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Sumo grand champion Harumafuji retires over assault

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The honorable way out, I guess.

Pity the magnificent sport's reputation took a bruising in all this.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

By midyear, there may be no yokozuna at all. Injuries and age are affecting the remaining three, neither of the two ozeki are really yokozuna material, and I don't see any up-and-coming candidates yet who can win consistently enough to ensure promotion. It will be a "sengoku jidai" free-for-all, awaiting the emergence of the next "shogun."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sad loss to the sport but he did not act like a yokozuna so retirement is the best thing to do for the sport , yes we do have good material come up the ranks but something has to be do about the injuries we had this year

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Hakuho isn't going to be happy about this. I hope he keeps his cool. Just keep winning bashos--put the record so far out of reach it will never be broken, which it might already be.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Sad loss to the sport but he did not act like a yokozuna

no, i think he totally acted like a yokozuna. he admitted to assualting a junior wrestler because the junior wrestler wasn't paying attention while he was talking. that really fits into the senpai-kohai relationship where the senpai can do whatever they like to the kohai. was this blown out of proportion? heck, yeah. takanohana has some grudge against the sumo hierarchy/mongolian wrestlers.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I will miss Harumafuji. He is a nice guy. But his records are declining in recent time due to age 33 and injuries. His retirement is not very far everybody thought. He did not intend to remain in sumo and did not acquire Japanese nationality. I think he saved enough money and will return to Mongol to begin his new life. Good luck!  Harumafuji.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Good luck Haru,I'll miss you!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A great shame. Betcha Takanoiwa will go, too.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

oh! that's really too bad. It seemed blown out of proportion and a gripe against him more than anything. A signal that the Sumo Kyokai isn't going to protect you, unless you're Japanese

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Was this whole thing a set-up to get rid of foreign yokozuna?

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Sad day for sumo. Now what's going to happen to both Kakuryu and Kisenosato? I sort of thought one or possibly both would retire after what's been a very poor 2017 season. Now that Harumafuji's gone JSA may want to reconsider their position and give them another chance.

Bottom line is sumo's been all about politics lately and that's not good for the sport. Unlike Kakuryu & Kisenosato, Harumafuji was a legit yokozuna.

By midyear, there may be no yokozuna at all. Injuries and age are affecting the remaining three,

Disagree. Now that Harumafuji's gone Hakuho's in a league of his own (already was tbh) and could win the next 10 bashos without breaking a sweat. Reckon he's got at least 2-3 years left at the top.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Guess he wondered if it was all really worth it? The jackals were circling. Step out, live long and prosper. Otsukaress!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Was this whole thing a set-up to get rid of foreign yokozuna?

Well that is the elephant in the room here. Look at the actors in this drama - Harumafuji's stable master, Takanoiwa's stable master, the head of the sumo association: they are all former yokozuna.

If the sumo association is run by former yokozuna then, as Mongolian's currently dominate, it stands to reason that the sumo association will be (would have been?) dominated by Monogolian-born wrestlers at some point in the future if "nothing is done".

It is amazing how this obvious angle never gets referred to.

Notwithstanding that omission, there was a remarkable section on Fuji TV this morning (a channel not known for highlighting of foreigners rights issues) saying how, when the wrestlers tour the country in the "off-season" Takanohana treats all the Mongolians with total disrespect, ignoring them when they greet him and leaving the ringside when the Mongolian yokozuna start their practice, even though he has already watched everyone else.

A story was even told about Takanohana instructing a bus driver to leave when Hakuho and his entourage were five minutes late - the speaker claimed to have seen this first hand but the other studio guests refused to believe it as it seems so outrageous.

This was all on Fuji TV's "Tokudane" at around 8 this morning.

Anyway, in a story that could easily be editorialized as "foreign wrestler is violent, foreigners are out of order", there was a surprising emphasis on the discrimination faced by the Mongolians and how much tension and stress they must be under as they try to make it in Japan. Of course, there was no discussion of how the tendency in Japan to constantly emphasize the difference betweenJapanese / not-Japanese in all situations and at all times can cause stress and feelings of alienation in the parties so excluded, but, for the Japanese media, it was pretty revolutionary stuff. Dave Spector was on the panel, so fair play to him if he had any influence on the discussion.

I've commented on before on how the deck is stacked against the Mongolians. The Monogolian guys learn Japanese and devote themselves to the culture. When they win, they have to stand under the Japanese flag and listen to the Japanese national anthem, which they do without complaint. When they retire, if they want to own a stable they have to give up their Mongolian nationality (which puts the in them impossible position of being forced to chose whether to continue in the sport they have dedicated themselves to or whether to dishonor their parents). They have already given up their Mongolian names.

