Isegahama Seinosuke – Ozeki Kiyokuni Katsuo
by Joe Kuroda
struggled in makushita and he was soon passed by his younger heya
mate, Asasegawa (later M1) who was promoted to juryo at the November
1957 basho. By this time, Tadao changed his shikona from
Wakaikuni to Umenosato, and then to Kiyokuni, taken from two previous
Isegahama oyakatas’ active names, Kiyosegawa (sekiwake) and
Terukuni. Asasegawa's promotion motivated Kiyokuni to train
harder than ever before. As a result, finally, after 26 makushita
basho, Kiyokuni was promoted to juryo at the May 1963 basho, and within
three basho, was promoted to makuuchi.
In his second makuuchi basho, ranked at M13e, he lost his final bout on the last day against sekiwake Daigo to finish with 14 wins and 1 loss. Since yokozuna Taiho won all of his bouts (one with a fusen win), Kiyokuni did not win the yusho. However, he was awarded the gino-sho prize and was promoted to sekiwake for the following basho, having been in the yusho race with Taiho until the final day.
oyakata(former ozeki Kiyokuni) will be taking mandatory retirement from
the Nihon Sumo Association during the Kyushu basho as he reaches his
65th birthday on November 20, 2006.
He was born Tadao Sato in Ogachi-machi (now known as Yuzawa-shi, Akita Prefecture). Tadao was a big child when he graduated from elementary school. He started judo in middle school and became quite proficient at the sport. Tadao was scouted by then-Araiso oyakata (later Isegahama oyakata and former yokozuna Terukuni), but he had no desire to become a rikishi. However, the oyakata wanted him to practice sumo and received permission from his parents for the young boy to join the heya without Tadao's knowledge. Subsequently, Araiso oyakata invited Tadao
visit his heya during summer holiday, and, Tadao, thinking it was a
great way to spend the summer, decided to go along. When he was ready
to leave at the end of summer, he was told that his “visit” was to be
permanent and that all the paperwork had already been completed.
Tadao made his dohyo debut at the September 1956 basho as Wakaikuni from Araiso-beya. He was only 14 years of age and completed mae-zumo as a shin-jo niban deshi (a second level pass). His first jonokuchi basho was at the January 1957 basho, where he finished with 4 wins and 4 losses. Yokozuna Taiho had his debut at the same time, but progressed up the banzuke much faster than Tadao: Tadao was still hovering in makushita when Taiho was promoted to yokozuna.