Sumo

Sumo 101: Brothers in sumo

by John Gunning

Contributing Writer

Normally, brothers in sumo can’t fight one another.

The only way siblings can meet on the dohyo is in a playoff for the championship.

That has happened just once; in November 1995 when Wakanohana defeated younger brother Takanohana to win his second Emperor’s Cup.

The Hanada family has produced two famous sets of brothers.

The father of the aforementioned pair — both of whom reached yokozuna — was a popular ozeki in the 1970s and his older brother was a legendary yokozuna two decades before that.

No one has come close to their level of success since, but there have been several sets of brothers that reached the top division.

Terao and Sakahoko reached the sport’s third-highest rank (sekiwake) like their father before them and both are now stablemasters. A third brother made it as far as the juryo division.

Veteran Aminishi’s older sibling Asofuji also spent a couple of tournaments in makuuchi.

In total there have been 19 sets of brothers that have reached at least sekitori level.

Wakamotoharu and Wakatakakage are the most recent pair.

While foreign-born rikishi like Akebono (United States) and Kokkai (Georgia) have also had siblings in sumo, only one non-Japanese pair has seen both men reach the top division.

The Boradzov brothers, Roho and Hakurozan, who hailed from Russia’s Ossetia region, had a decent amount of success in sumo before both were banned for life after testing positive for cannabis in 2008.

Brothers aren’t just restricted to being rikishi by the way.

Masunoyama’s brother became a tokoyama (hairdresser) at Chiganoura Stable.

Three Honda brothers were rikishi. One in Takadagawa Beya and two in Nishikido Beya. One remains active there and a fourth brother is a yobidashi in the same stable.

In a pattern that is common, all three rikishi brothers also reached the same level (makushita) as their father.