Kitanoumi Toshimitsu

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Kitanoumi Toshimitsu
北の湖敏満
Kitanoumi in Sumiyoshi Taisha (1) IMG 1452 20130302.JPG
Kitanoumi in 2013
Personal information
BornToshimitsu Obata
(1953-05-16)May 16, 1953
Hokkaidō, Japan
DiedNovember 20, 2015(2015-11-20) (aged 62)
Fukuoka, Japan
Height1.79 m (5 ft 10 12 in)
Weight169 kg (373 lb; 26.6 st)
Career
Stable Mihogaseki
Record951-350-107
DebutJanuary 1967
Highest rankYokozuna (July 1974)
RetiredJanuary 1985
Championships 24 (Makuuchi)
Special Prizes Outstanding Performance (2)
Fighting Spirit (1)
Gold Stars 1 (Kitanofuji)
* Up to date as of July 2007.

Toshimitsu Obata (小畑 敏満, Obata Toshimitsu, May 16, 1953 – November 20, 2015) known as Kitanoumi Toshimitsu (北の湖敏満), was a sumo wrestler. He was the dominant yokozuna in sumo during the 1970s. Kitanoumi was promoted to yokozuna at the age 21, becoming the youngest ever to achieve sumo's top rank, and he remained a yokozuna for a record 63 tournaments. He won 24 tournament championships during his career and was one of a series of truly great yokozuna who came from Hokkaidō, the northernmost main island of Japan. At the time of his death he still held the record for most bouts won as a yokozuna (670). Following his retirement in 1985 he established the Kitanoumi stable. He was chairman of the Japan Sumo Association from 2002 until 2008, and from 2012 until his death.

Contents

Career

Born in Sōbetsu, Usu District, Kitanoumi began his professional career in January 1967 at 13, whilst still in middle school. He joined Mihogaseki stable, and was promoted to sumo's second highest jūryō division in May 1971 and the top makuuchi division a year later. [1] He won his first top division yūshō or tournament championship in January 1974 and was promoted to ōzeki immediately afterwards. He secured promotion to yokozuna just three tournaments after that. At 21 years 2 months, he was the youngest ever yokozuna, [2] beating the previous record held by Taihō by one month.

Kitanoumi was the most successful wrestler in sumo for the rest of the 1970s. His dominance, and perceived stern demeanour, meant that he was not that popular with the general public. [3] When he was defeated by underdog Takanohana in a playoff for the championship in September 1975, the audience threw so many zabuton—or cushions—into the ring in delight, that Kitanoumi said he could "hardly see the ceiling". [4] He was known for not offering a defeated opponent a hand to get back to their feet, [5] and was also notoriously monosyllabic when being interviewed by reporters. [6] His best year was 1978, when he won 5 of the 6 tournaments and won 82 out of a possible 90 bouts, a record that stood until 2005. [7] His chief rival during these years was Wajima, [8] but Kitanoumi was much more consistent. He was heavy at 169 kg, was extremely strong and had excellent balance. He was also remarkably injury free and rarely missed a tournament. From July 1973 until September 1981 he chalked up fifty consecutive kachi-koshi , or tournament records of at least 8 wins out of 15, which is a record for the top division. [7]

By the beginning of the 1980s he had a new rival, Chiyonofuji, who earned promotion to ōzeki and then yokozuna by defeating him in decisive matches in January and July 1981. In November 1981 Kitanoumi withdrew from a tournament for the first time. After that his record was patchy, with many absences. [8] His 24th and final title came in May 1984, with a perfect 15–0 record. This was seen by many as a fitting end to a great career and he wanted to retire after that tournament, but was persuaded by the Sumo Association to carry on until the opening of the new Ryōgoku Kokugikan stadium in January 1985. [4] Three days into the tournament, without winning a match, he announced his retirement. [8] He had been ranked as a yokozuna on the banzuke in 63 tournaments, which remained the most in history until Hakuho surpassed it in May 2018. [3] During his career he had won 951 matches, the most in history at the time (he was overtaken by Ōshio in 1987). Of those victories, 804 came in the top division (a record broken by Chiyonofuji in 1991), and 670 of those came at the yokozuna rank. [9]

After retirement

Kitanoumi with Takanohana in 2013. Kitanoumi and Takanohana in Sumiyoshi Taisha IMG 1433-2 20130302.JPG
Kitanoumi with Takanohana in 2013.

