More in sumo admit betting on baseball

Stablemaster, makuuchi pair also gambled

Kyodo News

Stablemaster Tokitsukaze and two wrestlers in the top makuuchi division, Goeido and Toyohibiki, have admitted being involved in illegal gambling on professional baseball in a statement submitted to the Japan Sumo Association, sources said Friday.

Tokitsukaze has also explained himself to police in connection with the case, the sources said.

Stablemaster Otake, who has admitted to police that he had bet on baseball games, and Toyonoshima, the top-division wrestler at Tokitsukaze’s stable who had formerly wrestled at the third-highest rank of sekiwake, have also submitted statements to the association acknowledging their involvement, the sources said.

The five are known to have long-standing ties with Kotomitsuki, an ozeki who has confessed to gambling on baseball and has been suspended from the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in July.

“I can’t say anything because I have left the matter up to the sumo association, pending (police) investigation,” said stablemaster Sakaigawa, who oversees Goeido and Toyohibiki at his stable.

Tokitsukaze is the ex-makuuchi-division wrestler Tokitsuumi, who took over a stable in October 2008 from a master who went by the same name and was fired by the association after being convicted in connection with the fatal abuse of a teenage wrestler at the stable earlier that year.

Goeido, a 24-year-old former high school yokozuna, has commanded attention for being promoted to third-ranked sekiwake at a tournament last summer, while Toyohibiki, 25, has won special awards three times.

As the scandal rocking the ancient national sport widens, sports minister Tatsuo Kawabata said Friday the sumo association’s external investigative panel will disclose a report on the matter around the end of this month.

The panel will eventually decide on whether it will make public the names of all of the elders and wrestlers involved in illegal betting and whether to allow them to take part in the Nagoya tourney.

Meanwhile, food manufacturer Nagatanien Co. is considering reducing cash rewards provided to wrestlers starting with the Nagoya event, company officials said.

The company, which has provided rewards totaling ¥12 million at each tournament, is considering the move, given the social impact the scandal has had, one of the officials said.

In a survey conducted by the JSA on illegal gambling in sumo, 29 association members, including elders, said they have indulged in gambling on baseball games — allegedly under an arrangement with the mob.