1. Let’s start with a reasonable warm up: who is the only yokozuna who never won a single basho during his entire career ?
Futahaguro Koji (born Koji Kitao) performed very well in san’yaku during the years 1985-1986, with (as an sekiwake) 11-4, 12-3, (as an ozeki) 10-5, 10-5, 12-3 and 14-1 records.
He lost in a playoff to Chiyonofuji, whom he defeated on day 15, during the Nagoya basho of 1986, after having accumulated these 14 wins.
With Chiyonofuji as the sole active yokozuna, five ozeki and another wrestler performing to ozeki standards, the board decided to promote Futagahuro to yokozuna, despite the fact that he hadn’t won a yusho.
That gamble proved to be a hugely bad decision. Futahaguro reached again one playoff, finished twice as a runner up, but no more.
Following a heated argument with his stablemaster, and allegedly with the stablemaster’s wife, Futagahuro became the first yokozuna to be expelled from the sport, and the first yokozuna of the modern era who never won a single yusho.
At the opposite, Kotokaze and Kirishima never made it to yokozuna. Wajima won no less than fourteen yushos.
2. We have to look before the modern era to find the last ozeki to be promoted to yokozuna without having won a tournament. Who was it ?
Tip : unlike Futagahuro, he won yushos (two) after his promotion.
Terukuni was tied for first place with Futabayama and Akinoumi with a 13-2 record, during the May 1942 tournament. The yusho was awarded to Futabayama because he held a higher rank, as the rule was at the time.
His performances earned him nevertheless yokozuna promotion.
He had a decent yokozuna career, ending runner up two more times – five times during his whole career – before finally clinching two titles in a row, eight years after yokozuna promotion, during the Aki basho of 1950 and the Haru basho of 1951.
He retired in 1953.
3. Speaking about yushos, how many wrestlers have not won a single yusho during their yokozuna careers ?
Note : the yushos may have been won before 1958. We’re looking at the whole careers of yokozuna who have been active since 1958.
The correct answer of the first question is, of course, included !
Apart from Futahaguro, Yoshibayama has been promoted to yokozuna after having won a yusho az an ozeki in 1954, but couldn’t reproduce that feat. He retired in 1958.
The other yokozuna is Wakanohana III. His record is in fact quite impressive, with five (!) yushos: one as a komosubi, four as an ozeki, but none as a yokozuna. After a decent start at the rank and 10-5, 12-3, 9-6 and 13-2 records, he suffered a serious injury which prevented him from competing properly. He had to retire by the year 2000, less than two years after his yokozuna promotion.
4. How many yokozuna have been make-koshi despite competing all fifteen days ?
That might sound unbelievable. However, both yokozuna, Onokuni (in Aki 1989) and Wakanohana III (in Aki 1999) were diminished through injury, and could not perform at their best.
5. What happened to him / them ?
d. The Yokozuna Deliberation Council did not consider resignation
To be exact, Onokuni submitted his resignation papers, but the board instead told him to « toughen up », as his bad performances were due to his injury.
Wakanohana III, with the support of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, did not consider offering his resignation at all, also due to the fact that injury prevented him from competing properly.
6. And how many yushos has he / have they won, combined, afterwards ?
Sadly, both yokozuna’s injuries proved too much of a mountain to climb.
Wakanohana III sat out of the two next bashos, before going 2-4-9 in Osaka 2000 and retiring thereafter.
After sitting out of five more tournaments, Onokuni had a late surge with 10-5, 10-5 and 12-3 records, finishing runner up of the latter. He sat out again the next tournament, and retired after a final 4-5-6 performance.
7. Of the ten last yokozuna, how many have earned promotion without winning two yushos in a row as ozeki ?
The last two ones, Kakuryu and Kisenosato. Kakuryu lost a playoff in January of 2014, before winning the next basho in Osaka, and was promoted.
