Championships 4 (Makuuchi)
Height 1.88 m
Debut July, 1968
Name Wakanohana II
Weight 135 kg
|Role Sumo Wrestler|
Career start July 1968
Retired January, 1983
Makuuchi rank Yokozuna
|Born Katsunori Shimoyama
April 3, 1953 (age 62)
Aomori, Japan (1953-04-03) |
Special Prizes Outstanding Performance (2) Technique (4)
Stable Takanohana stable (until 1983)
Similar People Wakanohana Kanji I, Mienoumi Tsuyoshi, Kitanoumi Toshimitsu, Takanosato Toshihide, Wajima Hiroshi
Highest rank Yokozuna (May, 1978)
Wakanohana Kanji II (若乃花 幹士, born April 3, 1953) is a former sumo wrestler from Ōwani, Aomori, Japan. He was the sport's 56th yokozuna. After retirement he became head coach of Magaki stable. Due to poor health he left the Japan Sumo Association in December 2013.
Born as Katsunori Shimoyama, he began his sumo career as a 15-year-old in July 1968. He joined Futagoyama stable at the same time as another future yokozuna, Takanosato, who came from the same area of Japan. Initially fighting under his own surname of Shimoyama, he changed to the sumo name of Wakamisugi in 1973. It took him five years to reach the status of a salaried sekitori wrestler, when he broke into the jūryō division in May 1973. He was promoted to the top makuuchi division in November 1973. From September 1974 to January 1975 he won three consecutive technique prizes and was promoted to sekiwake. Over the next two years he had some up and down results, but from September 1976 to January 1977 at sekiwake rank he put together three 11–4 marks, won three more special prizes and was promoted to ōzeki. In May 1977 he won his first yūshō, or tournament championship, with a 13–2 record.
In 1978 Wakamisugi emerged as the chief rival to Yokozuna Kitanoumi, as the other grand champion at the time, Wajima, was producing inconsistent results. Wakamisugi finished runner-up to Kitanoumi in January 1978 and then fought two playoffs with him for the yūshō in March and May. Although he was not able to win either, his record of 40 wins out of a possible 45 over the last three tournaments was enough for promotion to yokozuna. Indeed, it was the best postwar total for any yokozuna candidate. Wakamisugi changed his name to Wakanohana, which was the shikona of his stablemaster at Futagoyama, the former Wakanohana Kanji I.
Wakanohana had reached sumo's top rank at the age of just 25, and fans were naturally hoping for a long rivalry with Kitanoumi. But it was not to be. He did win three further tournaments, in November 1978 (with a perfect 15–0 score), May 1979 and September 1980. However he seemed burdened by the Wakanohana name, and in 1981 he was also pressured into marrying the daughter of his stable master. During this brief and unhappy marriage he won no tournament championships and was frequently absent from the dohyō due to injury and illness. The couple divorced shortly before Wakanohana announced his retirement from sumo in January 1983 at the relatively early age of 29. Around the same time, he married his mistress, who was pregnant with their only child—a daughter.
Retirement from the ring
No longer able to take over Futagoyama stable due to his divorce, in 1984 Wakanohana instead established his own stable, Magaki, and became known as Magaki Oyakata. He was a senior member of the Japan Sumo Association, serving as a Director, where he was responsible for the running of the honbasho held in Osaka each year. He suffered a minor stroke in March 2007 and since then has used a wheelchair and was unable to take much of an active role in running the stable.
In May 2008 it emerged that he had beaten one of his wrestlers with a bamboo stick. Although such rough treatment of juniors was not uncommon at sumo stables in the past, since the death of trainee Takashi Saito at the Tokitsukaze stable in 2007 coaches have been instructed to cut out the practice. The Sumo Association reprimanded him by giving him a 30% pay cut for three months. Kokonoe-oyakata the former Chiyonofuji and head of the Sumo Association's public relations division, criticised Magaki for initially attempting to justify his actions, saying "In addition to his excessive punishment of the wrestler, he invited misunderstanding that such actions are common in all stables."
In August 2008 he resigned from the board of directors after the top ranking wrestler at Magaki stable, maegashira Wakanohō, was expelled from sumo after being arrested for possession of cannabis. He was, however, repromoted in February 2009.
Along with five other oyakata (Ōtake, Ōnomatsu, Otowayama, Tokiwayama and Futagoyama), he was forced to leave the Nishonoseki ichimon or group of stables in January 2010 after declaring his support for Takanohana's unsanctioned bid to be elected to the board of directors of the Sumo Association.
Due to his poor health Magaki stable was wound up after the March 2013 honbasho and he, along with the remaining wrestlers transferred to Isegahama stable. In December 2013 it was announced that he would leave the Sumo Association, five years before the mandatory retirement age of 65. He subsequently sold the Magaki title to Tokitenkū in May 2014, making Tokitenkū the first Mongolian-born wrestler to acquire elder stock in the association.
Wakanohana's favoured kimarite or techniques were yori-kiri, with a hidari-yotsu (right hand outside and left hand inside) grip on his opponent's mawashi, uwatenage (overarm throw), and sotogake (outside leg trip).