USA Famous People of Hawaii

Hawaii Biographies

  George Ariyoshi first Japanese-American elected governor George Ryoichi Ariyoshi (有吉良一, born March 12, 1926), served as the third Governor of Hawaiʻi from 1974 to 1986. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He assumed the governorship when John A. Burns was declared incapacitated. When he was elected, Ariyoshi became the first American of Asian descent to be elected governor of a state of the United States. He also holds the record as the longest-serving state governor in Hawaiʻi, a record that will likely never be broken because of term limits. Ariyoshi is now considered an elder statesman of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, to Japanese immigrant parents, Ariyoshi graduated in 1944 from McKinley High School. As World War II drew to a close, he served as an interpreter with the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Service in Japan. Upon returning stateside, he first attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, then transferred to Michigan State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949. He then went on to receive his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. • George Ariyoshi Books

  Hiram Bingham missionary, Honolulu (1789–1869), born in Bennington, Vermont, was in the first group of Protestant missionaries to introduce Christianity to the Hawaiian islands.

Bingham is descended from Deacon Thomas Bingham who had come to the American colonies in 1650 and settled in Connecticut. He attended Middlebury College and the Andover Theological Seminary.  He broke off an engagement and found a new bride, Sybil Mosley, in order to become a missionary. On October 23, 1819 he was sent from Boston along with Asa and Lucy Goodale Thurston to lead a mission by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Bingham and his wife arrived first on the Island of Hawaii in 1820 aboard the brig Thaddeus, and then sailed on to Honolulu. In 1823, Queen Kaʻahumanu and six high chiefs requested baptism. Soon after, the government banned prostitution and drunkenness, which resulted in the shipping industry and the foreign community resenting Bingham's spiritual impact. Bingham was involved in the creation of the spelling system for the Hawaiian Language and also translated some books of the Bible into Hawaiian. • Hiram Bingham Books

  Tia Carrere (1967 - ) Singer and actress.  She is most well-known for her role as Wayne's girlfriend in the "Wayne's World" movies; (Born Althea Rae Duhinio Janairo on January 2, 1967 in Honolulu.) she is an American actress, model, and Grammy Award winning singer, perhaps most widely known for her role as Cassandra in the feature films Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2 and as Sydney Fox in the TV series Relic Hunter. The daughter of Audrey Duhinio Janairo, a computer supervisor, and Alexander Janairo, a banker. She is of Filipino descent. Carrere attended Sacred Hearts Academy, an all girls school. Carrere longed to be a singer as a child. Although she was eliminated during the first round of her 1985 Star Search appearance at the age of 17, she was spotted by the parents of a local producer while shopping at a Waikiki grocery store and was cast in the movie Aloha Summer. • Tia Carrere Books • Tia Carrere Movies • Tia Carrere Discography
  Father Damien leper-colony worker or Saint Damien of Molokai, SS.CC. (Dutch: Pater Damiaan or Heilige Damiaan van Molokai; January 3, 1840 – April 15, 1889), born Jozef De Veuster, was a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary religious order. He won recognition for his ministry to people with leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease), who had been placed under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii.

After sixteen years caring for the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of those in the leper colony, he eventually contracted and died of the disease, and is widely considered a "martyr of charity". He is the ninth person canonized by the Roman Catholic Church to have lived, worked, and died in what is now the United States.

In the Roman and Eastern Catholic Churches, Damien is considered a saint, one who is holy and worthy of public veneration. In the Anglican communion, as well as other denominations of Christianity, Damien is considered the spiritual patron for Hansen's disease, HIV and AIDS patients, and outcasts • Father Damien Books

  Sanford B. Dole (1844-1926) Leader that helped to overthrow Queen Liliuokalani and became president of the Republic of Hawaii; born in Honolulu. Dole was born in Honolulu to a family of white Protestant Christian missionaries from Norridgewock, Maine in the United States. His cousin was the pineapple magnate James Dole who followed the elder Dole to Hawaiʻi in later years. Dole was part of a wealthy, elite immigrant community in the Hawaiian Islands that established a dominant presence in the local political climate. Serving as a successful attorney and friend of King David Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani,

