Before Harumafuji would rocket himself across the dohyo, there was Kotonishiki. One of the most explosive rikishi in sumo history, he’s probably best known for being the only Maegashira ranked wrestler to win 2 top division championships. Some might say, that’s an indictment on him, as he perhaps never lived up to greater potential, but I personally thought he used his talents as best he could in a very tough era, despite having some glaring physical disadvantages. The thing that immediately stands out about him, is his explosive tachi-ai charge. As I mentioned, it wasn’t until Harumafuji arrived that a wrestler was finally able to match that lightning-quick burst he displayed.
Kotonishiki blasting the exciting Mainoumi out and clinching his first Makuuchi championship:
Kotonishiki vs yokozuna Hokutoumi:
There were several physical limitations he had that probably contributed to him not winning more than he did. For one, he was light at around 290 lbs—another similarity to Harumafuji . Second of all, despite his speed-based oshi-thrusting style, he had short, stubby, T-Rex arms. Also, while he was skilled on the mawashi, especially for an oshi-specialist, it wasn’t his forte. Fellow oshi-specialists of the time like Akebono or Konishiki could use their longer limbs or much greater size and strength to help keep their opponents off their belt, while he had to rely more on his quick burst speed to attack before opponents could react, and keep them constantly unbalanced.
On his way to his 2nd championship. This clip shows some of his belt skill against the great Takanohana:
This win against the ozeki Takanonami secured his improbable 2nd championship, seven years after winning his first one:
Kotonishiki was a unique, underrated, and exciting wrestler, who used his explosive speed and fierce will to blast out a multitude of opponents for over 11 years in the Makuuchi division. Although he often hovered around the Maegashira ranks, he was a key figure during a very stacked era, and was a constant threat for even the ozeki and yokozuna of the time, as shown by his long list of achievements: with two championships, eight kinboshi, and 18 total special prizes.
More clips of him in action:
Kotonishiki runs the great Chiyonofuji off the dohyo:
Kotonishiki vs a then-ozeki Wakanohana:
Kotonishiki vs Takanohana 2:
Clip of him training and flying around the dohyo in a tournament. From a longer Japanese documentary:
Kotonishiki’s Oyakata tearing up at ringside after his pupil’s second championship is clinched. From the same documentary: