Former sumo champion Wakanohana II dies at 69

File photo / Jiji Press
Second-generation Wakanohana is seen entering the dohyo ring in September 1978.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Second-generation Wakanohana, former yokozuna professional sumo grand champion, died of lung cancer at a hospital in Osaka City on Saturday, the Japan Sumo Association said Monday. He was 69.

Born in Owani, Aomori Prefecture, Wakanohana II, whose real name was Katsunori Shimoyama, was spotted by first-generation Wakanohana, a former yokozuna who was also from Aomori, and made his professional sumo debut in the 1968 Nagoya tournament. He started competing in the makuuchi top division in the 1973 Kyushu tournament.

Performing brilliantly using his well-balanced, flexible body and powerful right arm throw with an outside grip, he was promoted to Ozeki, the second-highest sumo rank, after the 1977 New Year tournament and to yokozuna in the following year. He changed his “shikona” ring name from Wakamisugi to Wakanohana.

He captured the Emperor’s Cup four times by winning bimonthly 15-day tournaments and had more wins than losses in a tournament for 28 tournaments in a row. After retiring as a wrestler in 1983, he opened the Magaki stable and trained such makuuchi wrestlers as Gojoro and Wakanojo. He also served as a board member of the Japan Sumo Association.