Mongolian sumo champion under investigation for beer bottle assault on fellow wrestler

Ruben Hill
November 14, 2017

November 14 (Jiji Press)-Yokozuna sumo grand champion Harumafuji has assaulted a junior wrestler, it was learned Tuesday.

Harumafuji pulled out of the third day of the Grand Sumo tournament in Fukuoka today.

"As for Takanoiwa's injuries, I apologise deeply for causing trouble for stable master Takanohana, people affiliated with Takanohana stable, the Sumo Association and my stable master", he told reporters.

For years, non-Japanese wrestlers were prohibited from obtaining the rank of yokozuna, the highest title in sumo, until 1993.

Japanese media reported that Harumafuji hit his fellow Mongolian wrestler Takanoiwa in the head with a bottle at a party last month, fracturing his skull base and causing other injuries.

Weighing in at 137kg (300lb), Harumafuji is considered a relatively small sumo wrestler, and is lauded for his technique in the ring.

"I sincerely apologise for causing trouble", Harumafuji told reporters in Fukuoka, a southern Japanese city where the Kyushu Grand Sumo tournament is now being held.

Tales of extreme physical abuse are becoming more common in sumo - Japan's national sport - which is characterised by harsh training and strict hierarchy.

Sumo association officials told AFP news agency that exactly what happened remains unconfirmed.

A stable master who struck the teen with a beer bottle was sentenced to five years in jail for negligence resulting in death.

The grand champion apologised publicly but did not confirm the circumstances of the incident.

Back in 2010, the sport was rocked by alleged links between sumo wrestlers and yakuza crime syndicates.

Currently, the majority of yokozuna hail from Mongolia and Eastern Europe.

But he too fanned the flames of a row over sumo etiquette in 2015 when he was annoyed at being ordered to repeat a bout deemed too close to call, letting rip at the decision.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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