Dole pursued and advocated the westernization of Hawaiian society and culture. Dole participated in a revolution in 1887 in which local businessmen, sugar planters and politicians backed by the Honolulu Rifles forced adoption of the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii written by Interior Minister Lorrin A. Thurston. It stripped voting rights from all Asians outright, and disenfranchised poor Native Hawaiians and other citizens by imposing income and wealth requirements for voting, thus effectively consolidating power with the elite Native Hawaiian, European and American subjects of the kingdom. • Sanford B. Dole Books

  Sid Fernandez (1962- ) Pitcher for the New York Mets that won the World Series in 1986;

Born in Honolulu, he was a left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1983 to 1997. Sometimes known as "El Sid", he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, and Houston Astros. His best years were with the Mets from 1984 to 1993 and he was an integral part of the 1986 World Series Championship team. Born in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, Fernandez was proud of his roots and wore uniform number 50 in honor of Hawaiʻi being the 50th state. The theme song to Hawaii Five-O was often played before the start of each game he pitched at Shea Stadium. According to the Portuguese Heritage Foundation, Fernandez is believed to be of Portuguese descent.• Sid Fernandez Books

  Hiram L. Fong (1907 - ) The first Chinese-American senator, was born in 1907. (, Kuΰng Yǒuliαng), born Yau Leong Fong (October 15, 1906 – August 18, 2004), was an American businessman and politician from Hawaii. He is most notable for his service as Republican United States Senator from 1959 to 1977, and for being the first Asian American and Chinese American to be elected as such. In 1964, Fong became the first Asian American to run for his party's nomination for President of the United States. As of 2008, he is the only Republican to ever hold a Senate seat from Hawaii and the only Asian American to actively seek the Presidential nomination of the Republican Party. He would be followed by Patsy Mink, also from Hawaii, who sought the nomination of the Democratic Party in 1972. • Hiram L. Fong Books
  Don Ho (1930 - ) Hawaii's most famous entertainer, born in Honolulu. Hawaiian vocalist/songwriter Ho released his first album in 1965, and from then until his death in 2007, it could be argued that he was the island version of Sammy Davis Jr. — a versatile entertainer as well as a compelling singer. He cut the lilting ballad "Tiny Bubbles," his first big hit and his signature song until the end of his life, in 1966, and soon afterwards took the mainland by tropical storm. From Las Vegas to New York, the affable Ho performed anywhere and everywhere. He hit his peak of popularity in the late-'60s and early '70s, thanks in part to appearances on such TV shows as The Brady Bunch, Batman and I Dream of Jeannie. Ho led a relatively drama-free life — no documented heroin binges, polygamy or the like — which one would think might make for a less-than-scintillating autobiography. But the performer was so beloved that the reader can t help but be charmed by this generous outing. • Don Ho Books • Don Ho Discography
  Senator Daniel K. Inouye (1924 -) First member of the U.S. Congress from Hawaii, and the first Japanese American to serve in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Born in Honolulu.born September 7, 1924) is an American politician who currently serves as the senior United States Senator from Hawaii. He has been a U.S. Senator since 1963 and, following the recent death of Ted Kennedy, is currently the second-most-senior member after fellow Democrat Robert Byrd. He is the third longest serving U.S Senator in history, after Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond. He has continuously represented Hawaii in the U.S. Congress since it achieved statehood in 1959, serving as Hawaii's first U.S. Representative and later a U.S. Senator. Inouye was the first Japanese-American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and later the first in the U.S. Senate. He is the third oldest U.S. Senator after Robert Byrd and Frank Lautenberg. He is also a recipient of the Medal of Honor. • Senator Daniel K. Inouye Books

  Gerrit P. Judd - Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803–1873) was an American physician and missionary to the Kingdom of Hawaii who later became a trusted advisor and cabinet minister to King Kamehameha III.

