Reformer Takanohana elected to sumo board

Kyodo News

Reform-minded former yokozuna Takanohana was elected to the 10-man Japan Sumo Association board on Monday.

Takanohana was among 11 candidates running in the governing body’s first board election in eight years, held because of his surprise departure from the Nishonoseki faction.

Takanohana, 37, drew 10 votes. Oshima lost his seat after receiving eight votes. “I’m honored to have received votes from nine stable masters. I’d like to take responsible action,” said Takanohana, who cast a ballot for himself to make it 10. “Today is my start. I’d like to listen to young stable masters as much as possible and take their opinions to board meetings.”

A total of 111 members of the association cast ballots. Musashigawa was re-elected as chairman of the association by the new board shortly after the vote.

Nishonoseki, one of five groups comprised of various stables, initially planned to send three candidates, all older than Takanohana, to the board.

Takanohana then parted ways with Nishonoseki to unveil his candidacy in an apparent move to avoid internal conflict.

The turmoil intensified when six other Nishonoseki stable masters left the group in support of Takanohana’s bid to reform sumo, which has been rocked by numerous scandals in recent years.

The new board immediately faces one big issue: Asashoryu’s alleged drunken rampage last month in Tokyo.

The Mongolian-born yokozuna, 29, was reported by the weekly magazine Friday last week to have been “wrecked” before slugging an acquaintance, who was originally believed to have been his manager, outside a nightclub in Nishi-Azabu on Jan. 16.

However, another tabloid-style magazine, Shukan Shincho, reported that the man who was attacked and suffered injuries that included a broken nose, was in charge of a dance club where the yokozuna had been drinking.

Sumo’s self-styled enfant terrible and a 25-time Emperor’s Cup winner, Asashoryu is no stranger to controversy and his frequent breaches of protocol have led to an increasingly strained relationship with the sumo establishment.