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Taiho

Taiho, 1940–2013, Japanese sumo wrestler. The son of a Japanese mother and a Ukrainian father, he was born on Sakhalin Island as Ivan Boryshko; his Japanese name Koki Naya. At the end of World War II, he and his mother were repatriated to Japan; his anticommunist father was most likely arrested and disappeared into the Soviet penal system. He entered sumo wrestling in 1956, taking the name Taiho [=great phoenix]. Comparatively short and slim (6 ft 1 in./184.5 cm tall, and weighing 165 lb/75 kg when he began and 320 lb/145 kg at the height of his career), Taiho relied on skillful technique rather than size, and dominated sumo until his retirement in 1971. He won the first of his record 32 championships in 1960; he is thought to be the youngest champion in sumo's 2,000-year history. He became a yokozuna (grand master) in 1961. Among his accomplishments were winning six tournaments in a row twice and winning 45 consecutive matches (1968–69).

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