Taiho, who made his debut in the mid-1950s, dominated his sport until the early ’70s. Standing about 6 feet 1 and weighing about 220 pounds at the start of his career, he was a sylph of sumo, relying on skill more than heft to win matches.
His career record was 746-144-136, and he won the Emperor’s Cup (“an immense silver trophy awarded to the champion of sumo’s top division”) 32 times.
And one more gratuitous note: Taiho was born on Sakhalin Island during World War II. After the war ended and the Soviet Union took control of Sakhalin, Taiho and his mother were sent to Hokkaido.
His father, an anti-Communist who had fled his homeland for Sakhalin after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, was apparently arrested. The family never learned his fate; years later, touring the Soviet Union as a sumo star, Taiho reportedly sought his father’s whereabouts to no avail.
Remember, folks: Commies aren’t cool.