Monday, November 23, 2015

(943) Too strong

He began sumo at 13, entered the top division at 18, won his first tournament at 20 and 2 months after his 21st birthday he became yokozuna -the youngest in sumo history until and since then. He dominated the 1970s winning 21 tournaments and 951 bouts and he was so good that the sumo fans came to dislike him: a rikishi's rikishi he combined strength, technique, stamina and endurance. He was also one of the four rikishi to become "elders" of the Japan Sumo Association without having to buy the necessary share -the other three were Taiho, Takanohana and Chiyonofuji. He became chairman of the association in 2002 and despite the fact that his tenure was soiled by scandals and problems that drove him to resign in 2011, he returned to the chair in 2012 and remained there until last Friday when he left this world at the age of 62. His name was Toshimitsu Obata but he will always be remembered as Dai-Yokozuna ("super-yokozuna") Kitanoumi. 

(For a bigger version of this picture both in color and black and white, check my "Japan Arekore" set on Flickr)

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