Ancient Japanese sport rocked by behaviour of star athlete Harumafuji, who attacked fellow wrestler during drinking session
Japan’s ancient sport of sumo is again fighting to salvage its reputation after a top-ranking wrestler seriously injured a fellow competitor in an alcohol-fuelled attack.
Harumafuji, one of four reigning grand champions, or yokozuna, has admitted assaulting Takanoiwa, a more junior wrestler, at a party last month, in the latest scandal to hit Japan’s national sport.
Police have launched an investigation into the Mongolian following a complaint from his 27-year-old alleged victim. Speculation is mounting that Harumafuji will be forced to resign in disgrace.
Media reports said the 33-year-old had been drinking with several other Mongolian wrestlers during a regional tour in western Japan when he allegedly struck Takanoiwa over the head with a beer bottle as punishment for his “poor attitude”.
When Takanoiwa then attempted to answer his mobile phone while Harumafuji was berating him, the yokozuna punched him as many as 30 times, leaving him with concussion, a fracture to the base of the skull and other injuries, according to Kyodo news.
He spent five days in hospital and was unable to compete in a tournament in Fukuoka, south-western Japan, which began on Sunday. Harumafuji, who was bidding for his 10th title, withdrew on the third day after the assault became public.