Since the inception of the Yokozuna rank in 1789, only 72 men have been recognized as the greatest sumo has to offer. But who are the men behind the numbers? What made them stand out from the rest? And where do they belong in the pantheon of sumo’s most historic competitors?
I aim to answer these questions in my new series, The Yokozuna Chronicles, where work my way through the long history of sumo and I uncover the lives of its most prestigious athletes. In Chronicle One, I outline the legendary life of the first Yokozuna, Akashi Shiganosuke. A man more myth than material, Akashi Shiganosuke’s impact on sumo and the rank of Yokozuna is felt to this very day.