Sport

Yokozuna Harumafuji suspected of assaulting wrestler

A sumo wrestling grand champion is alleged to have hit a fellow wrestler over the head with a beer bottle in a fresh scandal that has rocked the highly ceremonial sport.

The 33-year-old Harumafuji hit his countryman Takanoiwa, 27, last month when Mongolian wrestlers gathered over drinks after the autumn tournament, several media reported.

Japanese sumo officials are investigating allegations Tuesday that nine-time grand champion Harumafuji assaulted a lower-ranked wrestler, causing serious head injuries.

Japanese media report the incident occurred during a drinking session.

It happened at a party of sumo wrestlers from Mongolia. However, it's known that the incident has already been reported to police.

But he deflected further questions to the "stable master" who runs the camp.

Another Mongolian grand champion Hakuho, seen as a gentle giant, has nearly single-handedly restored the sport's good name.

Takanoiwa, who belongs to the Takanohana stable and has been absent from the tournament since Day 1, submitted to the Japan Sumo Association a doctor's report confirming his injuries, including a skull base fracture that requires two weeks for a complete recovery.

Harumafuji is viewed as having a skillful technique that allows him to offset a relatively small body weight - at a mere 137 kilogrammes, he is one of the lightest in the sport's top division.

Wrestlers are expected to not show emotion after a victory and a rigid hierarchy exists.

In June 2007, a stable master and his three wrestlers were convicted over a bullying-death of a 17-year-old junior wrestler.

In 2016, a stable master and wrestler were made to pay almost $300,000 (£230,000) to a wrestler allegedly abused so badly that he lost sight in one eye, according to reports.

Currently, the majority of yokozuna hail from Mongolia and Eastern Europe.



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