Koji Kitao, Ex-Yokozuna Futahaguro, Dies at 55

Society Sports

Tokyo, March 29 (Jiji Press)--Koji Kitao, who was a yokozuna sumo grand champion with his ring name Futahaguro, died of chronic kidney failure on Feb. 10, it was learned Friday. He was 55.

A native of Tsu, the capital of Mie Prefecture, central Japan, Kitao, who belonged to Tatsunami stable, made his professional sumo debut in the spring grand tournament of March 1979, when he graduated from junior high school.

After debuting in the makuuchi top division in the autumn tournament of September 1984, he was promoted to the second-highest rank of ozeki after the Kyushu tournament of November 1985.

He became yokozuna after the Nagoya tournament of July 1986 at the age of 22, although he had never won a makuuchi tournament. It was very rare for a sumo wrestler without a tournament victory to be elevated to the highest rank.

His rise to yokozuna was decided on the back of his great potential as a sumo wrestler even though some argued that the promotion was too early.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press