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Takanohana criticizes sumo wrestlers for tournament appearances following assault

Sumo stablemaster Takanohana (Mainichi)

Sumo stablemaster Takanohana, who was removed as a director of the Japan Sumo Association over his handling of an assault by former yokozuna Harumafuji, appeared in a TV Asahi program on Feb. 7 and criticized tournament appearances by other grapplers who were at the scene.

Takanoiwa, who trains under Takanohana, was assaulted in the incident at a bar in Tottori in October last year. Also at the scene were yokozuna Hakuho, who earned his 40th tournament victory in Kyushu in November 2017, fellow grand champion Kakuryu, and lower ranked wrestlers Terunofuji and Ishiura.

"It seems a violation of (Shinto) rituals for wrestlers to step onto the clay mound after being present at the scene of an assault," Takanohana said in the program.

Takanohana stood for re-election as a sumo association director following his demotion, but only received two of 101 votes in the Feb. 2 candidates' election. Alongside stablemaster Onomatsu, he was one of two wrestlers from the Takanohana group of sumo stables who ran in the election.

"Rather than wanting to go into the election, it was more a case that pulling out was not an option," he said. He indicated that the incident played a part in his decision to stand for election.

As for his demotion, Takanohana said that it was something he "personally" feels he shouldn't accept, and was not something to be permitted. He added that he would "fight in spirit."

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