Takamiyama Daigoro

''"Takamiyama" redirects here. For the first official championship winner, see Takamiyama Torinosuke.

Takamiyama Daigoro 高見山大五郎 (born 16 June,1944 as Jesse James Wailani Kuhaulua in Hawaii, U.S.) is a former sumo wrestler, the first foreign born rikishi to win the top division championship (in 1972). His highest rank was sekiwake. He is also the first foreign born wrestler ever to take charge of a training stable, having been head coach of Azumazeki stable since 1986.

Early life

Kuhaulua was born in Happy Valley, Maui to parents who were mostly of Hawaiian descent. Due to his impressive height of 6 foot 2 inches (189cm) and 280 pounds (127kg), he was recruited as a tackle for the Baldwin High School football team. His football coach noticed that he had weak legs and hips, and recommended that he train his lower body through sumo, a sport popular among the local Japanese-American community. He joined a local amateur sumo club and it was there that he was spotted by visiting professional sumo wrestlers from Japan. He was eventually recruited by the head coach of Takasago stable, former yokozuna Maedayama. After graduating from Baldwin High School in Wailuku in 1963 he left for Tokyo on February 22nd, 1964 to join Takasago stable as a new recruit.

Sumo career

Takamiyama made his professional debut in March 1964. He achieved sekitori status in March 1967 when he won promotion to the second highest juryo division. He reached the top makuuchi division five tournaments later. He had an exceptionally long top division career that spanned from January 1968 to January 1984. He still holds the record for having competed in the most tournaments as a top division wrestler, at 97. He also holds a number of other longevity related records such as completing 1,231 consecutive matches in the top division, and 1398 top division matches in total. He won a total of twelve kinboshi (gold stars awarded for maegashira wins against a yokozuna), a record which stood until Akinoshima surpassed it in the 1990s. He also won eleven special prizes, or sansho for his performances in tournaments. The highlight of his career came in July 1972 when he won the tournament championship with a 13-2 record. Following this victory he was promoted to sumo's third highest rank of sekiwake. He was to hold this rank a further seven times, but he was ultimately unable to score ten wins or more in consecutive tournaments and so was never able to reach the ozeki ranking. Nevertherless, he paved the way for other Hawaii wrestlers such as Konishiki and Akebono.

Retirement from sumo

Takamiyama's goal had always been to fight until the age of forty, but a serious elbow injury sustained in November 1983 caused him to fall to juryo, and in May 1984, facing certain demotion to the third makushita division, he announced his retirement after twenty years in sumo. He was just a few weeks short of his fortieth birthday. He became a member of the Japan Sumo Association, with the name Azumazeki. To do so he had taken Japanese citizenship in 1980.

He subsequently opened his own training stable, Azumazeki-beya, in 1986, the first and so far only foreign born former wrestler to do so. Akebono became the stable's first sekitori in 1990, and became the first foreign born yokozuna in 1993. One of Azumazeki's stated goals after this was to coach a Japanese wrestler to the top division, and this was achieved in July 2000 when the popular Takamisakari made his makuuchi debut in July 2000. He has since been joined by other top division wrestlers such as Ushiomaru, who is to take over the running of the stable when Azumazeki reaches the mandatory retirement age of sixty five in 2009.

Top division record


See also

External links

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