Dismissed sumo wrestler Gagloev launches lawsuit

by Setsuko Kamiya

Fired wrestler Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev’s lawsuit to win back his membership in the Japan Sumo Association got under way Monday with his lawyers saying he desperately wants to return to the sport.

Gagloev, 20, whose ring name was Wakanoho, was expelled from the JSA on Aug. 21, three days after he was arrested for allegedly possessing marijuana.

At the first session of the lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court, Gagloev’s attorneys submitted a written statement arguing that his dismissal violated the Labor Standards Law, which sets the bar very high when firing employees.

They termed the association’s decision too severe and invalid. However, the JSA’s lawyers, also in writing, countered that the law does not apply to the relationship between JSA and sumo wrestlers, and that the association’s decision was appropriate.

Gagloev did not show up for the session, but his lawyers said it is common in civil cases that plaintiffs do not appear in court unless they are called to testify.

The Russian’s stay in Japan depends on his sumo status. One of his attorneys, Makoto Miyata, said they have filed for an injunction against a possible deportation because his visa will expire in mid-November.

The district court’s second session is scheduled for Nov. 25.

Miyata said Gagloev is currently in Tokyo staying with acquaintances.

In September, the Russian caused a sensation when he told a news conference in Tokyo that he was bribed to fix matches. He said his accusations were an effort to clean up the traditional national sport.

Gagloev’s attorneys said they tried to stop him from holding the news conference.