Yokozuna - Sumo's highest rank

A look back at the sport of sumo's highest rank - the Yokozuna.

Although the meaning of the title has changed significantly through the history of the sport, the rank of Yokozuna has existed since the 1700s. Originally simply an indicator of how influential a wrestler's patron was, the title has officially been recognized on the banzuke (a document published before each official tournament detailing the wrestlers rankings) since 1890.

In March of this year, Kakury┼ź Rikisabur┼Ź became the 71st wrestler to hold the title. Using data from Wikipedia's list of Yokozuna, we can look back on over 200 years of history of the sport leading up to his appointment.

It is interesting to not that, up until the early ninties, Yokozuna was held by exclusively Japanese wrestlers. However, in recent years, Hawaiian and Mongolian wrestlers have begun to dominate the sport.

The view can be switched from a comparison of careers by age to an overview of the history of the title using the toggle below.

Years as Yokozuna

Over the course of the use of the title, we can see that it is rare for a wrester to spend longer than 8 years in the position, with 4 years being the most common length of a Yokozuna's career before they retire.

To get more information about which wrestlers lasted at the top for certain numbers of years, mouse over a bar.

Please note that this data only reflects the span from promotion to retirement, and does not take into account any time spent away from the sport. Thus it is not an exact indicaiton of "years active as Yokozuna", but rather "years holding title of Yokozuna".


Yokozuna title first appears on banzuke

Yokozuna title officially recognized