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“First Foreign Yokozuna was Korean”

Posted January. 12, 2007 06:35,   


“The first foreign yokozuna in Japan was not Akebono but Tamanoumi.”

It was the feature title of the weekly magazine ‘Shukan Shincho’ sold in Japan on January 10.

Yokozuna is the highest rank of the Japanese sumo wrestler, and is equivalent to the ‘chunhajangsa’ of Korean wrestling. Akebono is a sumo wrestler from Hawaii, who became a yokozuna in 1993. In his wake Japan was in a frenzy of his being the ‘first foreign yokozuna.’

The magazine quoted the Korean non-fiction ‘Yakuza and Yokozuna’ (Cho Hun-ju) published last year, “Tamanoumi, who died at age 27 in 1971 after becoming a yokozuna in 1970, was Korean,” and “thus the ‘first foreign yokozuna’ was Tamanoumi.”

The magazine used the expression ‘stunning’, and explained in detail his family history in which Tamanoumi, whose Korean name was Jung Jung-bu, entered the world of sumo upon graduating from junior high school and changed his family record to erase his father’s Korean heritage, living as a child born out of wedlock by his Japanese mother, Haruyo Tanikuchi.