Gerrit P. Judd was born April 23, 1803 in Paris, Oneida County, New York, the son of Elnathan Judd and his wife Betsey Hastings. He was educated as a physician at the medical college in Fairfield, New York. He married Laura Fish (1804–1872) on September 20, 1827 in Clinton, New York. He sailed to Hawaii (which were known as the "Sandwich Islands") in 1827, on the ship Parthian, the third company from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He was assigned to the mission at Honolulu, Hawaii on the island of Oahu, as a missionary physician, and continued in that employment fifteen years • Gerrit P. Judd Books

  Kaahumanu Hawaiian queen Elizabeth Kaʻahumanu (March 17, 1768 –June 5, 1832) was queen regent of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and a wife of Kamehameha I. She was the king's favorite wife and also the most politically powerful, and continued to wield considerable power in the kingdom as the kuhina nui or prime minister during the reigns of his first two

Kaʻahumanu was born in a cave near Hāna on the Hawaiian Island of Maui between 1768 and 1773. Her parents were Keʻeaumoku Papaiahiahi, a fugitive aliʻi or noble from the Big Island, and Namahana'i'Kaleleokalani, the wife of her half-brother the late king of Maui, Kamehameha Nui. From her mother she was member of the noble house of Maui being relative of many of the kings of Maui. From her father, she was the third cousin of Kamehameha I, both sharing the common ancestoress, Princess Kalanikauleleiwi. Her name translates as the feathered mantle.

Her siblings include Governor John Adams Kuakini of Hawaii, Queen Kalakua Kaheiheimalie, Governor George Cox Kahekili Ke'eaumoku II of Maui, Lydia Namahana Pi'ia. Her father became an advisor and friend to Kamehameha of Hawaiʻi, eventually becoming royal governor of Maui. He arranged for Kaʻahumanu to marry him when she was thirteen. Kamehameha had numerous wives but Kaʻahumanu would become his favorite. It was she who encouraged her husband's war of unification of Hawaiʻi. • Kaahumanu Books

  Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (1890-1968) Hawaii's first Olympic medallist in swimming; born in Maui. Until Joseph Brennan's Duke: The Life Story of Duke Kahanamoku (1994) is reprinted or another comparable book is made available, the sporting world's great interest in Duke Kahanamoku, Olympic star and the greatest surfing avatar of the 20th century, may be satisfied by Sandra Kimberley Hall's compact Duke: A Great Hawaiian (2004), a brief but beautifully illustrated overview of the champion's life. Whether as a record-breaking swimmer, a surfer and surfboard innovator, an entrepreneur, an actor in early Holloywood, the Sheriff of Honolulu or as a janitor or garage mechanic during leaner periods of his existence, Duke Kahanamoku was, first and foremost, a gentleman and an ambassador of traditional Hawaiian good manners and 'aloha,' a word which, in addition to other meanings, encompasses a wide range of positive human feelings, from "love, affection, and compassion" to "grace and charity." • Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Books
  Kamehameha I (c. 1758 -1819) Ruler that unified the Kingdom of Hawaii; born in Kohala. A comet blazes across the night sky, heralding the birth of a powerful king who will rule the Hawaiian Islands. Then a baby is spirited away to the mountains to escape a jealous chief wary of the prophecy. As dramatic as a Greek myth, the story of Kamehameha the Great, Hawai'i's warrior king, is retold here for readers of all ages. From his childhood in exile to his return to court and the lifting of the great Naha Stone, we follow this brave and ambitious youth as he paves his way to becoming first conqueror and then monarch of a unified Hawaiian kingdom. • Kamehameha I Books
  Kamehameha V last of the dynasty (1830–1872), born as Lot Kapuāiwa, reigned as monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi from 1863 to 1872. He was born and died on his 42nd birthday 11 December 1872. His motto was "Onipa`a": immovable, firm, steadfast or determined; he worked diligently for his people and kingdom and was described as the last great chief of the olden type, like his grandfather Kamehameha I. His full Hawaiian name prior to his succession was Lota Liholiho Kapuāiwa Kalanimakua Kalanikapuapaikalaninui Ali`iolani Kalani-a-Kekūanaō‘a.

