November 29, 2017
Dazaifu, Fukuoka Pref.- Yokozuna sumo grand champion Harumafuji submitted a letter of retirement to the Japan Sumo Association on Wednesday to take responsibility for assaulting a junior wrestler.
The 33-year-old Mongolian yokozuna has told police and the association that he beat and injured Takanoiwa, another Mongolian wrestler, at a drinking party in the city of Tottori, western Japan, during a sumo tour in late October.
At a press conference in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, western Japan, on Wednesday, Harumafuji said, "I feel responsible as a yokozuna for injuring Takanoiwa and I'm retiring as of today."
"I'm truly sorry from the bottom of my heart for bringing inconvenience to the people who have supported me, and I did what a yokozuna should not have done," he said.
It is the first retirement of a yokozuna since Asashoryu, a Mongolian, was forced to finish his sumo career in February 2010 after assaulting an acquaintance.
Referring to his future, Harumafuji said, "I'll live in a manner that will not bring inconvenience to people, based on lessons learned from my stablemaster and his wife and from the way of sumo during my 17-year career."
Harumafuji hit Takanoiwa, allegedly angered by the lower-ranked wrestler's behavior, during the party that was also attended by Mongolian yokozunas Hakuho and Kakuryu.
At the press conference, Harumafuji said, "I scolded the junior wrestler for his sake, but eventually hurt him." "I'd never hurt anyone over drinks," he said.
At a meeting of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, an advisory body to the sumo association, on Monday, many members called for a harsh punishment against Harumafuji over the assault case.
Takanoiwa was absent for the Kyushu grand tournament in the southwestern city of Fukuoka earlier this month, citing injury. Harumafuji dropped out from the third day of the 15-day meet, after the assault case came to light, also citing injury.
Harumafuji made his debut as a professional sumo wrestler in 2001. He used the ring name Ama at the time. He changed name to Harumafuji when he was promoted to ozeki, the sport's second-highest rank, after the Kyushu grand tournament in 2008.
He was promoted to the rank of yokozuna after clinching a second consecutive undefeated title in the autumn tournament of 2012. He won his ninth and final title at this year's autumn tournament. Jiji Press
Mongolian-born yokozuna or grand champion sumo wrestler Harumafuji Kohei performs a ring-entering ceremony during the New Year's sumo dedication event at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan, 06 January 2017 (reissued 29 November 2017). According to media reports on 29 November 2017, grand champion Harumafuji has decided to retire from sumo wrestling following an assault on his compatriot Takanoiwa. Jiji Press
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