Itai testifies his sumo bout with Kitanoumi was fixed

Kyodo News

Former top-division sumo wrestler Keisuke Itai said Thursday in the Tokyo District Court that he fought a fixed match in the 1984 Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament against former Japan Sumo Association Chairman Kitanoumi, who was still wrestling at the time.

Appearing as a witness in a defamation trial pitting the JSA and Kitanoumi against the weekly magazine Shukan Gendai over allegations of bout-fixing, Itai said he offered through an intermediary to lose the match for ¥500,000.

Itai took the stand after a video of a Kitanoumi match referred to in the Shukan Gendai article written by Yorimasa Takeda was shown to the court.

Takeda, one of the defendants in the defamation suit, also testified.

Kitanoumi, who is seeking about ¥110 million in damages and a published apology over the article that appeared in the March 10, 2007, edition of Shukan Gendai, also took the stand and flatly denied fixing bouts.

The suit against Shukan Gendai publisher Kodansha Ltd. and others claims the article was erroneous in saying the championship match on the final day of the 1975 Spring Grand Sumo Tournament between Kitanoumi and Takanohana was fixed. Takanohana won the match.

The case is among three defamation suits filed by the JSA and wrestlers against Kodansha and its editors and writers over allegations of match-fixing.

Itai retired from competitive sumo in 1991 and has since accused the sumo world of bout-fixing through articles in Shukan Gendai, mentioning wrestlers involved by name.