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Featured rikishi - Wakanoyama

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I don't really know much, except that he has been around a while. I must recognise him for the impressive back hair that he sprouts. Very easy to distinguish on TV.

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I'm sure others can fill in with interesting details, but the here are the basics:


Wakanoyama (Hiroshi Nishizaki) comes from Wakayama, hence the shikona Wakanoyama. Originally he fought under his family name, Nishizaki. (I call him Yammie. (Laughing...)) Is a Musashigawa rikishi, and specializes in oshi-zumo accordingly. Not as widely known as other Musashigawa sekitori, but very recognizable due to his body hair.

He reached the rank of west komusubi in Haru 2001, but fell back to M12e on the Aki 2001 banzuke, and has since been a mid-low maegashira. Now stuck in the maegashira-juryo elevator and not looking too good with his 5-10 last basho (from J3e).

That probably doesn't sound too much, but there's a bit more to it. There is an interesting SML post (Jonosuke :-/) quoting a Sankei Sports article, which explains the matter in detail, but I will paraphrase. So here's what happened. His dohyo debut was in 1988, he reached juryo in 1991 and makuuchi a year after that, being 20 years old at the time. Basically, he had everything going for him. But in 1993 he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Serious illnesses and a life in the sumo world don't mix, as Wakanoyama soon found out, after losing 20 kilos (and more) of weight and much of his strenght, and falling through the ranks to makushita. He struggled and found his way back to makuuchi in 1994, but only for a brief visit before being demoted all the way to makushita again (no, not in one basho (Eh?)).

After spending a few years in the juryo-makushita elevator battling his condition, Wakanoyama finally returned to makuuchi (with a 10-5 record from J1w) in Natsu 1999, after 29 bashos - breaking previous records (bashos until return to makuuchi). As mentioned above, he topped his successful comeback by reaching sanyaku in 2001.

Has a career record of 596-577-32, yes, over 1200 bouts and 32 absent - 22 of which in makuuchi. 2 juryo yushos (Kyushu 1995, Hatsu 2004), 3 makushita yushos and a kanto-sho (Hatsu 2001). And Wakanoyama of all people deserves a fighting spirit prize.

Trivia bit 1: Has never lost to Asashoryu (OK, so they've only met once in Hatsu '01, but still... :-D).

Trivia bit 2: Is a pro-wrestling fan.

Trivia bit 3: Is married since 1999 (married the girl he met during the darkest hours of his battle with diabetes).

Trivia bit 4: Made his dohyo debut with Akebono, Takanohana/Wakanohana and Kaio.

Trivia bit 5: Tried several kinds of treatments, including venesection and health food. :-)

Trivia bit 6: His blood type is B.

Yammie holding the sword:


Obligatory links: NSK profile, Record by opponent, Sekitori stats.

Edited by Exil

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As Exil said, entered sumo in the same group as Akebono, Takanohana, Wakanohana, and Kaio (1988/03). Akebono said (on the NHK Ozumo broadcast) that Wakanoyama was the strongest of the group at that time...

Also entering sumo at the same time...

Rikio: Debut: 1988/3, Retired 1997/9, Highest rank Maegashira 4

Susanoumi: Debut: 1988/3, still active, Highest rank Juryo 2

(as seen on Sumo Colosseum)

Edited by Otokonoyama

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Picture time.

Salt toss


Getting his hair done... and liking it :-)


On duty




Meeting fellow sumotori :-/


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Susanoumi: Debut: 1988/3, still active, Highest rank Juryo 2

(as seen on Sumo Colosseum)

Nein. He retired back in March 2003. Very fat individual. Dropped down to Makushita , famously known as the Susanoumi bungee on the ML for a while.

Of course, when in doubt, you can always use my retired guys' page, where every rikishi almost is linked to his stats when available.

Edited by Kintamayama

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Also entering sumo at the same time...

Rikio: Debut: 1988/3, Retired 1997/9, Highest rank Maegashira 4

Susanoumi: Debut: 1988/3, still active, Highest rank Juryo 2

And Kaio I think.

Well, what could have happened if Wakanoyama would have been healthy when he first entered makuuchi? He probably would have some 70 bashos in makuuchi and maybe many sanyaku visits. Who knows...

EDIT ah, you mentioned Kaio above, sorry...

Edited by Araiwa

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Has twin daughters and his wife takes good care of his diet he says :-/

When Wakanoyama reached sanyaku, he gave an interview saying he wishes to be an example to all rikishi out there who don't feel they have the best tools or capacity in sumo. "Since even I could reach sanyaku, anybody can!".

Wakanoyama is blessed with such a strong heya that he definitely gets good keiko on any given day. Lot of training with Maru when Maru was recovering from injuries.

He is not solely oshi-rikishi. Surprisingly good in yotsu too and has some extra weapon in his tottari/kotenage yank he does in the middle of bouts to gain ground.

He has always been a tough foe for Chiyotaikai for some reason which is extremely interesting considering the fact that he was UTTERLY helpless against Akebono in every single bout they had. He floated off the dohyo every time in a second whereas against Taikai he can absorb amazingly well and while he is 2-5 against Taikai, he has at least 2 very close losses after stopping Taikai with ease.

Wakanoyama has a habit of looking the ceiling after losses he feels repulsion towards (or not looking the ceiling necessarily since he closes his eyes when tilting his head back in disappointment after a silly loss).

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This interview took place before the Haru Basho 2001.  

Wakanoyama had 9 wins and 6 losses at the 2001 Hatsu Basho at Maegashira East 3 and gained his spot on Komusubi in the Haru Basho.


Sumo: You earned the Kanto-sho in the Hatsu Basho (2001), ensuring your promotion to Komsubi next basho for the first time in your career. This must have been the best basho you've ever had.

Wakanoyama: Our young guys were telling me unless I'd win one more, it wouldn't be certain, so that gave me an added pressure on the Senshuraku. I was thinking more like I'd be OK since I got Kachikoshi on the Day 12 up to then.

Sumo: When you got the kachikoshi and walking back on the Hanamichi last basho, you appeared to be almost overcame by emotion.

Waka: At that time I started thinking at last I could become a Sanyaku and I felt hot all over my body. Then I lost two straight bouts. Those two days felt so long.

I knew Kyokutenho ranked lower than me but was doing very well so I was really worried by then.

Sumo: When your promotion became certain after the Senshuraku, you must had a lot of people coming to see you to congratulate you.

Waka: The shisho (Musashigawa oyakata, former Yokozuna Mienoumi) said to me, "Well done". At the Heya's Launch party many supporters club members came over and congratulated me on my performance and praised me for my work so I felt really great. Like thinking life can be this good. But then the next morning when I woke up, I forgot all about it. I can't keep on celebrating and needed to start thinking what to do next.

Sumo: Did't you remember all the hard times you had?

Waka: People kindly mention my hardships but you know I don't feel as if I went througth that much of hardships at all. I sometimes hear an oyakata doing sumo broadcast saying I've had gone through a lot of hardships but I don't particularly like to hear it. If it was that hard, I'd have quit a long ago.

Sumo: But when you fell down to Makushita, you must have some trying times. You were in Makushita starting from September 1996 for 13 bashos.

Waka: The two years is a long time. I don't even remember how many times I thought I'd quit. I felt I wanted to quit more than anything sometimes. But right now I just look back and think, yeah, there were times like that. That's all.

Sumo: What sustained you through those tough times?

Waka: I guess it was my conviction that I really loved sumo. Of course there were many people who helped me out in those days but unless I really loved what I was doing then, I could not have continued nor kept going back to train more.

Sumo: You are confident that you love sumo more than anyone else.

Waka: You won't find too many who love it as much as I do. I have been doing sumo since I was in elementary school. I wasn't doing anything else other than sumo back then. I liked it more than going to school. I was thinking about sumo all day all night long. If you've taken sumo out of me, I bet there was nothing left. I know it's still the same. I knew even then there was only one thing I could have done so there was

only one choice for me to follow the only path possible for me. I knew this was the only life I could lead so I was ready to pursue it to the bitter end.

Sumo: That must have been the reason you could have overcome your serious illness.

Waka: I believe I am where I am now because I experienced the illness while I was still young. If I had a diabetes at the age of 25, I may have retired by now. Because I was still young then, I had a spirit to fight off the illness, thinking I'd never get beaten by it. I feel strongly that the illness made me what I am today, making me grow as a human being. Perhaps I can only say this now but I feel it turned out well that I got sick. I do really feel fortunate that I had this experience.

Sumo: You have more empathy towards the younger recruits...

