Sumo is an extremely physical sport with injury an ever-present risk for its participants.
Blown-out knees or other wrecked joints have stymied many promising careers.
Anyone who manages to survive for 10 years has likely overcome serious injury at some point. Sticking around for a full two decades is practically a miraculous achievement, especially if the bulk of that time is in the top division.
When the rikishi is very small or light and has to enduring a daily hammering from much larger opponents both in tournaments and in training, the likelihood of a long career in sumo isn’t high.
Terao was one of the few who defied those odds.
Hailing from of one of the great sumo families, the Tokyo native fought for 23 years and reached sumo’s third-highest rank (sekiwake) before retiring in 2002 and opening Shikoroyama stable. He is still stablemaster there with his most famous current rikishi being Abi.
Terao’s brother and father were also sekiwake who ran their own stablesm, with the former recruiting and coaching yokozuna Kakuryu until his recent passing.
A third brother was also a rikishi, and several other members of his family tree (by both blood and marriage) had sumo connections.
Terao had a ferocious trusting style that earned him the nickname “The Typhoon.”
He was also considered to be extremely handsome and as a result was one of the more popular rikishi of his era.
Terao was never a title threat — ten wins in the July tournaments of 1985 and 1989 were the only times he reached double digits in the top division — but he was often a difficult opponent for the top-rankers in individual bouts and downed yokozuna seven times in his career.