There have been a few rikishi in the history of sumo whose careers have been akin to supermassive black holes — so overwhelmingly dominant that nothing can escape their presence.
It can sometimes seem as if the achievements of virtually everyone who competed in the eras of Futabayama, Taiho and Hakuho might as well have not occurred, so overshadowed are they by what those legendary yokozuna accomplished.
There are exceptions, however.
Kashiwado is one of them.
Despite the fact that the Yamagata native’s career’s ran parallel to that of Taiho (one of the most legendary stars of all time) and his five Emperor’s Cups are 27 short of what that man achieved, Kashiwado was seen as his main rival.
The 1960’s are known to sumo fans as the Haku-Ho era (柏鵬時代), taking a character from each of their ring names.
Kashiwado spent ten years at sumo’s highest rank, and while his five championships are more than respectable taken by themselves, the fact that he had a further 15 runner up performances is a good indication of what might have been if Taiho hadn’t been competing at the same time.
Further evidence of just how evenly matched they were came in their head to head record. Over the first seven years Taiho and Kashiwado faced off, the series was split just 18-16 in the former’s favor.
Kashiwado’s level dropped over the last couple of years of his career, and Taiho won another five bouts before the man who had been promoted to yokozuna alongside him decided to call it quits.
After he retired, Kashiwado established Kagamiyama stable and ran it until his death in 1996. Former sekiwake Tagaryu took over from Kashiwado and is still in charge, but with just two active rikishi Kagamiyama beya is now the smallest stable in the sport.