The Mongolian grand sumo champion Hakuho (his Mongolian name is Davaajargal) once again made history in the Japanese professional sumo wrestling, winning the Emperor’s Cup for the 39th time and setting a career win of 1050.
At the Nagoya tourney in July this year, yokozuna Hakuho, on the ninth day equaled late yokozuna Chiyonofuji for second on the all-time list with 1,045 career wins. Three days later, he sat alongside former ozeki Kaio atop the list with 1,047.
On Friday, 21 July, Hakuho surpassed Kaio’s record, which was set back in 2011.
The record-setting wins by Hakuho are noteworthy.
The late Japanese yokozuna Chiyonofuji made his career wins of 1,045 in 23 years, while Hakuho had equaled and surpassed the record to reach 1,050 career wins in just 16 years.
His 39th career championship at the Nagoya tourney was also the most in the nearly 270 years of sumo’s recorded history. He had overtaken the previous career championship record of 32 held by Taiho, the legendary 1960s yokozuna widely regarded as the greatest champion of the post-war period, in January 2015 during the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.
Davaajargal or Hakuho went to Japan from Mongolia in 2000 when he was 15, a late age to start professional sumo. He was also of modest size, and no training stable was eager to accept him. Even after he was chosen by the Miyagino stable on his final day in Japan, his ascent to stardom was hardly immediate.
But after 2003, when he grew two inches taller and scaled 75 lb, he gradually but steadily climbed up sumo’s hierarchy of ranks.
In 2007, he became just the 69th man in the history of Japan’s ancient sport — and only the fourth foreigner — to earn the rank of yokozuna.
Hakuho comes from a family with a wrestling tradition. His father Mönkhbat is one of the four greatest modern-time champions in Mongolian style wrestling called bökh, which does not have a weight category, just like in sumo, but unlike sumo, it is held on an open grass field, with 512 wrestlers competing at one time, leaving two finalists at the ninth round and one of them had been, for many years, Hakuho’s father.