Sumo stablemaster gets warning after injuring wrestler with sword

Kyodo News

Another sumo stablemaster landed in hot water Saturday after it was discovered that he injured a junior wrestler by hitting him with a bamboo sword, the Japan Sumo Association said.

Stablemaster Magaki, 55, was given a strict warning by a panel the JSA formed in the wake of the death of a 17-year-old wrestler who had been fatally hazed and beaten by his stablemates in a practice last June. The panel made its decision after convening for an extraordinary meeting the same day.

Magaki, who is on the JSA board of directors, was found to have caned the wrestler from the lower-tier “jonokuchi” division on Wednesday, the fourth day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament under way at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, sumo sources said.

Some of the judges noticed the injury on the wrestler and reported it to the sumo committee, which questioned Magaki about it.

Magaki told reporters that it is natural for a stablemaster to discipline or scold wrestlers if they do something wrong.

“I did it because I love him . . . He apologized crying,” he said, adding that his action was intended to prevent the junior wrestler from repeating his mistakes.

He said that he might try to appeal the sumo committee’s action.

The sumo panel also reprimanded a separate wrestler, 34-year-old Toyozakura from the second-tier “juryo” division, for hitting a jonokuchi wrestler on the head with a cooking implement in January. The attack was triggered by the junior wrestler’s failure to neatly drop off their baggage in their room.

The assault left the jonokuchi rikishi with an injury that required eight stitches.

Toyozakura apologized to the wrestler’s parents and said at a news conference that he would not do it again.

Toyozakura’s stablemaster, Michinoku, 49, also received a warning.

On Feb. 29, prosecutors indicted former stablemaster Tokitsukaze and three wrestlers for the assault and subsequent death of Takashi Saito, whose ring name was Tokitaizan, due to excessive sparring sessions and beatings with metal bats.