He was born Lot Kapuaiwa December 11, 1830 to Elisabeta Kīnau and her husband Mataio Kekuanaoʻa. Kapuaiwa means mysterious kapu or sacred one protected by supernatural powers. His siblings include David Kamehameha, Moses Kekuaiwa, Alexander Liholiho, and Victoria Kamamalu. He was hanaied (adopted) by the Princess Nahienaena but she died in 1836 and so, High Chief Ulumaheihei Hoapili and Queen Kalakua Kaheiheimalie his grandmother. He was educated at the Royal School like his cousins and siblings. He was betrothed to Bernice Pauahi at birth but fell deeply in love with his cousin, Abigail Maheha at the Royal School. He was only 5 years old when he was caught sleeping with Abigail She became pregnant with his child when he was 15 and she 13. On February 4, 1846 when she was 6 months pregnant, she was removed from the Royal School, separated from Lot • Kamehameha v Books

  Barack Hussein Obama II (/bəˈrɑːk huːˈseɪn oʊˈbɑːmə/ ( listen); born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born in Hawaii. Obama previously served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008.

Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. • Barack Hussein Obama Books
  George Parsons Lathrop journalist, poet (25 August 1851, Honolulu, Hawaii – 19 April 1898, New York) was a poet, novelist and brother of Francis Lathrop. He was educated at New York and Dresden, Germany, when he returned to New York, and decided on a literary career. Going to England on a visit he was married in London, 11 September 1871, to Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne. In 1875 he became associate editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and remained in that position two years, leaving it for newspaper work in Boston and New York. His contributions to the periodical and daily Press were varied and voluminous. In 1883 he founded the American Copyright League, which finally secured the international copyright law.

He was also one of the founders of the Catholic Summer School of America. He and his wife were received into the Roman Catholic Church in New York in March 1891. After his death his widow, as Mother M. Alphonsa, organized a community of Dominican tertiaries, The Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer Patients, who took charge of two cancer hospitals at New York. Among his published works are: Rose and Rose-tree (1875), poems; A Study of Hawthorne (1876); Afterglow (1876), a novel; Spanish Vistas (1883), a work on travel; Newport (1884), a novel; Dreams and Days (1892), poems; A Story of Courage (1894), centenary history of the Visitation Convent, Georgetown, D.C. He edited (1883) a complete, and the standard, edition of Hawthorne's works, and adapted The Scarlet Letter for Walter Damrosch's opera of that title, which was produced at New York in 1896. • George Parsons Lathrop Books

  Liliuokalani queen, last Hawaiian monarch (September 2, 1838 – November 11,  1917), born Lydia Kamakaʻeha Kaola Maliʻi Liliʻuokalani, was the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. She was also known as Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī, with the chosen royal name of Liliʻuokalani, and she was later named Kaolupoloni K. Dominis.

Liliʻuokalani was born on 2 September 1838 to High Chieftess Analea Keohokalole and High Chief Caesar Kaluaiku Kapaʻakea. In accordance with Hawaiian tradition, she was adopted at birth by Abner Pākī and his wife Laura Kōnia. Liliuokalani’s childhood years were spent studying and playing with her foster sister Bernice Pauahi, the Pākīs' natural daughter.

The Premier Elizabeth Kīnaʻu had developed an eye infection at the time of Liliʻu's birth. She gave her the names Liliʻu (smarting), Loloku (tearful), Walania (a burning pain), and Kamakaʻeha (sore eyes), translated as Lydia Smarting Tearful Anguish the Sore Eyes. Liliʻu's brother changed it when he named her Crown Princess, calling her Liliʻuokalani, "the smarting of the royal ones". • Liliuokalani Books

  Bette Midler (1945- ) Actress and singer made famous in Beaches; born in Honolulu.In Bette, biographer George Mair tells how Bette Midler at 20 went from a pineapple factory worker in Hawaii to a regular gig in the Broadway hit, Fiddler on the roof in less than a year. Bette Midler blossomed into "The Divine Miss M", the diva once described as one of the "raunchiest and funniest live acts going. " Her movies range from the portrayal of the doomed Janis Joplin-esque character in The Rose to comedies like Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Ruthless People. Her many hit singles include The Rose, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Wind Beneath My Wings, and From a Distance. But there is another Bette Midler out of the spotlight: insecure, uncertain, vulnerable, overweight, never at ease with herself and frightened of relationships with men and money.

