TOTTORI – The sumo assault case of former yokozuna Harumafuji was handed to prosecutors on Monday as the Japan Sumo Association continued its own investigation of the October incident in the city of Tottori.
Harumafuji, 33, resigned on Nov. 20, ending his 17-year-long career in the traditional sport just weeks after the scandal broke. The Japan Sumo Association is expected to receive the final report of its crisis management panel on Dec. 20.
According to investigative sources, the former champ allegedly beat fellow junior wrestler Takanoiwa with his bare hands and a karaoke machine remote control while drinking at a bar in the city on the night of Oct. 25 while the wrestlers were on a regional tour. Both wrestlers are Mongolian.
Takanoiwa, 27, suffered head wounds that required about 10 days to heal and filed a police report on Oct. 29. During a visit to a hospital in Fukuoka, he was diagnosed with a suspected skull fracture, among other injuries.
Harumafuji admitted to the assault during a voluntary police interrogation, according to the sources. On Monday, his lawyers released a statement on behalf of the former champion, offering “heartfelt apologies to Takanoiwa and others.”
The lawyers also said they would request a meeting with Takanoiwa and his stablemaster, Takanohana, to apologize and to discuss compensation.
According to investigative sources, Harumafuji is believed to have gotten angry at Takanoiwa when fellow Mongolian and yokozuna Hakuho was giving him advice.
At his retirement news conference, Harumafuji said was trying to fulfill his outside-the-ring duty to teach fellow Mongolian wrestlers proper manners but ended up “hurting” Takanoiwa instead.
According to a Japan Sumo Association investigation, the beating took place shortly after Hakuho told Takanoiwa not to forget the kindness he received during his high school days. Takanoiwa, who was distracted by his smartphone at the time, looked up and replied, “It’s an email from my girlfriend.”
Harumafuji’s retirement was largely seen as inevitable for failing to live up to the code of dignity that yokozuna are required to follow. But sumo fans in Japan, as well as people who knew the wrestler well, said they were disappoint by his early exit from the ancient Japanese sport.
After making his professional debut in 2001 under the ring name Ama, Harumafuji, whose real name is Davaanyam Byambadorj, was promoted to yokozuna in 2012 and won nine titles.
The scandal dealt another blow to the sumo world, which was already tainted by cases of match-fixing, violence and bullying.
In 2010, then-yokozuna Asashoryu, another Mongolian, was accused of seriously injuring a male acquaintance during a drunken rampage. He, too, retired soon afterward.