Kajiro NISHINOUMI (the first) (西ノ海嘉治郎 (初代))

Kajiro NISHINOUMI (February 19, 1855 - November 30, 1908) was sumo wrestler in the middle of the Meiji period. He was the 16th Yokozuna (Sumo Grand Champion). He was the first of the three wrestlers who held the name of 'Kajiro NISHINOUMI' in the history of the Grand Sumo Tournaments. He was 176 centimeters in height and weighed 126 kilograms.

He was from Taki County, Satsuma Province (current Satsuma-sendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture). His real name was Kajiro KOZONO. He joined Kyoto Sumo in 1875 and was raised to Komusubi (wrestler at the fourth highest rank). He moved to Tokyo in 1881 and became a pupil of Takasago Stable. At the January Tournament of 1882, he made his debut with the name of Nishinoumi set at the Makuuchi (top) rank. From June of the same year, he called himself Kajiro NISHINOUMI. He became Shin-Ozeki (wrestler newly promoted to Ozeki [the second highest rank]) in the January Tournament of 1885. However, after two tournaments he fell to Komusubi in the May Tournament in 1887. His winning average of that tournament was not below fifty percent, therefore it is considered that his demotion was only for convenience of the producers or for some publicity. However he got over such difficulties and became Ozeki again in the January Tournament of 1890. After the tournament, he received a Yokozuna license. According to his result, his name had been supposed to be written at the margin of Ozeki's section of the chart (such wrestler was called 'Haridashi-Ozeki' who was originally considered to be at the lower grade than Ozeki) in the May Tournament, however, since he had just gained the title of Yokozuna (called 'Shin-Yokozuna'), he resisted to be called Haridashi, then the producers and masters decided to write the title of Yokozuna at the margin and Nishinoumi compromised on that. At the result, at the May Tournament in 1890, for the first time in the sumo history, the name of Yokozuna was written on the chart (his name was written in the margin of the east side and after that his name had been written in the margin through all the twelve tournaments until his last tournament in January 1896); and after that, Yokozuna became regarded not as an honor but as an official rank. He retired after the January Tournament in 1896.
His result in the Makuuchi was 29 tournaments, 127 wins, 37 defeats, 25 draws, 4 holds, 97 absences, and winning average 77.4%
He got 2 titles which are equivalent to the Championship level today.

He was known for his easy-going character and he was said to have snored loudly in the changing room even just before a bout against a very strong wrestler. His specialty was Izumigawa (sumo technique of holding the opponent's arms and pushing him with one elbow).

After his retirement, he inherited the title of the seventh Izutsu as Toshiyori (retired wrestler). He became independent and opened Izutsu Stable and coached Yokozuna Kajiro NISHINOUMI (the second), Ozeki Kuniriki KOMAGATAKE, Matsutaro OEYAMA and Sekiwake Yojiro SAKAHOKO. Because he was from Kagoshima Prefecture, many young wrestlers from the prefecture visited and they also became pupils of Izutsu Stable.

[Original Japanese]