Kisenosato finally won his first yusho in January of 2017, after thirteen runner up performances. The council promoted him after his first win, too.
Let’s single out Harumafuji who put ut the best numbers with back to back yushos in 2012 – despite Hakuho’s presence.
8. How many dai yokozuna were active during the modern era ?
Kitanofuji (10), Wakanohana I (10), Tochinishiki (10), Akebono (11), Musashimaru (12), Wajima (14), Takanohana II (22), Kitanoumi (24), Asashoryu (25), Chiyonofuji (31), Taiho (32) and Hakuko (43).
9. Sumo year 2017 saw a quartet of yokozuna, composed of Hakuho, Harumafuji, Kakuryu and Kisenosato. Which year saw the creation of the previous quartet ?
Asashifuji earned yokozuna promotion after consecutive 14-1 wins in May and July of 1990. He joined Onokuni, Hokutoumi, who were both yokozuna since 1987, and Chiyonofuji, yokozuna since 1981.
Edit : thanks to TubeWings for correcting that one… seems I missed the last quatuor which appeared in 1997, where Akebono, Takanohana, Wakanohana and Musashimaru were yokozuna.
10. The four yokozuna were…
c. Chiyonofuji, Onokuni, Hokutoumi, Asashifuji
11. What can we say about the situation that happened after eleven bashos ?
d. There were no more yokozuna
Serious injuries caused an unfortunate wave of retirements : Chiyonofuji in May 1991, Onokuni in July 1991, Asashifuji in January 1992, and Hokutoumi in May 1992.
12. By the way, what is the highest combination of yokozuna seen at the same time ? The question covers the period from 1909 to 2019
b. Four active yokozuna and a fifth awaiting retirement ceremony
Kagamisato was promoted to yokozuna after having won the Haru basho of 1953. Terukuni had just announced his retirement. Still awaiting the ceremony, he was a yokozuna – albeit no more active – alongside Kagamisato, Chiyonoyama, Azumafuji and Haguroyama.
13. Back to the modern era, the three yokozuna to have won six yusho in a row are…
d. Taiho, Asashoryu, Hakuho
Taiho won the five last basho of the year 1966. Incredibly, he did not win more bouts than anyone during that year, as he sat out during the January basho. Kashiwado racked up 71 wins, two more than Taiho.
Taiho also won the January basho of 1967, before seeing Kitanofuji ending his streak.
Asashoryu won from Fukuoka 2004 to Fukuoka 2005. Seven in a row. Wow.
Hakuho won the five last honbashos of 2010, as well as the January basho of 2011. He was ultra dominant, with 86 wins in 2010, out of 90.
The March 2011 tournament was cancelled. The winner of the next basho was… Hakuho, before Harumafuji finally stopped that streak, in July 2011.
14. The feat of winning seven yusho in a row has been accumplished by…
Asashoryu won in Fukuoka in 2004, as well as every honbasho of the 2005 calendar year. He won an impressive total of 84 bouts during that year.
His stream came to en end after Tochiazuma clinched the January basho of 2006.
15. And many foreigners have been promoted to yokozuna ?
Two Americans, Akebono (promoted in 1993) and Musashimaru (promoted in 1999); four Mongolians, Asashoryu (2003), Hakuho (2007), Harumafuji (2012) and Kakuryu (2012).
– If you’ve got less than 5 correct answers : you’ll drop to juryo next tournament.
– If you’ve got between 5 and 7 correct answers : you’re make-koshi, but avoid demotion. Maegashira 10 is your spot.
– If you’ve got 8 or 9 correct answers : you’re finally delivering, and everyone’s curious to see your san’yaku debut as komosubi next time.
– If you’ve got 10 or 11 correct answers : you’re a strong sekiwake, pushing hard for ozeki promotion.
– If you’re got 12 or 13 correct answers : we’re glad to have a talented ozeki in our ranks…
– If you have 14 or 15 correct answers : congratulations, shin-yokozuna !