Thursday, October 19, 2017

1984 - The Year the Hawaiian Sumo Torch was Passed

1984 marked a pivotal year in foreign participation in sumo wrestling....especially for the Hawaiian wrestlers.  Superstar Takamiyama (Jesse Kuhaulua from Hawaii) ended his historic 20-year career in sumo wrestling.  He racked up an impressive career.  Jesse was the first foreigner to win a sumo tournament and at the time of his retirement had the most kinboshi(victories over yokozuna), most career bouts with 1,653, and was the third heaviest wrestler in sumo history.  Jesse was well like and it was a difficult adjustment for those used to seeing him in the ring after 20 years.  In 1984, up-and-coming Hawaiian superstar Konishiki (Saleva'a Atisano'e from Hawaii) had just broken into the top ranks of sumo and would go on to have a storied, although troublesome, career retiring in 1997.  By all standard marks, Konishiki would have been promoted to yokozuna with his impressive succession of tournament records, but his status as a foreigner and the Sumo Association's general dislike of him prevented him from reaching this goal.

The 1980s were dismal in terms of sumo card sets.  The only sets being produced were playing card sets with pictures of the wrestlers on them.  This 1984 set is the only set that captures the handing of the Hawaiian sumo torch from Takamiyama to Konishiki.  Takamiyama was designated the Jack of Spades and Konishiki the 7 of Diamonds.  Face cards were reserved for the top-ranked wrestlers and Takamiyama was well deserving of this honor.


  1. These are pretty cool. Are they pretty common in Japan? Or after three decades... are they hard to find collectibles?

  2. Some years are actually really hard to find. The early 2000s are the hardest with the early 1980s. And each one usually costs around $20 when they do pop up. I plan on doing a blog entry about these.