The Tokyo District Court said Monday that the Japan Sumo Association’s dismissal of former makuuchi division wrestler Sokokurai in 2011 was invalid because its match-fixing allegations left room for doubt.
The Chinese-born former maegashira, whose real name is Enhetubuxin, had demanded to be reinstated after the JSA sacked him in April 2011 for refusing to retire over his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal.
The sumo body argued that his dismissal was legitimate because it concluded that Sokokurai, 29, took part in a rigged bout versus Kasuganishiki at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in 2010, based on testimony from Kasuganishiki and lower-division wrestler Enatsukasa.
But the court said there is no guarantee the match was fixed because Kasuganishiki’s testimony was questionable and because Enatsukasa testified that he has no recollection of bringing the two wrestlers together.
Kasuganishiki, who had become stablemaster Takenawa by the time he was interviewed by the JSA, and Enatsukasa both retired in April 2011.
The JSA determined that Enatsukasa and Takenawa played a central role in the scandal. Sokokurai claimed their testimony couldn’t be trusted because it wasn’t solid.
After the court handed down its decision, the former maegashira said: “Let me return to the sumo ring.”
His lawyer Hatsuo Komatsu urged the JSA to reinstate him as soon as possible.
JSA chief Kitanoumi said the sumo body takes the ruling seriously and will verify the factors that led to it. The JSA will decide whether to appeal after consulting its lawyers, he added.
Former lower division juryo wrestler Hoshikaze, 29, who was sacked in 2011 together with Sokokurai over the match-fixing scandal, has appealed a high court ruling that backed his dismissal.
Hoshikaze, whose real name is Bold Amarmend, is from Mongolia.
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