Despite all this, when there were no Japanese Yokozuna, the media went on about the public 'longing' to see a Japanese yokozuna in the ring. It is natural to support your countrymen, but weren't the Mongolian Yokozuna indirectly being told that, despite their sacrifice, they were not really welcome?

None of this justifies violence. But then we also have the peculiar matter of how Takanoiwa's medical reports, as submitted by Takanohana when filing the police complaint, claimed Takanoiwa had a suspected fractured skull and leaking cerebrospinal fluid. Of course this made the police pay attention.

The thing is this: Takanoiwa was photographed smiling at training the following day and them making a courtesy visit to a local city hall in Fukuoka. This would seem difficult with a fractured skull. Maybe he was genuinely injured and it suddenly got worse. That said, despite the skull fracture, the report said he would heal in two weeks (and it was conveniently issued around two weeks after the event).

But remember the wrestler who died after a beating a few years ago? Although he was beaten black and blue, the first doctor to examine the body said he died of natural causes. So it is a matter of public record that there are doctors prepared to bend the truth when asked to do so by a stable master.

This an angle which the media also fail to discuss.

The true extent of Takanoiwa's injuries will probably never be known.

So first Asashoryu and now Harumafuji. Maybe they should just get it over with and ban foreign wrestlers, as perhaps some people would prefer?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The former "crown prince" of Sumo, heir of the Hanakago family dynasty, the nutty Takanohana, is a major agent provocateur in the scandal. Takanohana, who was once exceptionally given a prize in person by Prime Minister Koizumi, and who broke off his engagement to fashion model Rie Miyazawa, has lots of chips on his shoulder against the Sumo Association and the current parade of Mongolia-born champions.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

 heir of the Hanakago family dynasty, 

It's Hanada, not Hanakago.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

CrazyJoe, that is very true about the chips on his shoulder.  And let's not forget that he could not even get along with his own brother...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

jpn_guyToday 10:57 am JSTWas this whole thing a set-up to get rid of foreign yokozuna?

I've commented on before on how the deck is stacked against the Mongolians. The Monogolian guys learn Japanese and devote themselves to the culture. When they win, they have to stand under the Japanese flag and listen to the Japanese national anthem, which they do without complaint. When they retire, if they want to own a stable they have to give up their Mongolian nationality (which puts the in them impossible position of being forced to chose whether to continue in the sport they have dedicated themselves to or whether to dishonor their parents). They have already given up their Mongolian names.

Everything you describe above also includes the sumo wrestlers from Bulgaria, Georgia and many other countries whom people don't get to see on TV. And I find it hard to believe that changing your citizenship is "dishonoring your parents". People change citizenship predominantly for their careers all the time, and anyone coming to Japan to pursue sumo knows what they would have to do to remain after retiring.

Despite all this, when there were no Japanese Yokozuna, the media went on about the public 'longing' to see a Japanese yokozuna in the ring. It is natural to support your countrymen, but weren't the Mongolian Yokozuna indirectly being told that, despite their sacrifice, they were not really welcome?

Agree. It was/is obnoxious.

So first Asashoryu and now Harumafuji. Maybe they should just get it over with and ban foreign wrestlers, as perhaps some people would prefer?

Then how do you explain Hakuho? HIs popularity?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

He's better off back in his own country with his family, friends and own culture. Living in Japan long-term is hard on foreigners, this guy presumably has quite a bit of money from his sumo career and it will probably go much further in Mongolia than japan.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Hakuho is popular, and that helps him. He may not realize it, but he may also be walking on thin ice. There is muttering about his unkind habit of pushing opponents off the dohyo AFTER they have clearly lost. There was resentment when he spoke at length in Mongolian in a yusho interview a few tournaments back. There has been criticism of his yusho interview this time when he called for Harumafuji's reinstatement when Harumafuji had clearly behaved badly. There has been severe criticism of his bad decision to raise his hand to call for the judges after losing his bout on the 13th day. And his prompting a banzai for his 40th win was wrong. In Japanese culture you don't banzai yourself.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The thing is this: Takanoiwa was photographed smiling at training the following day and them making a courtesy visit to a local city hall in Fukuoka. 

I did not really catch all of the piece, but I saw what i thought was a news piece about the gash and stitches on Takanoiwa's head, I believe it was yesterday, did anyone else see this? There was a picture of his scalp.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Everything you describe above also includes the sumo wrestlers from Bulgaria, Georgia and many other countries whom people don't get to see on TV.

I would imagine they had it difficult too. They were not as successful as the Mongolians though. It has to be particularly hard for the top Mongolian wrestlers, who are so strong and dominant, to still have people still whine about them and their lack of hinkaku (which I will translate as dignify and grace as personified by a good Japanese), a set of ever moving criteria which they can never hope to satisfy.

How do you explain Hakuho? HIs popularity?

