September 26, 2018
Tokyo- Sumo stablemaster and former popular "yokozuna" grand champion Takanohana submitted his resignation to the Japan Sumo Association on Tuesday, citing pressure on him to deny his claims against the association.
"I took a difficult decision to retire as a 'toshiyori' (stablemaster) because this is the best choice," Takanohana, 46, whose real name is Koji Hanada, told a press conference.
In March this year, Takanohana submitted a letter of complaint to the Cabinet Office over the association's handling of a case of assault last autumn by then yokozuna Harumafuji against Takanoiwa, a wrestler of his stable.
Takanohana later retracted the complaint. Harumafuji retired from the professional sumo world last November over the high-profile scandal.
In July this year, the association's board decided that all stablemasters must belong to any of the five existing "ichimon" factions. Takanohana had led a faction, but left it earlier this year, in the wake of the violence case and other incidents.
According to Takanohana at the press conference, he was ordered to admit that his claims submitted to the government agency in March were not true if he hoped to join any of the five factions.
"I couldn't admit the complaint was groundless," Takanohana said. But he also knew that as long as he sticks to his guns, his stable wrestlers would be left in limbo, unable to focus on training.
Following his resignation, his stable wrestlers are set to be admitted to another stable, he said.
"It was gut-wrenching, but I put the future of my stable wrestlers first," he said.
Takanohana, dubbed a great yokozuna of the Heisei era in Japan, marked 22 grand tournament victories in the makuuchi top division of professional sumo, ranking sixth on the victory list.
After retiring from the sumo ring in 2003, he was first elected to the association's board when he was 37, in 2010. Together with stablemasters who backed him in the board election, Takanohana launched his own group, which developed into his ichimon in 2014. Jiji Press
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