Former Yokozuna Wajima Passes Away


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.


9 thoughts on “Former Yokozuna Wajima Passes Away

  1. There’s that lethal inside left throw that’s mentioned in his wikipedia page. He attempts it at 0:16 and again at the edge to win. Everybody in the place knows it’s coming, and completes it anyway.

    Strong guy! RIP.

  2. thank you for this well-crafted, succinct and informative description
    wajima is from before my time with sumo, yet now i can grasp a sense of his place in history

  3. I’m surprised that they would allow an aging Yokozuna to fall on hard times financially. I always assumed these former greats had strict instructions never to do anything that would bring about financial ruin and, thus, cause embarrassment to themselves and the sport in general. I guess the committees and councils can only do so much in order to protect the former wrestlers from themselves

    • There are strict rules for rikishi. Not so for stablemasters, who are pretty much autonomous. There are rules of behavior within one’s job (show up for your shimpan duty, wear the appropriate kimono) but those are no different than the rules of any other place of employment. Nobody protects people from themselves.

  4. Before my time, but… Wajiima always seemed to have been something of a rebel and an outsider (see his WP article). I suppose that if you aren’t deferential on the way up you can’t expect many favours on the way down.

    He was one of those lean, muscular types who relied of skill, speed and strength rather sheer bulk to win his matches. Very similar physically to guys like Chiyonofuji and Harumafuji. We need more of those and a few less globsters these days.

    • He wasn’t the only one. There is this terrific bout between him and Takanohana Sr. – both sekiwake at the time. Today’s sekiwake must weigh double those two. There aren’t many guys that lean even in Juryo, let alone Makuuchi.

      This match is shortened – it took over 4 minutes – at which point one can see the “mizu iri” – water break – after which they continued at it. Imagine this kind of stamina from Ichinojo and Mitakeumi in their current size and shape.

  5. he retired out (only months) before i arrived in January 1982, but he certainly was a household word

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