National

Hakuho denies Harumafuji hit fellow wrestler Takanoiwa with beer bottle

JIJI, Kyodo

Yokozuna sumo grand champion Hakuho on Thursday denied allegations that Harumafuji, also a yokozuna, used a beer bottle in assaulting junior wrestler Takanoiwa while drinking last month.

“Harumafuji didn’t use a beer bottle or get on top of (Takanoiwa)” to beat him, Hakuho told reporters while admitting that Harumafuji hit Takanoiwa with his bare hand.

Harumafuji was holding a beer bottle but it apparently slipped from his hand, Hakuho explained reporters at the Fukuoka Convention Center in the city of Fukuoka, where the 15-day Kyushu grand sumo tournament is being held. Some other people related to this matter have said Harumafuji hit Takanoiwa with a beer bottle.

Hakuho said he stopped Harumafuji when the rival yokozuna assaulted Takanoiwa.

“I took him (Harumafuji) out,” Hakuho said, adding that he let Takanoiwa leave the drinking venue before them.

In a sumo tour event in the city of Tottori on Oct. 26, after the incident, Harumafuji and Takanoiwa shook hands, and the junior wrestler engaged in his sumo bouts normally, according to Hakuho.

Hakuho said he will “say the same things” if he is questioned by the Japan Sumo Association or the Tottori Prefectural Police, who accepted a victim report from the Takanoiwa side.

The incident happened when sumo wrestlers from Mongolia, including Harumafuji, 33, Hakuho, 32, and Takanoiwa, 27, were drinking in the city of Tottori in late October while professional sumo wrestlers were on a local tour.

Stable master Takanohana, who coaches Takanoiwa and serves as head for local sumo tours at the association, has reported to the sumo governing body that Harumafuji hit the younger wrestler with a beer bottle. Takanoiwa belongs to the Takanohana stable, and Harumafuji is a wrestler from the Isegahama stable.

Takanoiwa was diagnosed with a skull base fracture and other injuries requiring two weeks to heal.

On Thursday, Hakkaku, chief of the sumo association, gave an explanation about the high-profile incident to senior association officials who are not members of its executive board.

Action the sumo association plans to take against Harumafuji is expected to be decided by the executive board after the police investigation and a probe by the sumo body’s crisis management committee.