Kitanoumi was honoured for his great achievements by being offered membership of the Japan Sumo Association without having to purchase a share ( ichidai toshiyori ). He was the second rikishi after Taihō to be given this honour. As a result, he was able to keep his sumo name after retirement. [10] He opened up his own training stable, Kitanoumi-beya, [1] taking several wrestlers from Mihogaseki stable who had already been under his wing. Kitanoumi stable is one of the largest in sumo, and has produced a handful of top division wrestlers over the years, such as maegashira Ganyū, Kitazakura and Kitataiki. He also inherited Russian wrestler Hakurozan, who joined the stable in 2006.

In 2002 Kitanoumi became head of the Sumo Association. He was the first chairman under the age of 50 in half a century, and his appointment was widely welcomed; [4] however, he came under pressure after a series of scandals hit sumo. These included the behaviour of yokozuna Asashōryū, who was suspended for two tournaments in 2007 but then allowed to return to Mongolia, the death of junior wrestler Tokitaizan at Tokitsukaze stable, and the dismissal of several top wrestlers for using cannabis. [4] When it became clear in September 2008 that one of them was his own wrestler Hakurozan, whom he had previously backed, Kitanoumi resigned his post, [11] apologizing for "the trouble I have caused to the Sumo Association and to fans". [12] He remained on the board of directors, in charge of running the Osaka tournament, [4] but had to resign from that position in April 2011 after another of his wrestlers, Kiyoseumi, was found guilty of match-fixing and forced to retire from sumo. [13] After Hanaregoma stepped down in February 2012, Kitanoumi returned to the role of chairman, the first person to head the association twice. [14]

Death

Kitanoumi died of colorectal cancer and multiple organ failure on the evening of November 20, 2015. [3] He was in Fukuoka for the Kyushu tournament and was taken to hospital for anemia in the morning, after which his condition deteriorated. [15] A memorial service was held on December 22 at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan. [2]

Fighting style

Kitanoumi's favourite kimarite or techniques were hidari-yotsu (a right hand outside, left hand inside grip on the opponent's mawashi ), [3] yorikiri (force out) and uwatenage (overarm throw).

Career record

Kitanoumi Toshimitsu [16]
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
1967(Maezumo)EastJonokuchi#13
52
 