Waka: Right. If I got up to Juryo when I was 19 years old and had a rather smooth rikishi life, I could spent my life never really knowing their feeling. I guess if everything just goes well for you, then you naturally become insensitive and indifferent to people around you. Now I understand the young hands more and know their feeling. I believe I can continue to compete only because they are there helping me out. That's why when I win, I say to them, "Thanks. I was able to win today because of your help". There are some sekitoris who treat their Tsukebito terribly but I am filled with a sense of appreciation.

Sumo: Fukkouyama (Dewanoumi Beya) said he received an advice from you.

Waka: Well there are still some silently suffering from diabetes. I want them to recover from it and do all their best in sumo. I asked him if he had a desire to become a sekitori and he said yes so I introduced him to a good doctor. When I see a heya's recruit drinking juice like no tomorrow, I warn him that he would be like me in no time. But you know we are stupid animals. Until we suffer a pain, we won't learn. (laughs)

Sumo: A sanyaku or Sansho must have been one of your goals but from now on you must aim for something higher.

Waka: Man's greed is limitless you know. When I finally got back to Juryo, I wished one day I could get back to Makuuchi. And then once I got up in high Makuuchi, I

started thinking it would be just a little more to get to Sanyaku. It's only natural to aim higher than your present position. But personally I'd like to grow as a human being before I aim for a higher status. There are some out there,really strong but a zilch as a human being. If a man lives a clean honest life, he can win some day. They tell me you can't win in sumo unless you possesse a child like innocence. I've had such an education since I was a kid.

Sumo: Was it from your teacher at a sumo dojo you went as an elementary school student?

Waka: Yes. Whenever I lost he used to ask me, "What have you been doing? You've lost because you must have been doing something awful." So then I thought, yeah, I did a terrible thing so God must have not let me get a win. And I promised I'd be a good boy. Listen when I was a boy, I used to get into all kinds of mischiefs. (laughs)

Sumo: You've kept the teachings from your elementary school days to now.

Waka: I could not have shown any sign of happiness on the dohyo when I won. You know when you are a kid and you win, you want to jump up and down and show you've done it but that was not allowed.

Sumo: It was for a victor's consideration to the loser.

Waka: Well you have your opponent so it's either you win or lose. We are not doing this because we hate each other. So I do feel it is against the Sumoudou to show your overt expressive pleasure on the dohyo. I see a lot of these behavior on the dohyo these days but I assume it just comes out naturally. I guess we have a new generation of rikishis.

Sumo: We've never seen you do it on the dohyo.

Waka: In my case while I am going back to the dressing room, I close my fist and say to my self, Good.

Sumo: Finally if you can provide your thought on the upcoming Haru Basho.

Waka: I'd like to get Kachikoshi certainly but it's my local basho so I want to show a sumo I won't be ashamed of. 'd work hard to display sumo bouts that the fans can

really enjoy seeing.


(2001 March Issue Sumo Magazine)

Hiroshi Nishizaki

May 12, 1972

Started going to Nakamura Dojo at 6 years old.

Placed the third at All Japan Middle School Sumo

Championship when he was 14 years old.

Received offers from high school, but

in March 1988 joined Musashigawa Beya.

Juryo debut: July 1991

Makkuuchi debut: May 1992

Battled diabetes from 1994 to 1998 and fell out of Juryo.

In November 1998, returns to Juryo.

Wakanoyama had 6 wins and 9 losses in the Haru Basho and fell from Komsubi.


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I don't remember exactly, but wasn't the basho when Wakanoyama was komosubi the one where Musashigawa had Royal flush: one yokozuna, one ozeki, one sekiwake, one komusubi and one maegashira? :-(

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I don't remember exactly, but wasn't the basho when Wakanoyama was komosubi the one where Musashigawa had Royal flush: one yokozuna, one ozeki, one sekiwake, one komusubi and one maegashira? :-(

Nope, that was Hatsu 2000, with Y1e Maru, Oe Dejima, S2e Musoyama, Kw Miyabiyama, and M7w Wakanoyama.

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I don't remember exactly, but wasn't the basho when Wakanoyama was komosubi the one where Musashigawa had Royal flush: one yokozuna, one ozeki, one sekiwake, one komusubi and one maegashira? :-/

It was actually better than a royal flush then, since there was one Yokozuna, three Ozeki and one Komusubi (I don't remember whether Buyuzan was already in Makuuchi then, but at least Musashigawa's top 5 was in the top 10-11, which is not that bad... :-( )

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As stated in the interview, Wakanoyama managed nine wins and six losses in the 2001 Hatsu Basho at Maegashira East 3. I don't have the records of that basho with me at the moment but as implied I believe if he had only 8 wins, he may not have made it.

