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Stablemaster Takanohana tenders resignation to Japan Sumo Association

Stablemaster Takanohana serves as a ringside judge at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan hall in Tokyo's Sumida Ward on Sept. 9, 2018. (Mainichi/Masaru Nishimoto)

TOKYO -- Stablemaster Takanohana said he submitted a letter of resignation as a sumo elder to the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) on Sept. 25 after he was dissatisfied with the JSA's response to his complaint about the alleged assault of one of his disciples by another wrestler.

"It was a heart-breaking decision," former sumo grandmaster yokozuna Takanohana told a news conference in Tokyo on Sept. 25. "It's regrettable and sad, but I've chosen to place priority on ensuring my disciples show good performances in the ring."

Takanohana and his lawyer also presented a letter to the JSA asking for the transfer of all wrestlers, hair-dressers and other people belonging to his stable to another stable.

The stablemaster explained that he submitted a complaint to the Cabinet Office on March 9 this year over the JSA's handling of the incident but retracted it following wrongdoing by one of his disciples.

Takanohana said that the JSA concluded on Aug. 7 that his complaint was "without foundation."

The stablemaster said he was pressured to step down unless he admitted that his complaint was without basis. "I argued that my complaint isn't baseless, but I was repeatedly pressured to resign unless I admitted it was without foundation," he said.

Moreover, the JSA decided not to allow sumo elders to own a stable unless they belong to one of the five main stable groups.

"I was told to admit my complaint is baseless if I wanted to join one of these groups. I can't make such an admission by perverting the truth," he said.

Takanohana said he told his disciples for the first time about his decision to resign on the morning of Sept. 25.

"I think the wrestlers were spreading rumors about my decision, but I first told them about it this morning. Almost all of the wrestlers shed tears. I told them that I'll continue to watch over them from outside," he said.

Takanohana said he wants to continue to be involved in sumo even though he is no longer a coach.

"Over 30 years have passed since I started my career as a sumo wrestler at the age of 15," he said. "I was brought up in the sumo ring. So I want to continue to be involved in it."

Takanohana asked the public to help the wrestlers who will transfer to another stable. "I'd like you to continue to support my disciples," he said.

Takanohana clashed head-on with the JSA over the treatment of an alleged case in 2017 of violence against his stable's wrestler by another wrestler. Takanohana was later implicated in an assault case in March of this year in which one of his stable's wrestlers attacked a fellow member. He was then demoted by the association from a senior position to a rank-and-file member of the JSA's management board.

(Japanese original by the Mainichi Shimbun)

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