Kajinosuke Tanikaze (né Kaneko Yoshiro; Sendai, Japan, 8th September 1750 – Miyagi, Japan, 27th February 1795)
Today we travel far afield to pay a visit to Japan and hear a tale of a sumo wrestler who was an icon of his day, rising through the ranks from a humble birth to the very top of his sport. Starting out as an amateur intent on taking advantage of his considerable height and weight, Kajinosuke Tanikaze would become a sumo legend.
Born into humble circumstances, Tanikaze's future path was decided partially by the startling rate at which he grew. Once he was in his teens it became apparent that the young man was going to be a fairly sizable chap and by the time he made his sumo debut at the age of 19, Tanikaze was over six feet tall and weighed in at more than 25 stones. I cannot think that he was popular with the sedan bearers of his day, celebrity or no! Although not a professional sumo at this point his enormous size made him an ideal candidate for amateur bouts and Tanikaze soon proved to have a natural talent for the sport.
Given his skill, it was no surprise that Tanikaze turned professional and he enjoyed an unbroken run of 63 victories, a record that was not broken for over a century. In fact, over nine years of his career, Tanikaze lost only one bout. Following a spontaneous dance of celebration upon winning a title, he became one of the first two wrestlers to be granted a licence to perform a special solo ring-entrance ceremony, as opposed to taking part in the traditional ceremony with many other wrestlers.
The famed sumo wrestler's career never flagged and he well-embarked on another run of victories when he fell victim to influenza at the age of just 44.