Now in this basho they had Musashimaru as Yokozuna, Dejima, Musoyama and Miyabiyama as Ozekis. Obviously with M3, if not for the Musashigawa factor he would have faced the above four. If he faced all four, probably the best he could hoped for would be 2 wins and 2 losses. Often in a case like this if he were M3, he may have faced someone around M6 as he was not facing the four. Maybe he got beaten by M6, I am not sure but chances are he probably did not make Komusubi at least this time. This is not to say he did not deserve to be a Komusubi but that time he may not have made it.

When you look at his records in Makuuchi, his best is 9 and 6, which he had three times. Mostly he hovered around Kachikoshi/Makekoshi line or worse. So in a sense he was the least affected member of the Musashigawa factor as he was never high enough to be a factor.

But there is no doubt he was helped by joining Musashigawa Beya at that time. I've never seen a Futagoyama keiko when they had four or five sekitoris around but I saw a Musashigawa keiko. I have never seen as intense or brutal Moushiai and Sanban keikos before or since. And even the oyakata was not there at the time I was there. For whatever reason Maru was not around when I visited but it was more or less conducted by Musoyama. And he proved he did get the "elite" sumo training from his father (along with Miyabiyama). Man, guys were dropping like flies and a total battle scene with casualities all over.

Years later I noticed many of these guys suffering from one chronic injury or another and I knew the reason why. Years of this kind of training will take a toll. Musashimaru was known as "Ironman" of Ozumo as he never had any injury until he got to Yokozuna but even for him the injury bug caught up with him eventually.

Getting back to Wakanoyama, it must really helped him training with the likes of Maru, Musoyama, Miyabiyama and Dejima every day and training that hard.

I don't have it with me right now but I sure like to know who Wakanoyama went against on that Hatsu and Haru Bashos of 2001, win-loss records and their ranks.

I am sure that will tell if he had the Musashigawa factor going for him or not for sure.

Edited by Jonosuke

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As for the career as a sumo wrestler of Wakanoyama, a battle with the diabetes occupies that most so that everyone may say.

Therefore, a judgment 【 the contents of his Sumo of the last basho are declines by the age 】 is difficult.

But, I am presuming that he has a decline by the age a great deal.

I think that it is never in Jyuryo at least if he doesn't have diabetes even if it is so, too.

He had been remarkable for several years, and durability was reduced.

Generally his tactics (torikuchi) is estimated to attack it more insistently from the bottom from the bottom.

But, as for him of the age of prosperity, it was the powerful sumo wrestler whom it was possible for to push it away with physical strength even from the condition which stopped for a while in the middle of torikumi.

One doesn't only and just move backward conversely at present, and he doesn't have the pattern of the certain victory.

It is possible that it holds out 【 the time that it has it by his not moving backward 】.

But, it consists of the surroundings where it passed through thirty seconds with his losing the power to attack it before most and only bearing it 【 only 】.

It stops having a foot advanced in the front, and he after that is pulled down in the front.

He can't follow an opponent's movement, and it is made to look aside, and yields with another case again.

This is his present condition.

He is the sumo wrestler of the push sumo wrestling of the legitimate descent which is faithful to the basis.

Therefore he can't do the somo of the deception, and he is in the present difficult situation.

I take the case of Tamakasuga, and explain a little more concretely.

There are many common points with him in Wakanoyama.

It is the same age.

The certain victory pattern of the age of prosperity is lost at present.

It has the injury of the degree that it is the same and illness.

The same sumo wrestling style (push sumo wrestling).

The decisive difference exists conversely in two people.

Tamakasuga uses the tactics (Hiki,Hataki,Inashi) which is hardly used extensively by Wakanoyama.

Improvement in that technology is possible by this tactics' having passed through the age, too.

In addition, it doesn't almost need to depend on physical strength and durability.

Therefore, it is the skill which is very effective in the sumo wrestler of (especially, push sumo wrestling) who passed the age of prosperity.

I think that a cause with Wakanoyama which is the legitimate descent more a difficult situation is this.

The silhouette of Wakanoyama bordered black has been becoming faint a little.

