Yokozuna Hakuho’s incredible 43 championships, 15 perfect titles and numerous other records and achievements rightly see him often referred to as the greatest rikishi in the history of sumo.
Comparing eras is hard enough in sports that have only been around since the 1800s. Trying to do so in sumo, when its history stretches back a couple of millennia, is a fool’s errand.
The best we can do is try and compare rikishi who were active in the last century or so.
Hakuho’s main rival for the title of G.O.A.T. is probably Futabayama.
In terms of sheer numbers, Futabayama’s career at first glance seems to pale in comparison to Hakuho’s — just 12 championships and 348 wins compared to the Mongolian native’s 1,147.
The discrepancy there is a result of there being just two tournaments a year in Futabayama’s time, with each only having 11 days of action.
The one major sumo record Hakuho doesn’t own is still held by Futabayama.
The Oita native’s 69-bout consecutive win streak is even more impressive when you realize the limited number of bouts required him to go three full years without losing in order to reach that number.
Incredibly, Futabayama started the streak while ranked as No. 3 maegashira, and didn’t lose again until he was in his third tournament as a yokozuna.
After retiring, it was revealed that all his remarkable achievements came despite the fact that he had lost the sight in one eye as a child.
Futabayama ran his own stable while still active. It was known as Futabayama Dojo. After retirement it became Tokitsukaze beya and is still going strong. The building that houses the stable has signs bearing both names over the door.
Futabayama’s composure in the ring and demeanor outside it made him a legendary figure long before he retired.
He rightly deserves consideration for the title of the greatest ever.