Minanogawa Tozo (1903-1971) - The 34th Yokozuna - Part 2
by Joe Kuroda
under his belt by this time. He was the one who single-handedly
carried Ozumo after the Shunjuen Incident by staying on with the
Kyokai. So in a way, he was finally rewarded for his past
When Musashiyama was promoted after the 1935 May basho, he only had one yusho, and that was back when he was still komusubi at the May 1931 basho. He became a yokozuna by winning only one yusho, and his reign at the highest rank was nothing short of disastrous. He missed five of his eight yokozuna basho and he withdrew from two. He only had one full basho, in which he barely got a kachi-koshi with a 7-6 record.
Futabayama won his first yusho at the May 1936 basho and went on to win twelve more. From February 1932 to January 1936, Tamanishiki won five yusho, Minanogawa won two, and Musashiyama won none. A truly tragic figure on the sidelines of this period was ozeki Shimizugawa, who was never promoted to yokozuna despite winning three yusho – a victim of not being with a “major” heya.
Minanogawa’s first yokozuna basho (he was actually an “ozeki-yokozuna” then) ended with an unimpressive 6-5 record, with one win by default. Some felt he may have been too tense, this being his first yokozuna basho; but his supporters knew he needed to gain more strength since he was now 32 years of age, so, they urged him to take up cycling. Even though Minanogawa had never ridden a bike before, he learned quickly and remarked that he felt his thighs were getting stronger and his endurance was increasing.
Some of Minanogawa’s supporters also believed that he should settle
Minanogawa - seen to the left of the great Futabayama in this programme from an open air event at Koshien - home of the Hanshin Tigers
Mark Buckton, Courtesy of the Nihon Sumo Kyokai
last issue, we brought you the story of Minanogawa from childhood
through his early Ozumo career and his imminent promotion to yokozuna.
Purportedly, Minanogawa was granted yokozuna rank as a result of a
“return favor” between his oyakata and the oyakata of the
previously-appointed yokozuna, Musashiyama. As a result, in two
consecutive basho, Ozumo witnessed the birth of two of the weakest
yokozuna in the history of the sport.
At the time, there was another formidable power waiting in the wings, a man who would later be considered the greatest yokozuna of all time – Futabayama. Ranked Me 2 in the January 1936 basho, he was to face ozeki Minanogawa on day 5, but it was Minanogawa
appeared to be more nervous - and rightly so, as Futabayama, using his
incredibly flexible physique, turned Minanogawa at the edge of the
dohyo and threw him out.
Let’s just take a brief moment to look at the records of the four yokozuna, just prior to their promotions.
Clearly, Futabayama was invincible and he fully deserved his promotion. The other three had rather similar records among them. However, there was a difference with Tamanishiki - when he was promoted after the October 1932 basho with 7 wins and 4 losses, he already had ten ozeki basho. Except for this last basho, he never lost more than three bouts, and he had five