Yokozuna Hakuho, who has gone unbeaten thus far in the ongoing Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, has been given a proverbial red card for behavior not merely unbecoming of a yokozuna but also plain dangerous.
In a match between Hakuho and lower-ranking komusubi Kaisei on May 12, the fifth day of the 15-day Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan arena in Tokyo, Hakuho sent his opponent tumbling down the mound on which the ring sits, after the higher-ranking wrestler had already pushed him outside the ring and won.
At the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in March this year, a stablemaster who was sitting below the mound sustained serious injuries after the opponent whom Hakuho had pushed -- also after the latter had already won -- fell on the elder. On May 11, the fourth day of the current tournament, Hakuho again pushed an opponent after he had already scored a victory, to which chief referee Nishonoseki (former ozeki Wakashimazu) expressed his disapproval. The Yokozuna Deliberation Council, which observed the matches on May 12, demanded that Hakuho exercise more self-restraint.
Following the match on May 12, Hakuho did not appear affected by the rebukes, saying, "Whether I push my opponent or I pull back, I'm still wrestling well." However, Hideshige Moriya, head of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council and professor emeritus at Chiba University, said, "Hakuho did slightly push his opponent. We need him to realize that what he's doing could cause injuries to enthusiastic spectators."
Hakuho will enter his 10th year as yokozuna with the Nagoya tournament set to take place in July. "When one reaches the status of yokozuna, everyone fawns over him," Moriya said, suggesting Hakuho was being arrogant. "It is only human to have mistaken thoughts about one's actions when that happens."
In the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, Hakuho pushed Yoshikaze down the mound after he'd already won, making the latter fall on sumo elder and referee Izutsu (former sekiwake Sakahoko). Izutsu suffered a broken thigh in the incident, and Hakuho was reprimanded for his actions.
Referring to Hakuho's repeated shoves toward opponents he has already won against, Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku (former yokozuna Hokutoumi) was wary, saying, "If we talk about it, it'll just be splashed across the papers again."