itanoumi Toshimitsu was born on May 16, 1953 as Obata Toshimitsu, and died on November 20, 2015 from multiple organ failure resulting from rectal cancer..
He was a sumo wrestler. He was the dominant yokozuna in sumo during the 1970s.
Obata was promoted to yokozuna at age 21, becoming the youngest ever to achieve sumo’s top rank, and he remained a yokozuna for a record 63 tournaments.
He won 24 tournament championships during his career and was one of a series of truly great yokozuna who came from Hokkaidō, the most northerly of the four main islands of Japan.
Following his retirement in 1985, Obata established Kitanoumi stable.
Obata was chairman of the Japan Sumo Association from 2002 until 2008, and from 2012 until his death.
Born in Sōbetsu, Usu District, Kitanoumi began his professional career in January 1967 at 13, whilst still in middle school.
Obata joined Mihogaseki stable, and was promoted to sumo’s second highest jūryō division in May 1971 and the top makuuchi division a year later.
He won his first top division yūshō or tournament championship in January 1974 and was promoted to ōzeki immediately afterwards.
Obata secured promotion to yokozuna just three tournaments after that.
At 21 years, 2 months, he was the youngest ever yokozuna, beating the previous record held by Taiho by one month.
Obata was the most successful wrestler in sumo for the rest of the 1970s.
His dominance meant that he was not that popular with the general public.
When he was defeated by underdog Takanohana in a playoff for the championship in September 1975, the audience threw so many zabuton—or cushions—into the ring in delight, that Kitanoumi said he could “hardly see the ceiling.”
His best year was 1978, when he won 5 of the 6 tournaments and won 82 out of a possible 90 bouts, a record that stood until 2005.
His chief rival during these years was Wajima, but Kitanoumi was much more consistent.
Obata was heavy at 169 kg, was extremely strong and had excellent balance. He was also remarkably injury free and rarely missed a tournament.
Indeed, from July 1973 until September 1981 he chalked up fifty consecutive kachi-koshi, or tournament records of at least 8 wins out of 15, which is a record in the top division.
Obata passed away at age 62 in November 2015.