Asashoryu’s driver rebuts assault report

Kyodo News

The head of a Japan Sumo Association panel investigating Asashoryu’s alleged drunken rampage said the grand champion’s driver has denied a recent magazine report that the Mongolian broke a man’s nose and caused him other injuries in the early hours of Jan. 16.

“The driver did not see Asashoryu slug the man. He said it was nothing like what was reported,” Tomozuna, the head of the panel, said Tuesday after questioning the driver.

The weekly magazine Friday reported two weeks ago that Asashoryu had been “wrecked” and slugged an acquaintance, originally believed to have been his manager, outside a nightclub in Tokyo’s Nishi-Azabu district.

Another magazine, Shukan Shincho, also reported that the man attacked in the incident was actually in charge of a dance club where the yokozuna had been drinking.

Shukan Shincho said Asashoryu told the driver to move the car to a river for further assaults on the man.

But the driver denied such allegations, while admitting the two men were intoxicated and scuffling, according to Tomozuna.

The committee chief added that what he heard from the driver and a report submitted by Asashoryu’s stable master, Takasago, are not contradictory.

Asashoryu and the man have reached an amicable settlement, JSA Chairman Musashigawa said earlier.

Police confirmed Wednesday that a letter of settlement has been submitted to the Azabu police station, in which the man said he will not file a criminal complaint against Asashoryu.

According to the police, the man says in the letter that he “forgives” the grand champion, but does not refer to specific acts of violence or whether any violence took place.

Meanwhile, the sumo association postponed its plans to discuss possible punishment for Asashoryu on Thursday.

Tomozuna said the investigative committee will provide only an interim report Thursday.