Taiho dies at 72 after legendary sumo career

Kyodo

Former yokozuna Taiho, whose record of 32 championships stands to this day, died at age 72 on Saturday in a Tokyo hospital, the Japan Sumo Association announced.

Taiho, whose real name was Koki Naya, was a member of the Nishonoseki stable, which will close its doors after the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament concludes Jan. 27.

Born on the Russian island of Sakhalin, Taiho made his ring debut in the 1956 Autumn Basho and won his first championship at the Kyushu tournament in 1960. Following the 1961 autumn tourney, he was promoted to yokozuna along with rival Kashiwado, setting the stage for an epic decade.

Taiho won six tournaments in a row twice in his career, finished eight tournaments with unbeaten records, and even went on a 45-match winning streak. After his retirement following the 1971 Summer Basho, Taiho founded his own stable.

His fame also earned him a place in the children’s phrase coined to honor the top hits of his decade, ranking him second after baseball’s Yomiuri Giants but ahead of rolled egg treats: “Kyojin, Taiho, tamagoyaki.”