Bette reveals the cruel relationships and family tragedies throughout her life. Bette examines the continuing appeal and loyalty between her and a vast audience of gay men. And, finally, it describes the great joy she's found in her unlikely marriage to Martin von Haselberg, A German commodity broker and performance artist. • Bette Midler Books • Bette Midler Movies • Bette Midler Discography

  Ellison Onizuka astronaut Ellison Shoji Onizuka (June 24, 1946 - January 28, 1986) was a Japanese American astronaut from Kealakekua, Kona, Hawaii who successfully flew into space with the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-51-C, before losing his life to the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger, where he was serving as Mission Specialist for mission STS-51-L. He was the first Asian American to reach space.

Ellison Onizuka was the oldest son and second youngest child of the late Masamitsu and Mitsue Onizuka. He had two older sisters, Shirley and Norma, and a younger brother, Claude. Claude became the family spokesman when Ellison attained fame as an astronaut and continued after the Challenger accident. Growing up, Ellison was an active participant in 4-H and the Boy Scouts, where he reached the level of Eagle Scout.

He graduated from Konawaena High School in Kealakekua in 1964. He received a Bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering in June 1969, and a Master's in that field in December of the same year, from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He participated in Air Force ROTC during his time there and is an alumnus of Triangle Fraternity. • Ellison Onizuka Books

  Kawaipuna Prejean - Gayle Kawaipuna Prejean (April 14, 1943 – April 14, 1992) was a Hawaiian nationalist, activist and advocate for the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Prejean was founder of the Hawaiian Coalition of Native Claims.

A pioneer of sovereignty during the "Hawaiian Renaissance" of the 1970s, Prejean was one of the first voices to advocate for Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) independence at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland . He was involved in the formation of the movement to stop the bombing of the island of Kahoʻolawe by the U.S. Navy; this was an issue which catalyzed the formation of the modern "Hawaiian Movement".

Prejean was known for his music and "stand-up" comedy as well as for his unrelenting criticism of the U.S. military presence in Hawaiʻi. It was Kawaipuna Prejean who originally proposed the convening of the 1993 Kanaka Maoli Tribunal, and other historical actions which were carried out after his death.

Kawaipuna Prejean died on his 49th birthday while fighting to stop the construction of Interstate H-3 , which destroyed many ancient Hawaiian sites and substantially impacted native species along its path on the island of Oʻahu, including several probable extinctions • Kawaipuna Prejean Books

  Harold Sakata (1920 - 1982) Actor, famous in his role as Oddjob in the 007 film Goldfinger. Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli took notice of Sakata because of his heavy build--he stood 5 ft 9 in and weighed 284 lb (129 kg)--which, when coupled with his intimidating gaze, made him the perfect choice for the part of Oddjob. He had no acting background at all besides pro wrestling, but the film character was mute and required little theatrical skill.

Before Sakata had secured the role of Oddjob, another former wrestler, British actor Milton Reid, had auditioned for the role In 1964 Reid challenged Sakata to a wrestling contest and whoever was the winner would be the deciding factor for who would get the role. But since Reid had been in Dr. No and his character killed off, the producers decided to go with Sakata and the wrestling match didn't take place. •  no books • Harold Sakata Movies

  Claus Spreckels developer formally Adolph Claus J. Spreckels (July 9, 1828 – December 26, 1908), (his last name has also been spelled as Spreckles), was a major industrialist in Hawai'i during the kingdom, republican and territorial periods of the islands' history. He also involved himself in several California enterprises, most notably the company that bears his name, Spreckels Sugar Company.

Spreckels was born in Lamstedt, Hanover, now a state of Germany. In 1846, he left his homeland to start a new life in the United States. In 1852 he married his childhood sweetheart, Anna Christina Mangels (1829-1910), who had immigrated to New York City with her brother three years earlier. They had thirteen children, five of whom lived to maturity: John Diedrich (1853-1926), Adolph Bernard (1857-1924), Claus August (1858-1946), Rudolph (1872-1958) and daughter, Emma C. (Spreckels) Watson Ferris Hutton.

