This is a collection of bouts that clinched a rikishi’s one and only makuuchi championship won at the rank of maegashira. I didn’t include Tochinoshin, since he’s currently active, and could continue to add to his total in the future. Keep in mind that many—if not all—of these rikishi had very successful careers overall, regardless of the fact that they only won one championship. There’s many ozeki’s and even some yokozuna who only won one or even no yusho’s for their entire career. Anyway, without further ado, here’s the list:
Wakamisugi defeats Iwakaze (1960):
Although he didn’t have to fight two yokozuna, as Tochinishiki retired that very tournament, and Wakanohana Kanji I was his stablemate, Wakamisugi did genuinely beat yokozuna Asashio to win with a great 14-1 record.
Fujinishiki defeats Kitanofuji (1964):
Fujinishiki won the tournament with an excellent 14-1 record, but didn’t fight any ozeki or yokozuna, although he did defeat sekiwake Kitanofuji, who would later become a future yokozuna. The great dai-yokozuna of the time, Taiho, who was in his prime around this time period, was notably absent from this basho.
Wakanami defeats Kainoyama (1968):
This is an interesting bout for historical reasons. As a maegashira, Wakanami didn’t face any top-rankers except for one sekiwake, and the subsequent public outcry eventually led to the common practice nowadays of matching up maegashira tournament contenders with high-ranking opponents the deeper they progress into the basho.
Tochiazuma I defeats Kiyokuni (1972):
Tochiazuma Tomoyori (the father of Tochiazuma Daisuke) wins his only championship against Kiyokuni, who was the only ozeki he faced that tournament. The sole yokozuna of the time, Kitanofuji was also out with an injury.
Takamiyama defeats Asahikuni (1972):
Takamiyama wins his only makuuchi championship against the very technical but somewhat-light Asahikuni, and becomes the first foreign-born rikishi to do so. He later became a stable-mate of Konishiki (who he recruited), and then the oyakata of Akebono, the first foreign-born yokozuna.
Kongo defeats Washuyama (1975):
Excellent match. Kongo (in the light purple mawashi) defeats the noted technician Washuyama for his only championship. Yokozuna Wajima and ozeki Takanohana I were absent this tournament, but he did defeat Kitanoumi, who was the reigning dai-yokozuna of that era.
Tagaryu defeats Wakashamizu (1984):
Coming in to the basho, Tagaryu was in danger of being demoted from the makuuchi division altogether, and responded by winning his only championship. Tagaryu (on the right), defeats ozeki Wakashamizu to eliminate him from the yusho race. The only other contender, Konishiki, lost on the final day to clinch his tournament win. Tagaryu was the first maegashira-ranked wrestler to win a tournament since Kaiketsu in 1976.
Kotofuji defeats Takatoriki (1991):
By this time, maegashira who were still in the yusho race late into the tournament, were paired with increasingly higher-ranked opponents. Kotofuji was eventually paired with ozeki’s: Kirishima and Konishiki, as well as yokozuna Asahifuji, and still managed to defeat them all. His win over Takatoriki here on the 13th day, sealed his basho win.
Mitoizumi defeats Takanonami (1992):
This is a mirror match of sorts, as two tall and strong, “edge-walking” experts battle it out, with Mitoizumi coming out ahead for his only championship. Injuries greatly set-back Mitoizumi’s career which could’ve gone even higher than it did.
Takatoriki defeats Miyabiyama (2000):
This other vid shows more of Takatoriki’s emotional reaction after the bout:
33 year old veteran Takatoriki cliched his only tournament championship here, and was clearly overcome with emotion after the win. A member of the dominant Futagoyama heya, he was overshadowed by his other teammates, Takanohana, Wakanohana, and Takanonami, but he was a scrappy and tough competitor for anyone in his time.
Kotomitsuki defeats Kaiho (2001):
Although he eventually became an ozeki, the championship Kotomitsuki won here as a maegashira against Kaiho remained the only one he would ever win.
Kyokutenho defeats Tochiozan (2012):
Probably the poster boy of a completely unexpected, low-ranked sumotori who comes out of nowhere to win the entire basho. This bizarre tournament had Hakuho turn in an uncharacteristic 10-5 record (especially for that time), and six ozeki’s couldn’t capitalize on that to take the yusho. It ended with the then 37 year old Kyokutenho beating another maegashira-ranked wrestler (Tochiouzan) in a play-off, to become the oldest first-time wrestler to win a makuuchi championship. Like Takatoriki’s win, he couldn’t contain his palpable emotion, and probably has one of the most emotional post-win reactions you’ll ever see. It was the first time in 11 years that a tournament was won by a rank other than yokozuna or ozeki.