Regarding the June 4 AP article “Ozeki Kaio says harsh treatment is integral“: I am an avid fan of sumo and have been watching the televised bashos for almost 10 years now, five of them while in Japan. I have great liking and respect for sumo veteran Kaio, basically because of the way he conducts himself during a match. He seems very calm and cheerful and uses straightforward techniques. He never resorts to tactics that, while perhaps considered technically correct, do not appear to be in the true spirit of sumo wrestling, such as slapping or sidestepping at the beginning of a bout.
Yet, I cannot fully agree with Kaio’s comment (that hazing, in acceptable quantities, is a part of the sport). The fatal treatment meted out to a 17-year-old wrestler during training in June 2007 cannot be considered anything approaching normal! Making a wrestler tough is, of course, in the interest of the wrestler himself, but in this case the other wrestlers — who acted reportedly at the behest of the trainer — most certainly overstepped the line. It is difficult to believe that making the unfortunate victim tough was the only objective.
In my opinion, the punishment (six-year prison sentence) given to the trainer for his role in causing somebody’s death, mind you, is not “reasonable” at all! Of course, the judges go by the rules of the land and I’m not competent to give an opinion on that.
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