Yokozuna pair Asashoryu and Hakuho were read the riot act Tuesday for a fiasco in which they nearly came to blows after their head-to-head match on the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
Japan Sumo Association chairman Kitanoumi summoned the two separately to his chambers at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan to warn them over the incident, which was triggered by Asashoryu shoving Hakuho after already winning the match.
“Grand champions should act with composure for the finale of the final day of sumo tournament,” Kitanoumi said. “It is important that they realize their responsibilities as yokozuna.”
Kitanoumi, together with sumo elders Musashigawa and Isenoumi, scolded Hakuho followed by Asashoryu for about five minutes apiece. Both yokozuna appeared apologetic.
“I took the warning very seriously,” said Hakuho. “I think I understand that I lost my composure. I know that I also have to show composure outside the ring.”
Asashoryu, who served a two-tournament ban last year for feigning the extent of his injuries to get out of participating in a regional sumo summer tour, promised his bad-boy antics would stop here.
“I was given a strict warning from the chairman and I have reflected deeply on this. I will make sure not to have this type of thing happen again. I intend to give my all for sumo from now on.”
On Monday, Kitanoumi initially had only issued a warning to Hakuho via his stable master Miyagino, since the yokozuna had purposely hit Asashoryu with his shoulder after the shove.
The JSA’s Yokozuna Deliberation Council, however, said the same day both yokozuna were at fault and should be reprimanded by the chairman for their truculent behavior.
The Mongolian titans, who had already seen their title hopes dashed by Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu on the penultimate day Saturday, had a quick exchange before Hakuho was tugged down to touch the dohyo surface with his hands.
Asashoryu continued to shove Hakuho in the back, resulting in Hakuho’s shoulder bump and Asashoryu retaliating with a light slap across the face. The pair glared at each other before leaving the ring, causing a hush to fall over the auditorium.
The incident brought a damper on the celebrations for Kotooshu, who became the first European wrestler to win an Emperor’s Cup.