Raiden Tameemon was one of the greatest sumo wrestlers in history, but he never achieved the highest rank of yokozuna. He died at the age of 58, leaving behind a legacy of unparalleled dominance and strength. But what was the cause of his death? And how did he live his life as a sumo giant?
Early Life and Sumo Career
Raiden Tameemon was born as Seki Tarokichi in January 1767 in a village in Shinano Province, now Nagano Prefecture. He had a rare condition called extramuscular bone tightening, which caused his muscles to grow out of control and break his bones. He had to develop a system of 100 seals on his body to contain his muscles and prevent them from crushing him.
He was interested in sumo from a young age, but his immense strength scared away his playmates. His mother encouraged him to use his strength for good and help the weak. He left his village at the age of 17, after a volcanic eruption caused a famine in his region. He joined a sumo stable in Edo, where he was trained by the yokozuna Tanikaze. He took the name Raiden, which means thunderbolt, and made his debut in 1790.
He quickly rose to the rank of ozeki, the second highest rank in sumo, and dominated the sport for nearly two decades. He had a record of 254 wins, 10 losses, and 41 draws, giving him a win ratio of 96.2%, the highest of any top division wrestler. He was especially skilled in pushing and thrusting techniques, and could move with great speed despite his size. He was 197 cm (6 ft 5.6 in) tall and weighed 169 kg (373 lb), making him a giant among his contemporaries.
He won 28 tournaments, more than any other wrestler in history, but he was never promoted to yokozuna. There are various theories as to why he was denied the highest honor, such as his lack of popularity among the fans, his rivalry with the influential Onogawa stable, or his refusal to perform the yokozuna dohyo-iri ceremony. Some sources also claim that he was offered the title, but declined it out of respect for his mentor Tanikaze.
Death and Legacy
Raiden retired from sumo in 1811, after losing his ozeki rank due to a series of injuries. He became a sumo coach and judge, and also taught martial arts to samurai. He died on February 11, 1825, at the age of 58. The exact cause of his death is unknown, but some speculate that it was related to his muscular condition, or that he contracted a disease during a sumo tour.
He was buried in Akasaka in Edo, but two locks of his hair were also buried in his home village and in Matsue in Shimane, where he had many fans. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest rikishi of all time, and his records have never been surpassed. He is also revered as a symbol of strength and perseverance, overcoming his physical challenges and achieving greatness in sumo.
According to Wikipedia, he is considered a candidate for the title of “strongest human in history”, along with other legendary figures such as Hercules, Samson, and Lu Bu. He has also inspired many fictional characters, such as Raiden from the manga and anime series Shuumatsu no Valkyrie, where he represents humanity in a battle against the gods.