Hakuhō in January 2012
11 March 1985
Ulan Bator, Mongolia
|Height||1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Weight||157 kg (346 lb; 24.7 st)|
|Highest rank||Yokozuna (May 2007)|
|Special Prizes||Outstanding Performance (3)|
Fighting Spirit (1)
|Gold Stars||1 (Asashōryū)|
|* Up to date as of 25 January 2015.|
Hakuhō Shō (白鵬 翔? born 11 March 1985 as Mönkhbatyn Davaajargal, Mongolian: Мөнхбатын Даваажаргал) is a professional sumo wrestler (rikishi) from Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Making his debut in March 2001, he reached the top makuuchi division in May 2004. On 30 May 2007 at the age of 22 he became the second native of Mongolia, and the fourth non-Japanese overall, to be promoted to the highest rank in sumo, yokozuna.
In 2009, he broke the record for the most wins in a calendar year, winning 86 out of 90 bouts, and repeated this feat with the same record again in 2010 when he established the second longest winning streak in sumo history. He also holds the record for the most undefeated tournament championships at eleven, which is three more than any other sumo wrestler in history.
He was the only active yokozuna from 2010, following the retirement of his rival and fellow Mongolian Asashōryū, until 2012 with the promotion of fellow Mongolian Harumafuji. In January 2015, he took his 33rd top division championship, giving him the most in the history of sumo.
Early life and sumo backgroundEdit
Like many of his countrymen in professional sumo, Hakuhō belongs to a family in the Mongolian wrestling tradition. His father Jigjidiin Mönkhbat won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1968 Summer Olympics, and held the highest ranking in Mongolian wrestling, "Darkhan Avarga" (meaning "Invincible Champion"), which is the Mongolian equivalent of Yokozuna. Davaajargal did not however have any formal training in Mongolian wrestling himself, as his father wished him to try other sports, and he concentrated on basketball as a child instead. However, at an early age he would be seen reading sumo magazines, and when his father asked him why he liked sumo so much, he responded by saying he wanted to be as big as a sumo wrestler one day. At that time he was considered below average in size.
He came to Japan in October 2000 when he was fifteen years old, invited by pioneering Mongolian rikishi Kyokushūzan. Because he weighed only 62 kg (137 lb), no sumo training stable (heya) was prepared to accept him. Hearing this, Kyokushūzan asked heya master Miyagino Oyakata to intercede, and Davaajargal was accepted to Miyagino stable on the last day of his two-month stay in Japan, 24 December 2000. He was given the ring name (shikona) Hakuhō, with haku meaning "white" and hō, meaning the Chinese mythological bird Peng. His shikona also emulates that of former yokozuna Taihō.
Hakuhō made his professional debut at the March tournament (honbasho) in Osaka in 2001. Despite having no previous wrestling experience, as his weight increased he steadily rose in the ranks, reaching the second highest jūryō division in January 2004, and the top makuuchi division in May of the same year. In his very first top-division tournament, he scored twelve wins against three losses and was awarded a special prize (sanshō) for Fighting Spirit. He also enjoyed great success in subsequent tournaments, winning a gold star (kinboshi) for defeating Yokozuna Asashōryū in November 2004 while still at the lowest makuuchi rank of maegashira. This tournament also saw him finish as runner-up for the first time. He achieved a rapid promotion to the rank of komusubi in January 2005 and sekiwake only one tournament later. His progress was delayed by an injury which forced him to take leave (zen-kyu) from the Nagoya tournament in 2005.
His ōzeki promotion came in March 2006 after a 13-2 record, which included a playoff for the championship (which he lost to Asashōryū) and also earned him two special prizes for Outstanding Performance and Technique. This gave him a three tournament record of 35 wins against ten losses. His promotion was confirmed just a few weeks after his twenty-first birthday, making him the fourth youngest wrestler to reach ōzeki in modern sumo history.
At his first tournament as ōzeki in May 2006, with Asashōryū absent, Hakuhō won his first championship (yūshō) with a 14-1 record, defeating Miyabiyama in another playoff. After another strong performance (13-2) in July, in which he finished as runner-up to Asashōryū and defeated him on the final day, Hakuhō flirted with promotion to yokozuna, but an uncharacteristically poor 8-7 showing in September shelved such early hopes. An injury sustained in training prevented him from participating in the November tournament, putting him at risk for demotion (kadoban) in January 2007, when he scored a respectable ten wins on his return to the ring.
Promotion to yokozunaEdit
In March 2007 Hakuhō won his second championship in Osaka and a third championship in the very next tournament in May, with a perfect 15-0 record. Winning two consecutive championships satisfies the de facto minimum requirements for promotion to the top rank in sumo. On the day following the tournament, the Yokozuna Deliberation Council unanimously recommended his promotion to yokozuna which was formally announced by the Japan Sumo Association on 30 May 2007. He performed his inaugural ring-entering ceremony (dohyō-iri) at the Meiji Shrine (in the lesser-used Shiranui style) on 1 June. He performed the ceremony at the Kokugikan during Kyokushūzan's retirement ceremony (danpatsu-shiki) on 2 June.
Hakuhō's first tournament as a yokozuna was in July 2007. His 25 match winning streak was brought to an end by Kotomitsuki on the 10th day, and further losses to Kotoōshū and Chiyotaikai put him out of contention for the title. He finished the tournament with an 11-4 record.
Hakuhō's first tournament championship as a yokozuna came in September 2007 with a 13-2 record, triumphing over Chiyotaikai on the last day. His second title as a yokozuna, and fifth overall, came in the following tournament in November with a 12-3 score. He lost to Kotomitsuki on the final day but the championship had already been decided earlier in the day when his only challenger Chiyotaikai pulled out through injury. His yokozuna rival Asashōryū missed both these tournaments through suspension.
In the January 2008 tournament, he faced the returning Asashōryū on the final day with both wrestlers having a 13-1 score. In a bout lasting nearly a minute, Hakuhō defeated Asashōryū, winning his 6th championship with a 14-1 record.