Former Yokozuna Wajima Hiroshi has passed away at the age of 70. Active throughout the 70’s and early 80’s, Wajima was a highly successful Yokozuna who claimed fourteen championships using his revered golden left arm. Retiring from competition in 1981, Wajima became the oyakata of Hanakago stable before falling on hard times. Financial strain, chiefly brought on by the failure of his chankonabe restaurant, lead him to use his elder stock as collateral for a loan. This forbidden practice caused several other oyakata within the NSK to pressure Wajima to retire, and he did so in 1985.
As a result of Wajima’s mismanagement, Hanakago stable folded following the oyakata’s retirement, and its few remaining rikishi relocated to Hanaregoma stable. The former Yokozuna had brief forays into professional wrestling and gridiron football in an attempt to pay off his debts, but he never recaptured the success he had found in sumo. Wajima is believed to have succumbed to throat cancer. Condolences to his loved ones and fans.
Yokozuna Wajima (left) vs. Ozeki Kitanoumi (right), Nagoya Basho, 1974.