(4 May 1914 – 17 August 1971) -
the 39th Yokozuna:
November 1947 – October 1949
by Joe Kuroda
basho. The “Kiki” name was taken from his old home village, Kisuki-mura
(also known as Kiki), but it was quickly changed to another more
well-known Ehime landmark, Sadamisaki (Sada Peninsula) the following
basho. Sadamisaki showed his rough character in his training
sessions very early on. He did not suffer a defeat lightly or quietly,
even in training bouts, and his training often became an all-out
ruckus. Most heyamates quickly learned to avoid him on and off
He also started drinking excessively and his reputation for getting into violent fights became legendary in the sumo world, as did his extreme temper and violent nature. He was repeatedly reprimanded by his shisho, Takasago Oyakata, but he kept progressing in the banzuke ranking so he was tolerated more than most, although he struggled with drinking problems throughout his active career.
Sadamisaki was promoted to makushita in 1932, and in the spring of 1933 he was assured of juryo promotion. Normally this brought good wishes from the heya supporters and a celebration party would have been held in honor of his promotion; however, his past behavior had been so atrocious that there was not even one offer to present him with a kesho mawashi to wear for his sekitori dohyo-iri ceremony. They were all afraid of their own reputation being tarnished by Sadamisaki’s violent behavior and no supporter wanted to be associated with him or his career.
Just as he was preparing for his
juryo debut, during another of
the 68 yokozuna in ozumo history, only one rikishi (the 54th yokozuna,
Wajima Hiroshi) used his family name for his shikona. All the others
had a traditional sumo shikona given to them by their oyakata or others
connected with them, except one. The exception was the 39th
yokozuna, Maedayama, who adapted his shikona from his doctor’s name,
Dr. Maeda Wasaburo who operated on what was initially believed to be a
career-ending, life-threatening injury.
Maedayama was a typical “Soppu” -type rikishi – tall and lanky. He was 180 cm tall but weighed only 117 kg. He had such delicate features that you would almost be forgiven for mistaking him for a sensitive gentle soul; but Maedayama was far from it. He ate, drank and lived hard all of his early life. He started his active sumo career as a rebel and ended his sumo life as a rebel. He re-built the Takasago dynasty that continues to this day. He was intense and had as much, if not more, raw fighting spirit as another present day Takasago beya yokozuna, Asashoryu.
Even after becoming oyakata, he marched to a different drummer, as he often ignored Kyokai directives and proceeded to do things his own way. He actively tried to promote sumo abroad and even traveled to the United States to hold a jungyo tournament. During the
|Hawaiian jungyo, he convinced a muscular youth to accompany him to Japan
by guaranteeing he would house, clothe and feed him for a period of
five years. The young man was planning to become a policeman but
decided to take up the offer despite some misgivings. It was such
an unprecedented event that it caused a great sensation in Japan at the
time. But Maedayama saw something in the young man and was proven
correct as he overcame hardships and went on to become the first
foreign-born sanyaku, sekiwake Takamiyama, the current Azumazeki
Oyakata. No one realized at the time, but it was a turning point,
heralding the new age of ozumo, opening up the floodgates of the
national sport of Japan to the whole world.
Born Kanematsu Hagimori in what is now Yahatama-shi, Ehime Prefecture in western Japan on May 4, 1914, Maedayama was the youngest of 14 children. He grew up to become a village bully and terrorized everyone in his neighborhood. A chance encounter with the Ehime-born 3rd Takasago Oyakata, who was holding a heya jungyo tour in the area, changed his life forever. Maedayama subsequently went to Tokyo to see his older brother who worked there as a carpenter and then decided to join ozumo rather going back home.
Taking the shikona of Kikiyama, he made his debut at the 1929