Kise wrestlers to join Kitanoumi stable

Kyodo News

Former Japan Sumo Association Chairman Kitanoumi said Saturday his stable will take under its wing the wrestlers of the scandal-hit Kise stable.

The Kitanoumi stable will have a total of 46 sumo wrestlers, the most in sumo, after adding 27 from the Kise stable, including Georgian juryo-division wrestler Gagamaru.

Earlier this week, stablemaster Kise, 40, whose real name is Naoto Sakamoto, was found to have given senior members of an organized crime group tickets for past tournaments, leading the sumo governing body to disband his stable.

Stablemaster Kiyomigata, 64, whose real name is Kazuo Wada, was also involved in the latest scandal to rock the sumo world following former yokozuna Asashoryu’s retirement in February amid allegations he assaulted a man outside a Tokyo nightclub.

According to police, the gang members apparently tried to obtain special ringside seats, so they might appear on TV broadcasts to show themselves to imprisoned members of their group and affiliates.

Police believe Kenichi Shinoda, the boss of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate, is among those the gangsters apparently hoped to show off in front of the cameras for.

Kise asked that his wrestlers be able to join the Kitanoumi stable, which is the part of the same Dewanoumi sumo faction.

“First of all, sumo wrestlers have to be able to compete in the raised ring,” Kitanoumi said. “They can’t do that without the proper environment to do the job.”