Japan sumo champion Harumafuji fined over assault


Harumafuji at a news conference

Former sumo grand champion Harumafuji has been fined 500,000 yen (£3,280; $4,400) in Japan after being found guilty of assault.

The 33-year-old wrestler from Mongolia admitted hitting a junior wrestler over the head with a karaoke machine remote control during a night out in Tottori in October.

He has already apologised and stepped down over the incident.

The case rocked the world of sumo, a hugely popular ceremonial sport.

The assault on fellow Mongolian Takanoiwa happened while they were out drinking with other wrestlers in a bar in the western city.

The grand champion is reported to have been angered that his countryman was checking his phone while being given advice, seeing it as showing a lack of respect.

The latter was admitted to hospital with concussion and a fractured skull.

Two others involved in the incident have faced disciplinary action and Takanoiwa’s stablemaster – as coaches are known – has been demoted for allegedly delaying reporting the incident.

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  • Mongolian girl grappling with sumo world

Harumafuji started his career in Japan at the age of 16 and was promoted to grand champion or yokozuna – sumo’s highest rank – in 2012.

He released a statement in late December, Reuters news agency reports, saying his life “is now set to be sharply different from what I thought it would be”.

“I have a feeling of chagrin, to be honest. But the responsibility is all mine.”

What is sumo?

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  • Japan’s much-loved traditional sport dates back hundreds of years
  • Two wrestlers face off in an elevated circular ring and try to push each other to the ground or out of the ring
  • There are six tournaments each year in which each wrestler fights 15 bouts
  • Wrestlers, who traditionally go by one fighting name, are ranked and the ultimate goal is to become a yokozuna (grand champion)

How does sumo wrestling work?

What other scandals clouded the sport recently?

  • Last year, a wrestler and his coach had to pay nearly $300,000 to a fellow fighter whom they had allegedly abused so badly he lost sight in one eye, according to reports
  • Several wrestlers have been implicated in match-fixing scandals and links between sumo and the mafia-like yakuza crime syndicates
  • Another Mongolian grand champion retired from the sport in 2010 after reports of his involvement in a drunken brawl
  • In 2007 a sumo stablemaster received six years in prison after a novice was beaten to death by older wrestlers

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