It seems to be so because a white color has been mixing with his body hair.

His edge gets lighter, and he change completely like the silver-back , and I expect that he takes powerful sumo wrestling again.


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The silhouette of Wakanoyama bordered black has been becoming faint a little. It seems to be so because a white color has been mixing with his body hair.

Even though their sumo style is different, I can never manage to distingush between Buyuzan and Wakanoyama. I know when I see their photo which is which, but I always get the two mixed up.

Yeah I notice his grey hair these days - not as much on his body but on his head. It sort of makes him more distinguished - I know he will make a distingushed looking oyakata someday.

Perhpas seeing his grey hair, other "younger" opponents get more confident, thinking yeah I can blast away this old timer. Perhaps he can dye his hair (I don't think the kyokai has any regulation against dying their hair black), it's only "their hairstylist knows for sure" thing.

Actually I have another interview piece to post - him with a certain hairstylist sometime later on.

Edited by Jonosuke

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Wakanoyama's funny posture(of tyring hard to lean forward by bending his back) and way he moves about looks just like Asanobori in older days...

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And now, my favorite rikishiki, Minaminoshima, is Wakanoyama's tsukibito. That is ok, but now he never has time to talk when I see him. He is always attending to Waka. Oh well, such is sumo life.

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With all of Wakanoyama's hardships, I was so glad he made it to Komusubi at least one time. I was worried he would never make it back to Makuuchi again. B-)

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When we last visited Wakanoyama, it was May of 2005. He was at Juryo West 7 and had 8 win 7 loss record. The following 2005 Nagoya Basho, ranked at Juryo West 6, he had a disastrous basho, losing seven straight from Day 1. He eventually finished the basho with 3 wins and 12 losses.

Likely Wakanoyama has been tipped that he would fall down from Juryo or sensed that his sekitori life was all over. He must have realized himself he reached his physical and mental limits after so many years of hardships battling his serious diabetes condition. On August 11 2005 Wakanoyama announced his retirement and inherited Toshiyori Yamawake. He stated he would be working for Musashigawa Beya as an affiliated oyakata. He was 33 years old. Incidentally he was still listed on the 2005 September Basho banzuke as Makushita East 1. Wakanoyama had his retirement sumo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan on September 30, 2006.

There were times he fell to Makushita but he never gave up and after 29 basho he made it back to Makuuchi. He had 32 Makuuchi basho as well as receiving one Kanto-sho. His highest rank was komusubi.

His younger brother Tokoken, third class Tokoyama, is also with Musashigawa Beya. Urged by his mother, Wakanoyama started sumo at Nakamura Dojo near his home in Kobo City, Wakayama Prefecture. Former Musashigawa Beya's Daikiko also attended the same dojo before he went to Kinki University. In his Junior High days, Wakanoyama placed the third place in the All Japan Junior High Sumo Tournament so he was considered to be a promising rikishi when he joined Ozumo.

As already stated previously by Exil he made his dohyo debut with Akebono, Waka/Taka brothers and Kaio at the 1988 March Basho. He quickly progressed and by the 1991 July Basho he already made it to Juryo and the following year May Basho he made Makuuchi debut, a year earlier than Kaio. But soon he started suffering from symptoms of diabetes and fell to Makushita. But he struggled back and eventually climbed up to komusubi at the 2001 March Basho, This was in the midst of the golden age of Musashigawa Beya. But soon he fell down to Juryo again and even won the Juryo Yusho once in his later years.

As Yamawake oyakata, he was involved in an incident with the heya's rikishi, former Sandanme Koshinoyama, the heya's chanko chief in June 2007. He was alleged to have repeatedly beat Koshinoyama with a bamboo broom and caused an unspecified injury to Koshinoyama's arms requiring two weeks of treatment. The police filed his case to the prosecutors but they did not proceed with the case and he was let go. Yamawake oyakata later admitted he saw Koshinoyama beating younger rikishi and he wanted to show him how painful it could be by hitting him. Koshinoyama did not appear at the following Nagoya Basho and the Kyokai announced his retirement after the basho.

Yamawake oyakata is known for his drinking prowess and lists cocktail drinking as one of his hobbies, The other main one is watching professional wrestling. With two girls, he also has one boy. Even though his nickname was Nishizaki (his real family name) during his active days, he was also known as a "hairy caterpillar".

Edited by Jonosuke

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