With Tochinoshin recently bringing in a lot of new international sumo fans, I thought I’d give a brief spotlight to a somewhat forgotten rikishi who fought in a similar power-sumo style. Like Tochinoshin, Kirishima became Ozeki relatively late in his career at the age of 31. In fact, he has the all-time record for being the slowest to ever reach the rank. Also like Tochinoshin, he was especially famous for his incredible strength, and tsuri-dashi (lift-out) wins in particular. He retired with an amazing 56 wins by tsuri-dashi, at nearly 10% of his total wins. By comparison, Tochinoshin currently has 22 tsuri-dashi wins for about 4% of his total wins, although he has about 7 years to match or surpass Kirishima, who retired at 37. Another winning technique that requires a tremendous amount of strength is the utchari, where a wrestler lifts and swings his opponent around at the edge. He had 19 wins by utchari including this notable example against the gigantic yokozuna Onokuni:
Kirishima vs yokozuna Onokuni:
He was a fitness freak, who would run before sumo training began, and then lift weights afterwards. He was also very undersized at around 280 lbs. Imagine someone who was around Harumafuji’s size (10 lbs. less in fact!), who instead wrestled with a strength-based, power style like Terunofuji. Rikishi were already big by that time too during the 80’s – early 90’s era in which he wrestled (around 15-20 lbs. smaller overall than today). He certainly wasn’t as strong overall as Baruto, Tochinoshin, Terunofuji or Akebono, and he didn’t get the sheer “air time” on his lift-outs that Tochinoshin does, but I personally consider him the greatest pure lifter in recent history at least, because of how small he was, and the fact that nearly all of the opponents he lifted out (besides Chiyonofuji) often outweighed him by 30-80lbs or more.
More video clips:
Against the great Chiyonofuji:
Winning his only championship against yokozuna Hokutoumi, while his family, wife, and supporters cheer him on:
Funny match against Mitoizumi, that had 3 torinaoshi’s! (redo’s):
Footage of him training, drinking a specially made protein drink his girlfriend would make for him, and eating with fellow stablemates Terao and Sakahoko (both now Oyakata). It’s from a Japanese documentary with no English subtitles unfortunately: