Former sumo grand champion Taiho diesBy AP News Jan 20, 2013 2:00PM UTC
TOKYO (AP) — Former sumo grand champion Taiho, whose 32 championships are the most in the history of Japan’s ancient sport, has died at age 72.
Taiho, whose real name was Koki Naya, died of heart disease Saturday afternoon at a Tokyo hospital, the Japan Sumo Association announced.
Taiho won 32 Emperor’s Cups in a sumo career that started in 1956 and lasted until 1971. Taiho twice won six tournaments in a row. He also won eight tournaments with unbeaten records and had a 45-match unbeaten streak.
Chiyonofuji, who retired in 1991, has the second most championships with 31. Mongolian Hakuho leads all current wrestlers with 23 Emperor’s Cups.
“He was sumo history,” Chiyonofuji said. “He taught me that it is a grand champion’s job to give his utmost.”
Born on the island of Sakhalin to a Japanese mother and a Ukrainian father, Taiho made his debut in 1956 and earned his first championship at the Kyushu tournament in 1960.