National

Takanohana to cooperate with sumo association’s probe into Harumafuji assault case

Kyodo

Takanohana intends to break his silence and cooperate with an investigation into the assault of a wrestler that cost Mongolian grand champion Harumafuji his career, the Japan Sumo Association said Thursday.

But Takanohana, a former yokozuna on the JSA executive board, will only speak to the association’s crisis management team once police have finished their investigation of the incident, which occurred last month during a regional tour in Tottori Prefecture.

A day after Harumafuji admitted to the assault and announced his retirement, Takanohana was called to Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan for Thursday’s association board meeting.

After Harumafuji struck Takanoiwa during a late October night out in the city of Tottori, Takanohana filed a report with the local police. Since then, he has refused to cooperate with the JSA investigation. Takanohana, the sumo association leader of that tour, filed the police report without notifying the JSA.

On Dec. 20, the crisis management team will issue a final report on the investigation at a meeting with the Yokozuna Deliberation Council and the JSA board, even though it has not yet finished questioning Takanoiwa.

The punishment for Takanohana and Isegahama, who was Harumafuji’s stablemaster, will also be discussed at the meeting.

Meanwhile, grand champion Hakuho and his stablemaster Miyagino were severely reprimanded Thursday by the JSA over Hakuho’s conduct following his 40th career championship win at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, which ended Sunday.

Hakuho, who was present when the altercation occurred, stirred controversy by telling spectators during a championship interview that he wanted Harumafuji and Takanoiwa to return to the ring and called for a banzai cheer from the crowd, to which the spectators duly responded with three cheers.

The injured Takanoiwa did not take part in the tournament while Harumafuji withdrew on the third day after the assault allegations first surfaced in the media.

It was initially reported that Harumafuji hit Takanoiwa with a beer bottle, but the crisis management team now says he hit Takanoiwa with his palms, fists and a karaoke machine remote control.

The team said Harumafuji had picked up a champagne bottle but did not use it to attack Takanoiwa as he lost his grip while swinging it.

Harumafuji had apparently been angered by Takanoiwa attempting to use his smartphone while being scolded for his behavior by Hakuho.