Sumo

Takanofuji calls punishment for out-of-ring violence 'too heavy'

Kyodo

Second-tier juryo division wrestler Takanofuji, who is facing disciplinary action for hitting a lower-ranked wrestler in the forehead, said Friday after issuing an apology that he is not ready to end his career.

“This penalty is too heavy and I can’t accept it,” said Takanofuji, who was urged by the Japan Sumo Association in a board meeting on Thursday to voluntarily retire following his second assault case. His stablemaster Chiganoura has also asked him to voluntarily retire but he has refused.

“All I have is sumo. I want to learn from my mistakes, get back in the ring and dedicate my life to sumo,” he said.

The 22-year-old Takanofuji, whose real name is Tsuyoshi Kamiyama, was accompanied by a lawyer at the news conference.

According to the JSA, on Aug. 31, Takanofuji struck his attendant and jonidan wrestler once because he bathed before him and was displeased with his attitude. The victim got a lump on his head and the pain lasted for a few days, the JSA said.

Takanofuji’s stablemaster reported the incident to the association and suspended the wrestler for the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament, which ended on Sunday.

Though Takanofuji admitted to the facts, he said he “did not hit him hard” and “lacked awareness” that hitting him lightly on the head with his fist was a serious form of wrongdoing. He was also known to berate junior wrestlers with discriminatory remarks when they did not do their job well.

It was the second assault case for the Chiganoura stable wrestler, who was involved in a similar incident during the 2018 Spring Basho.

At the time, he belonged to a stable run by former yokozuna Takanohana, who has since retired. After transferring to the Chiganoura stable, he submitted an oath to his stablemaster not to commit any more acts of violence.

Takanofuji has filed a written request to the JSA asking for a lighter punishment and sent a petition to the Japan Sports Agency calling for improved governance in the sport.

The incident involving Takanofuji is the latest in a series of sumo scandals involving violence.

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