The family first settled in South Carolina, where Spreckels opened a grocery store business. Within a short time they moved to New York City, then in 1856 relocated to San Francisco, where Spreckels began a brewery and made a fortune. Spreckels used some of his wealth to purchase vast tracts of land in California and Hawai'i to grow sugar beets and sugarcane. Spreckels entered the sugar business in the mid 1860s and came to dominate the Hawaiian sugar trade on the West Coast • Claus Spreckels Books

  Don Stroud actor Don Lee Stroud (born 1 September 1943) is an American actor and surfer who appeared in many films in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, and has starred in over 100 movies and 175 television shows to date.

Stroud was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he grew up, the son of comedian and vaudevillien Clarence Stroud (of the Stroud Twins), and singer Ann Livermore (nιe McCormack), who toured the world with Frank Sinatra. Stroud's mother and stepfather owned and operated the popular "Embers Steak House" and nightclub where Ann performed nightly.

Stroud was surfing at Waikiki when he was discovered by actor Troy Donahue who was filming ABC's Hawaiian Eye and needed a stunt double for his surfing scenes. Don, at 18, 6' 2" and 175 pounds, stepped up and was hired on the spot. He loved the gig so much, he decided to go to Hollywood to give acting a try. Upon arriving in L. A., he landed a variety of jobs, including parking cars, bouncer and then manager of the world famous "Whiskey A Go-Go" nightclub on the Sunset Strip, where such greats as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison of the "Doors" appeared. It was at the "Whiskey" that actor Sidney Poitier turned Don on to his acting career. Stroud went on to become one of Hollywood's great heavies and character actors. Stroud co-starred with Clint Eastwood in two films, Coogan's Bluff in 1968 and Joe Kidd in 1972. He also appeared in several episodes of CBS's Hawaii Five-0 and in the Barry Sullivan NBC western series The Road West. • Don Stroud Books • Don Stroud Movies

  Merlin Tuttle mammalogist, Honolulu Merlin Devere Tuttle, an American ecologist, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1941. He co-directed the Venezuelan Research Project of the Smithsonian Institution from 1965 to 1967, performed research on population ecology at the University of Minnesota in 1972, then became curator of mammals at the Milwaukee Public Museum from 1975 to 1986.

He made many contributions to studies of predator and prey interaction and foraging behavior in mammals, and the energetics of thermo-regulation, hibernation, and migration in bats. He founded Bat Conservation International (1982) in Austin, Texas to "promote a positive image of bats and encourage their preservation."

Tuttle has been a prominent photographer of bats, and most of the photographs of bats people see in newspaper articles, books, and other sources were taken by him • Merlin Tuttle Books

  Chad Rowan Yokozuna sumo wrestler Akebono Tarō (曙 太郎, Akebono Tarō?, born May 8, 1969 as Chad Haakeo Rowan) is a retired sumo wrestler from Waimānalo, Hawaiʻi. Joining the professional sport in Japan in 1988, he was trained by pioneering Hawaiian sumo wrestler Takamiyama and rose swiftly up the rankings, reaching the top division in 1990. After two consecutive yusho or tournament championships in November 1992 and January 1993 he made history by becoming the first foreign born wrestler ever to reach yokozuna, the highest rank in sumo.

One of the tallest and heaviest wrestlers ever, Akebono's rivalry with the young Japanese hopes, Takanohana and Wakanohana, was a big factor in the increased popularity of sumo at tournament venues and on TV in the early 1990s. During his eight years at the yokozuna rank, Akebono won a further eight tournament championships, for a career total of eleven, and was a runner-up on thirteen other occasions, despite suffering several serious injury problems. Although his rival yokozuna Takanohana won more tournaments in this period, their individual head-to-heads remained very close. Akebono became a Japanese citizen in 1996 and after retiring in 2001, he worked as a coach at Azumazeki stable before leaving the Sumo Association in 2003. After an unsuccessful period as a K-1 fighter, he is now a freelance professional wrestler, and is one half of the AJPW All Asia Tag Team Champions with Ryota Hama, at the All Japan Pro Wrestling promotion. • Chad Rowan Yokozuna Books

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