Sumo

Takanoiwa retires following recent assault on stablemate

Kyodo

Mongolian rank-and-file wrestler Takanoiwa on Friday submitted his resignation to sumo’s governing body for assaulting a younger wrestler in the latest scandal to tarnish the image of the sport.

The Japan Sumo Association accepted the resignation from Takanoiwa, 28, who himself was a victim of an assault last year that led to the resignation of yokozuna Harumafuji.

Takanoiwa struck the lower-ranked wrestler of his Chiganoura stable at a hotel in Fukuoka during the ongoing regional tour Tuesday night, according to the JSA.

The younger wrestler did not suffer a major injury but has swelling on his face after being hit four or five times with an open hand and fist for having forgotten an item, the JSA said.

At a news conference to announce his resignation, Takanoiwa said he was “truly sorry” for the incident.

“By raising my hand to my younger stablemate, I have caused anguish. I will reflect on this and take responsibility by retiring from sumo as of today,” Takanoiwa said.

JSA director Shibatayama reiterated Friday that the association was continuing to address violence outside the ring.

“The association has been working for a long time on a solution to the problem of violence,” Shibatayama said. “It is important to respond promptly and to make sure it does not happen again.”

Takanoiwa has withdrawn from the winter regional tour in Fukuoka and has been questioned by the person in charge of crisis management at the JSA. He has apologized for the incident.

Takanoiwa made his sumo debut in January 2009 as a member of the stable of former yokozuna Takanohana, and gained promotion to the top makuuchi division in 2014.

This is the latest in a spate of scandals that have tarnished the sumo world.

The JSA issued a “declaration to eradicate violence” at the end of October in response to several such cases.

Takanoiwa, whose real name is Adiyagiin Baasandorj, was beaten with a karaoke machine remote control in a lounge bar by fellow Mongolian Harumafuji on Oct. 26, 2017, which led to the yokozuna’s retirement the following month.

He was hospitalized with head injuries that required 12 days to heal and forced to sit out two grand tournaments before returning to competition in March.

In March, Takanohana submitted a letter to the Cabinet Office’s public certification committee that accused the JSA of improper behavior over its handling of the Takanoiwa assault scandal.

The 46-year-old said he is leaving the sumo world after being pressured to admit that the accusation was groundless.

The JSA decided after the incident not to demote Takanoiwa to the lower makushita division, considering he was the victim of the assault.

The incident also prompted Takanohana to quit the JSA, which led to Takanoiwa and his stablemates transferring to the Chiganoura stable in October.

In November, Takanoiwa dropped a damages suit filed against Harumafuji, saying his family in Mongolia had been subject to abuse over the legal action from their compatriots who hold Harumafuji in high regard.