Yesterday’s Rikishi File was a profile of Kotonishiki — a former sekiwake who is second all-time in the number of special prizes won, with 18.
The man who sits atop that particular list was one of Kotonishiki’s great rivals, Akinoshima.
A native of Hiroshima, Akinoshima’s combined total of 19 special prizes was an outstanding achievement, and isn’t the only sumo record he holds.
His 16 gold stars (for wins over yokozuna while ranked at maegashira) is also an all-time best mark, and four more than the rikishi in second place.
Akinoshima downed six of the eight yokozuna who were active during his makuuchi career.
He didn’t face the remaining pair (Takanohana and Wakanohana) as they were his stablemates. Rikishi who are closely related or in the same stable can only meet in a playoff.
His Futagoyama stable was the dominant power in sumo for most of the 1990s, and among Akinoshima’s daily training partners were two other rikishi who would lift the Emperor’s Cup — ozeki Takanonami and sekiwake Takatoriki — as well as several additional sanyaku level wrestlers.
After his retirement, Akinoshima initially took up the Fujishima name and coached at his home stable.
However, his relationship with the new stablemaster Takanohana, the former yokozuna who had eclipsed Akinoshima despite being more than five years his junior, grew gradually worse and ended in a shouting match in the JSA’s offices.
Akinoshima moved to Takadagawa Beya and is currently the stablemaster there.
Mongolian Maenoyu joined Takadagawa a few months before Akinoshima, but there have been no foreign wrestlers in that stable since the former man retired in 2007, and conversations with the current stablemaster have made it clear that their absence is more or less official policy, and that he has little to no interest in recruiting non-Japanese rikishi in the foreseeable future.