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Sumo Yokozuna Hakuho punished over impromptu cheer following tournament win

Hakuho leads a "sanbon-jime" clapping cheer following an interview at Edion Arena Osaka on March 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Tadashi Kako)

TOKYO -- Sumo Yokozuna Hakuho was handed a reprimand on April 24 for leading an impromptu cheer at the March Grand Sumo Tournament following his 42nd tournament win, which was deemed inappropriate in light of his standing.

The Japan Sumo Association's board of directors dealt Hakuho the reprimand -- the lightest of its punishments -- in an ad-hoc board meeting in Tokyo the same day. Hakuho's stablemaster, sumo elder Miyagino, was handed a heavier punishment of a 10 percent pay cut for three months in light of his role as the yokozuna's supervisor.

Hakuho enters a Japan Sumo Association meeting venue in Tokyo's Chuo Ward on the afternoon of April 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Taro Iiyama)

At the end of an interview following his tournament win on March 24, Hakuho led a "sanbon-jime" clapping cheer with the audience as a wish for development of sumo and everyone's health, noting that Japan would soon see the end of the current Heisei era.

The Yokozuna Deliberation Council took issue with this, and in a news conference the following day council head Hironori Yano stated that such clapping was not supposed to take place until everything had finished, and questioned whether a wrestler should have been involved.

On March 28, the sumo association judged at a regular board meeting that it was possible Hakuho had violated internal rules against a lack of manners or etiquette in the ring and damaged the tradition and discipline of sumo. A compliance committee had held hearings with people including Hakuho, and submitted an opinion to the sumo association board following the incident.

(Japanese original by Taro Iiyama, Sports News Department)

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