EastJonidan#95
43
 
WestJonidan#49
25
 
WestJonidan#82
43
 
WestJonidan#55
43
 
1968WestJonidan#36
70PP
 
WestSandanme#20
07
 
WestSandanme#64
61
 
WestSandanme#31
25
 
EastSandanme#55
43
 
EastSandanme#39
61
 
1969EastSandanme#5
61
 
EastMakushita#38
25
 
WestMakushita#56
43
 
EastMakushita#51
52
 
WestMakushita#30
34
 
EastMakushita#37
43
 
1970EastMakushita#29
52
 
EastMakushita#16
43
 
WestMakushita#13
43
 
WestMakushita#10
52
 
EastMakushita#3
25
 
WestMakushita#10
52
 
1971WestMakushita#5
61
 
EastMakushita#1
52
 
EastJūryō#10
96
 
WestJūryō#4
69
 
WestJūryō#8
96
 
WestJūryō#2
96
 
1972EastMaegashira#12
510
 
WestJūryō#3
105
 
WestMaegashira#11
96
 
EastMaegashira#7
96
 
EastMaegashira#3
69
 
WestMaegashira#6
105
 
1973EastKomusubi#1
411
 
WestMaegashira#5
96
F
WestMaegashira#1
69
EastMaegashira#4
87
 
EastKomusubi#1
87
 
EastSekiwake#1
105
O
1974EastSekiwake#1
141
O
EastŌzeki#1
105
 
EastŌzeki#1
132
 
EastŌzeki#1
132P
 
WestYokozuna#1
114
 
WestYokozuna#1
123P
 
1975EastYokozuna#1
123
 
EastYokozuna#1
132P
 
EastYokozuna#1
132
 
EastYokozuna#1
96
 
EastYokozuna#1
123P
 
EastYokozuna#1
123
 
1976EastYokozuna#1
132
 
EastYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
132P
 
WestYokozuna#1
123
 
WestYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
141
 
1977EastYokozuna#1
123
 
WestYokozuna#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
123
 
EastYokozuna#1
132
 
WestYokozuna#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
132
 
1978WestYokozuna#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
132P
 
EastYokozuna#1
141P
 
EastYokozuna#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
141
 
EastYokozuna#1
114
 
1979EastYokozuna#2
141
 
EastYokozuna#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
132
 
WestYokozuna#1
123
 
WestYokozuna#1
132
 
EastYokozuna#1
105
 
1980EastYokozuna#2
123
 
WestYokozuna#1
132
 
EastYokozuna#1
141
 
EastYokozuna#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
114
 
WestYokozuna#1
123
 
1981EastYokozuna#2
141P
 
EastYokozuna#1
132
 
EastYokozuna#1
141
 
EastYokozuna#1
132
 
EastYokozuna#1
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
546
 
1982WestYokozuna#1
132
 
EastYokozuna#1
114
 
WestYokozuna#1
942
 
EastYokozuna#2
Sat out due to injury
0015
EastYokozuna#2
105
 
EastYokozuna#2
933
 
1983WestYokozuna#1
546
 
WestYokozuna#1
Sat out due to injury
0015
WestYokozuna#1
Sat out due to injury
0015
WestYokozuna#1
Sat out due to injury
0015
EastYokozuna#2
4110
 
EastYokozuna#2
114
 
1984EastYokozuna#2
87
 
EastYokozuna#2
105
 
WestYokozuna#1
150
 
EastYokozuna#1
114
 
EastYokozuna#1
0312
 
EastYokozuna#2
348
 
1985WestYokozuna#1
Retired
03
xxxxx
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

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 "Legendary yokozuna Kitanoumi dies at 62". The Japan News . November 21, 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Sumo great Kitanoumi dies at 62". Japan Times. November 21, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Kitanoumi: Legendary yokozuna dominated an era". Japan News/Yomiuri Shimbun. November 21, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Gould, Chris (October 2008). "The Rise and Fall of Kitanoumi" (PDF). Sumo Fan Magazine. Retrieved February 12, 2009.
  5. Gunning, John (January 17, 2020). "FFormer yokozuna Kitanoumi was imposing figure in sumoormer yokozuna Kitanoumi was imposing figure in sumo". Japan Times. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  6. Kaori, Shoji (January 14, 2000). "Wrestling with a national tradition". Japan Times. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  7. 1 2 Kuroda, Joe (April 2006). "A Shot At the Impossible – Yokozuna Comparison Through The Ages – Part 2". Sumo Fan Magazine. Retrieved June 27, 2007.
  8. 1 2 3 Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo. Weatherhill. ISBN   0-8348-0283-X.
  9. "VOX POPULI: Gone too soon, but Kitanoumi's sumo legend lives on". Asahi Shimbun . November 22, 2015. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  10. Hall, Mina (1997). The Big Book of Sumo (Paperback). Berkeley, CA, USA: Stone Bridge Press. p.  95. ISBN   1-880656-28-0.
  11. "Sumo head resigns over drugs row". BBC News. September 8, 2008. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
  12. "Japan sumo chief resigns over marijuana scandal". Reuters. September 8, 2008. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  13. "SUMO/ Scandal illuminates JSA chairman's powerlessness". Asahi Shimbun. April 8, 2011. Archived from the original on April 8, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  14. "Kitanoumi returns as JSA chairman". The Japan Times . January 31, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  15. "Sumo association head Kitanoumi dies at 62". Nikkei Asian Review . November 20, 2015. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  16. "Kitanoumi Toshimitsu Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
Preceded by
Wajima Hiroshi
55th Yokozuna
1974–1985
Succeeded by
Wakanohana Kanji II
Yokozuna is not a successive rank, and more than one wrestler can share the title
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Yutakayama Katsuo
Chairman of the Japan Sumo Association
2002–2008
Succeeded by
Mienoumi Tsuyoshi
Preceded by
Kaiketsu Masateru
Chairman of the Japan Sumo Association
2012–2015
Succeeded by
Hokutoumi Nobuyoshi