I agree that a number of people do love Hakuho and it is great. Quite a lot don't though, which, if you read Japanese, you can see for yourself in the way that he is slated in forums online all the time for all manner of infractions, both real and imagined.

Maybe I'm pushing it trying to generate sympathy for a man who has come to Japan and made millions from the Japanese public, but unfortunately he does not have anything like the sort of universal acclaim you would expect for his status as probably the best wrestler the sport has ever seen.

I can't spend time cutting and pasting quotes, but please go ahead and find any story on, for example, Yahoo! Japan, read the Japanese comments, and then come back and tell us if everyone loves Hakuho. I know the internet can bring out the worst in people so maybe it is not a representative sample, but the vitriol he gets is remarkable.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Droll Quarry

There was indeed a photo of his head. The cut looked very deep and nasty.

So I don't think it is in dispute that he was hit quite hard.

But there is a big difference between a horrible looking cut and a fractured skull / leaking cerebrospinal fluid.

Even with the cut, it is unacceptable and violent, but it is additional potentially life-threatening injuries listed on the medical form that have people questioning Takanohana's motives.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you listen to the sumo elders who take turns doing the colour commentary on NHK during the basho, you really get a sense of the antipathy and deep-seated racism (lets call it what it is) against foreigners, particularly the successful ones. Nothing is ever good enough, and the constant potshots, undermining against the likes of Hakuho are maddening to listen to. The sense of hand-wringing and despair about the lack of Japanese success, particularly during the stretch of almost ten years when not one Japanese rikishi even won a yusho, often bordered on the comedic if it were not clear that they were serious.

The elders did what they could to purge the sumo world of gaijin's, and you can see this most clearly manifested in the winners list of the lower divisions. 5-10 years ago it was dominated by foreigners who were coming up the ranks, now there is barely a foreign name in there. This is due to severe restrictions placed on the number of foreigners.

Purging at the higher ranks has been more subversive and subtle, and Asashoryu was their first major scalp. Forget that his bouts against Hakuho provided some of sumo's most exciting moments ever ... no, for them, it was more important to get rid of the successful (and non-compliant) gaijin at the top. Hakuho was tolerated more due to his easy-going personality, but as others have mentioned above, the constant tsubuyaki, disparaging undermining comments continue to be broadcasted daily by the elders doing their colour commentary on NHK.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@Mizuame

Hakuho is popular, and that helps him. He may not realize it, but he may also be walking on thin ice.  There is muttering about his unkind habit of pushing opponents off the dohyo AFTER they have clearly lost. There was resentment when he spoke at length in Mongolian in a yusho interview a few tournaments back.... There has been severe criticism of his bad decision to raise his hand to call for the judges after losing his bout on the 13th day

This is what I am talking about: the most dominant, skillful, powerful wrestler the sport has ever seen and does he get respect? No, he gets sniping, constantly about this, that and the other.

I disagree that he does not realize he is on thin ice though. I think he knows it all too well and is fed up with it.

In the bout on Day 14, when he needed a win to take the tourney, did you notice how he led with his elbow/upper arm (kachiage), a technique he has been criticized for using in the past, even though it is within the rules written by the Sumo Association themselves?

I took that as a big "screw you all". Maybe that's just me.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

At the Kyushu Basho tournament, 9 makuuchi division wrestlers were absent from injuries and many who wrestled wore bandages and supporters. It spoils the matches very much. In today's sumo, wrestlers are all big and heavy. I think the association should think widening the ring and the ring should be set lower than today. It looks it is about one meter high from the ground. Many wrestlers get hurt when they fall down from the ring to the ground fiercely.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think Hakuho's popularity came with his "hinkaku" being better than Asashoryu. Then of course his skill and continuous victories. There is definitely some sniping about a few things he does; that harite followed by a kachiage routine. He's literally knocked out Myougiryu and Ikioi with that elbow. One of them the elbow was so high and from the side that I'd call it a "hijiuchi" rather than kachiage. And he does sometimes add one unnecessary shove off the dohyou to an already defeated opponent. And his protest to the gyouji this time around on a call. So the sniping at Hakuho from what I can see is earned. Anycase, I'm sad to see Harumafuji go, he was a lot of fun to watch.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Is there any possibility the stable master, et all, will join him in retirement because of the failure to instill discipline, morals and morale?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My only hope is that powers that be judge the next scandal, regardless of which nationality is involved, with the same standards that they used when taking down Harumafuji. If not, the sumo ruling federation is nothing but a sham. Precedent has been set...or am I delusional?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Anycase, I'm sad to see Harumafuji go, he was a lot of fun to watch.

Not as much fun as when he was a "skinny" maegashira. I used to love watching little Ama dancing around the Dohyo, using speed and strategy instead of weight and momentum.

