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The 48th Yokozuna

Naya Koki was born on May 29, 1940 on the then Japanese island of Karafuto (now Russian Sakhalin) to a Russian (Ukraine) father and a Japanese mother. Naya was still a child when the family moved to Hokkaido, and in sumo-circles he is most often referred to as coming from Hokkaido.

Taking the shikona (ring name) Taiho, he debuted in the Juryo division in May 1959 at the age of 16, and rose to the Makuuchi division in January, after only 4 basho (tournaments). In September 1961 he was promoted to yokozuna which, at the age of 21, made him the youngest yokozuna ever. He was not one of the largest rikishi (sumo wrestler, lit. "strong man"), weighing 153 kgs, and standing 187 cms tall, but (as far as I have been able to deduce) a very strong one. Strong, fast, and technically proficient. His favourite kimarite (winning technique) were sukuinage, a beltless arm-throw, and uwatenage, an overarm throw.

Taiho is considered to be the greatest sumotori of the post-war period. He went on to win 32 tournaments; the first as sekiwake and the rest as yokozuna. He won 6 consecutive basho - no one has done that before, nor since - and he did this twice, on two separate occasions! He won 45 bouts in a row, an achievement surpassed only by Yokozuna Futabayama Sadaji in 1937-38 (69 bouts), and later by Yokozuna Chiyonofuji Mitsugu in 1988 (53 bouts). In his last basho as maegashira he defeated Yokozuna Asashio to win his first - and only - Kin-Boshi.

Taiho has won the following special prizes:

  • 32 Emperor's Cup (for winning 32 basho)
  • 2 Kantosho (Fighting Spirit Prize)
  • 1 Ginosho (Technique Prize)
  • 1 Kinboshi (Gold Star for defeating a yokozuna)

Taiho retired in May 1971. He became the first retired rikishi to be offered a free membership of the Japan Sumo Association, Nihon Sumo Kyokai. He accepted and went on to become a trainer in Nishonoseki beya. Maybe due to failing health, his success as a trainer was never very great.

According to an article on Mitsubishi Corporation.com Taiho is planning to travel to his father's home province in Ukraine to set up a Sumo Tournament.

My sources are all over the web, though www.scgroup.com/sumo and www.answers.com have been the most helpful

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