Yokozuna: the highest rank in Sumo

  • Yokozuna is the highest rank in Sumo Wrestling. Only a few people have become Yokozunas. There are merely some 71 recorded Yokozunas in the history until now since its inception. There is a famous WWF (World Wrestling Federation) wrestler named ‘Yokozuna’ but he is not the original Yokozuna. Yokozuna is a traditional and exclusive Japanese title which is held by only a few in the entire history.

    WWF Wrestler Yokozuna


    Mongol born Kakuryu at the World Sumo Tournament

    The inception of Yokozuna is unclear. In ancient times, the Shoguns used to enjoy Sumo Wrestling like the Romans did with the Gladiator shows. The first Yokozuna, Akashi Shiganosuke, was awarded the title posthumously. He lived somewhere around the end of 17th century A.D. There used to be strict laws on who can become a Yokozuna. In the last few decades, due to its increasing popularity across the world, the rules have been eased. The current Yokozuna is Kakuryu Rikisaburo who is the 71st Yokozuna and he is from Sukh Baatar, Mongolia. After winning 14 tournaments consequentially, he has been promoted to the highest rank of Yokozuna. The Mongols are being awarded the title for the last 12 years.

    Japanese Sumo Association

    Becoming a Yokozuna is not easy. It is a gradual process where you attain the tile by training for years from childhood and by participating and winning each tournament conducted by the Japanese Sumo Association. This organization is responsible for operating Sumo Wrestling in Japan and is managed by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Its headquarters is located in Sumida, Tokyo. Apart from the active wrestlers, there are a group of experienced elders, referees, hairdressers and ushers who constitute a Sumo Association. The ‘International Sumo Federation’ was formed in 1992 with 87 member countries which hold international tournaments. This Federation strives to make Sumo Wrestling a more-popular Olympic Sport.