Hiroshi Wajima

Hiroshi Wajima
輪島大士
Personal information
Born Hiroshi Wajima
(1948-01-11)11 January 1948
Ishikawa, Japan
Died 8 October 2018(2018-10-08) (aged 70)
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 130 kg (287 lb)
Career
Stable Hanakago
University Nihon University
Record 673–234–85
Debut January 1970
Highest rank Yokozuna (May, 1973)
Retired March 1981
Championships 14 (Makuuchi)
1 (Jūryō)
2 (Makushita)
Special Prizes Outstanding Performance (3)
Fighting Spirit (2)
* Up to date as of August 2007.

Hiroshi Wajima(輪島大士, 11 January 1948 – 8 October 2018) was a Japanese sumo wrestler and professional wrestler from Nanao, Ishikawa. He was sumo's 54th yokozuna. He won a total of 14 tournament championships or yūshō during his career and retired in March 1981. He was later head coach of Hanakago stable, but was forced to leave the sumo world and turned to professional wrestling.

Sumo career

After graduating from Nihon University where he was twice the amateur sumo champion in 1968 and 1969, [1] he made his professional debut in January 1970 at the age of 22, joining Hanakago stable. [2] He was given makushita tsukedashi status, meaning he could begin in the third highest makushita division. He was undefeated in his first 14 matches and reached the jūryō division after just two tournaments. [2] He was promoted to the top makuuchi division in January 1971.

After finishing as runner-up in the November 1971 and January 1972 tournaments he was promoted to sekiwake and took his first top division yūshō or championship in May 1972. [3] He was promoted to ōzeki shortly afterwards and after winning his second championship with a perfect 15–0 score in May 1973 he was promoted to yokozuna. [3] He won his first championship as a yokozuna in September, and in November 1973 he became the first wrestler ever to withdraw from a tournament while still managing to win it. He had split the webbing between his fingers in his Day 12 win over Takanohana, and lost the next day with his hand bandaged. As his only challenger on Day 13 had a fourth loss, he was able to sit out the last two days and still win the championship with a 12–2–1 record. [4]

Wajima won three championships in 1974 but then went into a slump, and did not take another title until March 1976. [3] In the late 1970s he was somewhat overshadowed by fellow yokozuna Kitanoumi, five years his junior. While Wajima had had a good personal record against him, holding a 19–10 advantage up to the end of 1977, Kitanoumi began to win their later encounters and overtook him in terms of championships won. Wajima's final record against him was 23-21. [2] He took his fourteenth and final championship in November 1980, and retired in March 1981. [3] At the time, he held the third highest number of top division yūshō in history, behind only Kitanoumi and Taihō. [5]

Wajima was an unconventional wrestler in many ways, and was looked on as a contrast to the strong and silent Kitanoumi. [2] He was the only man ever to go as far as yokozuna without adopting a traditional shikona, instead fighting under his own surname of Wajima throughout his entire career. [1] He was the first and to date only former collegiate competitor to be promoted to yokozuna. [1] He was nicknamed the "Sumo Genius" because of his college background. His other departures from sumo norms included having his hair permed before growing a topknot, staying in luxury hotels and driving a Lincoln Continental whilst on regional sumo tours (jungyō), and associating himself with outsiders such as the yakuza and going out on late-night drinking sessions. [6] [2]

He was a great friend and rival of Takanohana, whom he had known since his university days. The two were promoted to ōzeki simultaneously in November 1972. [2]

Fighting style

Wajima's preferred grip on the mawashi was hidari yotsu (right hand outside, left hand inside), and he was famed for the power of his so-called "golden left arm" which he would use to down his opponents by shitatenage or inner-arm throw. [2] His other favourite kimarite included yori-kiri (force out) and tsuri-dashi (lift out). [7]

Retirement from sumo

Following his retirement Wajima took over as oyakata , or head coach, of Hanakago stable in 1981, having married the eldest daughter of the previous stablemaster (former maegashira Onoumi) who had reached the mandatory retirement age for elders of 65. [8] However, his time there as oyakata was controversial. He lacked leadership qualities and most unusually did not even live in the stable, preferring to commute. [9] Hanakago declined to the point when it did not have any top-division wrestlers left. In 1982 his wife attempted suicide and he was demoted from his position as a judge as a result. The marriage eventually ended in divorce. [9] In 1985 he was pressured by fellow oyakata to resign from the Sumo Association after it emerged that he was heavily in debt due to the failure of his chankonabe restaurant and had put up his share in the Association as collateral on a loan, a practice strictly forbidden. [9] The stable folded completely with all its wrestlers transferring to the affiliated Hanaregoma stable. [9] [2]

Professional wrestling career

To pay off his debts, Wajima turned to pro wrestling. Shohei Baba, owner of All Japan Pro Wrestling, convinced him to join his promotion and train at their dojo. [10] He debuted in 1986. Because of his status as a former yokozuna (the first since Kinichi Azumafuji to turn to pro wrestling), Wajima was pushed as a superstar, feuding with Stan Hansen over the PWF Heavyweight Championship. In the long run, however, accumulated injuries from his sumo years limited his potential as a professional wrestler, and he ended up retiring from the game altogether in 1988. [1] His last recorded match was held December 16, as he and The Great Kabuki defeated Jerry Blackwell and Phil Hickerson. [11]

Later career

After quitting as a wrestler Wajima coached the X-League American football team Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull and also worked with the Cuban national sumo team. [2] He was also Ishikawa Prefecture's tourist ambassador. In January 2009 he returned to the Ryōgoku Kokugikan for the first time since leaving the Sumo Association in 1985, and was a guest of NHK, commentating on the day's bouts with Demon Kogure. [12]

Illness and death

In 2013, he was diagnosed with pharyngeal cancer and underwent surgery that December, which led to him losing his voice. He attended the wedding reception of Toyohibiki in February 2016 (whose stablemaster Sakaigawa Oyakata was a fellow Nihon University alumnus) and reported that while he had difficulty speaking, he was able to remain physically active, going for a 50-minute walk every day. [13]

Wajima died at his home in Tokyo on 8 October 2018. He was 70 years old. [14]

Career record

Wajima Hiroshi [3]
Year in sumo January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
March
Haru basho, Osaka
May
Natsu basho, Tokyo
July
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
September
Aki basho, Tokyo
November
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
1970 Makushita tsukedashi #60
70
Champion

 
EastMakushita#8
70
Champion

 
EastJūryō#8
105
 
EastJūryō#4
78
 
WestJūryō#6
132
Champion

 
EastJūryō#1
96
 
1971WestMaegashira#11
96
 
WestMaegashira#5
510
 
EastMaegashira#12
114
F
WestMaegashira#2
69
 
EastMaegashira#6
105
 
EastMaegashira#1
114
F
1972EastKomusubi#1
105
O
WestSekiwake#1
96
 
WestSekiwake#1
123
O
EastSekiwake#1
87
 
EastSekiwake#2
132
O
EastŌzeki#1
114
 
1973WestŌzeki#1
114
 
EastŌzeki#1
132
 
EastŌzeki#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
114
 
EastYokozuna#2
150
 
EastYokozuna
1221
 
1974EastYokozuna#1
123
 
EastYokozuna#1
123
 
EastYokozuna#1
105
 
EastYokozuna#1
132P
 
EastYokozuna#1
141
 
EastYokozuna#1
96
 
1975WestYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
0411
 
WestYokozuna#1
0312
 
WestYokozuna#1
Sat out due to injury
0015
WestYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
114
 
1976WestYokozuna#1
123
 
WestYokozuna#1
132P
 
EastYokozuna#1
132P
 
EastYokozuna#1
141
 
EastYokozuna#1
123
 
EastYokozuna#1
132
 
1977WestYokozuna#1
132
 
EastYokozuna#1
123
 
WestYokozuna#1
114
 
WestYokozuna#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
141
 
1978EastYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
1113
 
WestYokozuna#1
96
 
EastYokozuna#2
141
 
WestYokozuna#1
1311
 
EastYokozuna#2
132
 
1979WestYokozuna#1
105
 
EastYokozuna#2
123
 
EastYokozuna#2
123
 
EastYokozuna#2
141P
 
EastYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#2
105
 
1980WestYokozuna#2
0312
 
WestYokozuna#2
114
 
EastYokozuna#2
114
 
EastYokozuna#2
1410
 
WestYokozuna#2
114
 
EastYokozuna#2
141
 
1981EastYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
Retired
12
xxxx
Record given as win-loss-absent    Top Division Champion Top Division Runner-up Retired Lower Divisions

Sanshō key: F=Fighting spirit; O=Outstanding performance; T=Technique     Also shown: =Kinboshi(s); P=Playoff(s)
Divisions: Makuuchi Jūryō Makushita Sandanme Jonidan Jonokuchi

Makuuchi ranks:  Yokozuna Ōzeki Sekiwake Komusubi Maegashira

Awards

See also

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Hiroshi Wajima, lone yokozuna with college degree, dies at 70". Japan Times. 9 October 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Ex-yokozuna Wajima remembered for powerful left-arm throws, rivalry in ring". The Mainichi. 9 October 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Wajima Hiroshi Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  4. "Wajima Hiroshi". Japan Sumo Association. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  5. Gunning, John (10 October 2018). "Departed yokozuna Wajima brought charisma to ring". Japan Times. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  6. West, Mark D. (2005). Law in Everyday Japan: Sex, Sumo, Suicide, and Statutes. University of Chicago Press. p. 83. ISBN   0226894029.
  7. "Wins of Wajima". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  8. Shapiro, Michael (7 March 1988). "Down from sumo's summit". Sports Illustrated . Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo. Weatherhill. ISBN   0-8348-0283-X.
  10. Shapiro, Michael (1988-03-07). "Down From Sumo's Summit". Sports Illustrated . Retrieved 2008-06-27.
  11. "Wajima Hiroshi". Internet Wrestling Database. 9 October 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  12. 輪島さん デーモン閣下と「ドキドキ」解説 (in Japanese). Sports Nippon. 19 January 2009.
  13. "島大士氏「私のライバル」故北の湖前理事長を悼む" (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports. 14 February 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  14. 大相撲の元横綱・輪島こと輪島大士氏が死去 70歳 輪湖時代を築く (in Japanese). Sports Nippon. 9 October 2018.
  15. "プロレス大賞:選考経過(1980~1989)". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved December 15, 2017.
Preceded by
Kotozakura Masakatsu
54th Yokozuna
July 1973 – March 1981
Succeeded by
Kitanoumi Toshimitsu
Yokozuna is not a successive rank, and more than one wrestler can share the title