Purging at the higher ranks has been more subversive and subtle, and Asashoryu was their first major scalp. Forget that his bouts against Hakuho provided some of sumo's most exciting moments ever ... no, for them, it was more important to get rid of the successful (and non-compliant) gaijin at the top.

Asashoryu was an arrogant jackass. I was not surprised when he was forced out, nor was I sad to see him go.

Those bouts with he and Hakuho were indeed entertaining. But, a lot of it was in an almost pro-wrestling type of "good guy vs bad guy" way.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@no1samurai.. other way round, this is not sumo's first scandal, so it already differs from other scandals in treating the yokozuna. Too bad that doctor a way back that ruled that guy who was killed of natural causes if that makes any sense wasn't around this time to PR the head wound too. Also the overboard media barrage was another clue. It's all subtext to the decision that was made. He made it easy for them to do it mind you, but that's how it went down. He needed someone on his side and didn't have it.

Hakuho never had it so good. Personally I don't like his sumo when he's being a goof, but other bouts he earns well enough. His career is sure to last even longer without high level competition, iff he isn't also whispered out or messes up.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why is he the "fall guy" for sumo? The Japanese government needs to look into fixing of bouts again, the finances, gambling, and anything else that has happened in sumo.

He leaves after having withdrawn. If sumo is not fixed, then he should not retire. He has fallen on the sword for a sport he loves. Everyone in the background is probably counting their blessings.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Readers, match-fixing is not relevant to this story.

A 33-year old man takes it upon himself to teach manners to a 27-year old man.....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"I did it for his sake. I wanted to teach him courtesy and civility. I scolded him out of my obligation as a senior wrestler but I hurt him and the sumo association, the fans and my support group," he said.

But it hurt Takanoiwa the most- I dare say he can't bear to look at rimokons now....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

big deal about a tiny thing.. whats the big deal

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Retires? Did any of the sumo cheaters "retire"... complete BS

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sad so so Sad

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The second a foreigner or even a mixed blood does anything wrong here, you can count on alot of people being ready to jump on a bandwagon against you and make it about your face, race, or blood instead of what was done.

I guarantee you a Japanese Yokozuna would not be treated the same way.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I don't think he needed to have retired. Assault, although serious, is hardly a hanging offence. He has sincerely apologised.

I would agree with some comments posted above, that had he been Japaneses he would not have been treated in the same way.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I hope the justice system will pursuit the assault case. Violence in the sumo stablemasters is quite existent but often unheard.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

thepersoniamnowToday 08:10 pm JST

The second a foreigner or even a mixed blood does anything wrong here, you can count on alot of people being ready to jump on a bandwagon against you and make it about your face, race, or blood instead of what was done.

I guarantee you a Japanese Yokozuna would not be treated the same way.

Maybe, but I don't think anyone can "guarantee" that. Also might depend on whether that one Japanese yokozuna was just one of 3 or 4 Japanese yokozunas at the time.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I always watch the Sumo Tournament and is a pity that Harumafuji will not be anymore. However, it is his decision. On the other side, this should be investigated and an official statement should be published.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I hope that he is given a chance to redeem himself.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If you listen to the sumo elders who take turns doing the colour commentary on NHK during the basho, you really get a sense of the antipathy and deep-seated racism (lets call it what it is) against foreigners, particularly the successful ones. 

Not only from the sporting side but regular commentators even on the bit of news I caught were giving him a break on the banzai shout which was unacceptable for a Japanese but understandable for Hakuho because he was a foreigner. It is inevitable and maybe positive that someone is going to come right out and say it, the newspaper stories only implied discrimination, but still shocking to hear it so directly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

 In Japanese culture you don't banzai yourself. no he was just standing up for himself, I hope it clears the way for Hakuho to go on and win another 10+ tournaments before he retires, hell put the record out of reach for good.. The Sumo hall of fame will show the two greatest Sumo of all time were both gaijin, Hakuho Mongolian , Taiho half Ukrainian.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@thepersoniamnow

You make a valid point. Isn't it true that foreigners in Japan, especially those settled here,have to abide by an unwritten code of conduct which is largely self imposed? For the simple reason, we are under scrutiny by just being different.

Harumafuji must also be aware of this and if there were so many out to get him,then assaulting someone in public wasn't the way to go!

In fact, I am sure that any ordinary foreigner would suffer a long spell in a koban,locked up!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Retires? Did any of the sumo cheaters "retire"... complete BS

Sure. And I suspect that it's pretty common for drunken sumo wrestlers to thump each other in bars. Days later everyone had forgotten about the scuffle and the tournament had proceeded as usual. But exceptionally, Takanohana then went to the police with an exaggerated story...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wanted to teach him courtesy and civility.

epic fail then.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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