Former yokozuna Sadanoyama dies at 79

Kyodo

Former yokozuna Sadanoyama, who served as head of the Japan Sumo Association in the 1990s, died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital on April 27, his family said Monday. He was 79.

Sadanoyama, whose real name is Shinmatsu Ichikawa, was promoted to sumo’s highest rank after winning the 1965 New Year Grand Sumo Tournament for his third title and retired after the spring meet in 1968, having retained his yokozuna status through 19 tourneys.

A native of Nagasaki Prefecture, he began his sumo career in 1956. After making it to the top makuuchi division five years later, he claimed the crown in his third tournament as a rank-and-file grappler and won a total of six championships.

After retiring as a wrestler, Sadanoyama succeeded the Dewanoumi name and took over the Dewanoumi stable. He served as chief of the JSA for three terms from 1992 to 1998.

In 2000, in a rare move for a former JSA head, Sadanoyama assumed the role of a head judge. In February 2003, he resigned on reaching retirement age as stablemaster of the Nakadachi stable (now Sakaigawa stable).

According to JSA officials, he had been in and out of hospital this year after suffering a heart stroke.