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Takamiyama Daigoro - 髙見山 大五郎 (born June 16, 1944) is a former American professional sumo wrestler from Maui, Hawaii. He made his debut in March 1964 and wrestled for Takasago stable. He reached the makuuchi division in January 1968 and has 11 special prizes, 12 kinboshi and 1 top division championship. His highest rank was sekiwake and he retired in May 1984.

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 (189 cm) and 280 pounds (127 kg), he was recruited as a tackle for the Henry Perrine 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 22, 1964 to join Takasago stable as a new recruit.


Early Career[]

He made his professional debut in March 1964 and was given the prestigious shikona "Takamiyama" (髙見山) which was used by three other former sekitori from his stable. He won the jonokuchi yusho and jonidan yusho in his first two tournaments and reached the makushita division by his fifth professional tournament after only spending one tournament in the previous divisions. In January 1967 he produced a 5-2 record at the rank of makushita 2 and was promoted to juryo in the following March 1967 tournament.

Juryo Career[]

In his first two tournaments as a sekitori, Takamiyama finished with strong 10-5 records. In November 1967, he produced a double-digit winning record at the top of juryo and was promoted to makuuchi after five tournaments in juryo. This made him the first foreign-born rikishi to reach the top division.

Makuuchi Career[]


Takamiyama waits for his upcoming match

He had an exceptionally long top division career that spanned from January 1968 to January 1984. For many years he held the record for having competed in the most tournaments as a top division wrestler, at 97 (these were also consecutive tournaments). In November 2009 this record was broken by the veteran ozeki Kaio, and Kaio has also surpassed his long-standing record of 1430 top division bouts. However, Takamiyama still holds the record for the most consecutive bouts in the top division (1231), as he did not miss a match from his debut until he was forced to withdraw from the September 1981 tournament because of a training injury.

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. His first kinboshi came in only his second top division tournament against Sadanoyama, who had won the previous two tournaments but suddenly retired just two days after losing to him. His final gold star came ten years later at the age of 35, against Kitanoumi in September 1978 – only the third time the yokozuna had been beaten that year. Takamiyama also won eleven special prizes, or sansho for his performances in tournaments.


Takamiyama becomes the first foreign wrestler to win a yusho (c. 1972)

The highlight of his career came in July 1972 when he won the tournament championship with a 13–2 record – the first foreigner ever to do so. Ranked at maegashira 4, he lost only to Kotozakura and Takanohana and defeated Asahikuni on the final day to finish one win ahead of Takanohana. A congratulatory letter from US President Richard Nixon was read out by the US Ambassador to Japan at the presentation ceremony, marking the first time English had been officially spoken on the dohyo.

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 rank of ozeki. Nevertheless, he paved the way for other Hawaii wrestlers such as Konishiki and Akebono. His final appearance in the san'yaku ranks was at komusubi in September 1982 at age 38, making him the second oldest postwar san'yaku wrestler after former ozeki Nayoroiwa. Due to his exceptionally large size – he weighed over 200 kg as his peak – and trademark sideburns and bright orange mawashi, Takamiyama was an instantly recognisable figure to the Japanese public, even amongst those who did not regularly follow sumo. He appeared in several television commercials before the practice was banned by the Sumo Association. His great fighting spirit, and his determination to never miss a bout no matter what injuries he might be carrying – a Japanese character trait known as gaman – were much admired.

Retirement from Sumo[]

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Azumazeki Oyakata with his star wrestler Akebono (c. 1992)

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 and adopted the Japanese name Daigoro Watanabe, his wife's family name.

Takamiyama had been responsible for recruiting fellow Hawaiian Konishiki to Takasago stable in July 1982, while he was still an active wrestler. He subsequently opened his own training stable, Azumazeki-beya, in February 1986, the first foreign-born former wrestler to do so. In 1986 he recruited his first American which was Takamio of Honolulu, Hawaii. He later recruited another Hawaiian Takamikuni, however Takamio and Takamikuni were unable to reach the sekitori ranks. Another Hawaiian, Akebono, became the stable's first sekitori in 1990, and became the first foreign-born yokozuna in 1993. After Akebono, Azumazeki recruited a total of six foreigners from three different countries, however, only Daiki of Hawaii was able to reach salaried ranks.

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. He was later joined by Ushiomaru, who in 2009 took over the running of the stable when Azumazeki reached the Sumo Association's mandatory retirement age of sixty-five.

His farewell party at a local hotel in Tokyo on 6 June 2009 attracted 1000 guests, including Akebono and Konishiki. A congratulatory letter from US President Barack Obama was read out.

Fighting Style[]

Takamiyama's Fighting Style

Takamiyama defeats Oshio by oshidashi (push out)

Takamiyama's technique was somewhat rudimentary (his eleven sansho awards did not include a Technique Prize). He tended to rely on his strength and momentum rather than work on the opponent's mawashi with throwing moves. His two most common winning techniques were yorikiri (force out) and oshidashi (push out). Being exceptionally strong he regularly won by kimedashi (armlock force out) and tsuridashi (lift out). His balance was suspect, as his long legs meant he was rather top-heavy with his centre of gravity too high. As a result, he was often prone to being thrown by lighter, more agile opponents. At a peak weight of 204 kilograms (450 lb) he was the heaviest sumo wrestler of his time. Two lightweights who he often had trouble with were Asahikuni and Washuyama.


Division Results[]

  • Total: 812-845-22/1654 (122 basho)
  • Makuuchi: 683-750-22/1430 (97 basho)
  • Juryo: 53-52/105 (7 basho)
  • Makushita: 58-40/98 (14 basho)
  • Sandanme: 5-2/7 (1 basho)
  • Jonidan: 7-0/7 (1 basho)
  • Jonokuchi: 6-1/7 (1 basho)


  • 1 Makuuchi Championship (July 1972)
  • 1 Jonidan Championship (July 1964)
  • 1 Jonokuchi Championship (May 1964)


  • Special Prizes: Outstanding Performance Prize (6), Technique Prize (5)
  • Kinboshi: 12: (7) Wajima, (1) Kitanoumi, (1) Kitanofuji, (1) Sadanoyama, (1) Kashiwado, (1) Kotozakura
  • 1st foreign-born wrestler to win top division championship
  • 1st foreign-born wrestler to become an oyakata (coach)
  • Record: 1st most consecutive top division bouts (1231 bouts)
  • Record: Tied for 2nd most gold stars (12 gold stars)
  • Record: 3rd most top division bouts (1430 bouts)
  • Record: 4th most consecutive career bouts (1425 bouts)
  • Record: Tied for 4th most tournaments ranked in the top division (97 tournaments)
  • Record: Tied for 6th most tournaments ranked in junior san'yaku: komusubi and sekiwake ranks - (27)
  • Record: 7th most career bouts (1654 bouts)
  • Record: Tied for 12th most special prizes (11 special prizes)

Shikona History[]

  • Jesse (1964.03 - 1964.03)
  • Takamiyama Daigoro (1964.05 - 1984.05)


See Also[]