Sumo champion retires after brutal assault on rival in drinking spree

Source:AFP Published: 2017/11/29 21:33:40

Japan's ancient sport of sumo suffered another humiliating blow Wednesday when grand champion Harumafuji retired to atone for a brutal assault on a rival wrestler while out drinking.

The Mongolian "yokozuna," sumo's highest rank, fought back tears as he apologized for the embarrassment caused by a violent outburst last month that left countryman Takanoiwa with a fractured skull.

"My conduct was not befitting of a yokozuna," Harumafuji told a news conference in Fukuoka, before bowing deeply to express his contrition.

"I take full responsibility for injuring Takanoiwa. I'm deeply sorry for the trouble I've caused."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe weighed in on the debate, while news of Harumafuji's demise even nudged North Korea's latest missile launch off top spot on many Wednesday morning news programs.

His stable-master Isegahama sobbed as he revealed that Harumafuji had offered his resignation over the incident.

"I've watched him grow since he was 16 and have never seen or heard of him being violent before," said Isegahama, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief. "I can't imagine why it happened."

Yokozuna are expected to be beyond moral reproach but the writing was on the wall for Harumafuji after he confessed to hitting Takanoiwa for texting his girlfriend while he was scolding him over his poor attitude.

The 33-year-old Harumafuji, who reached sumo's hallowed rank five years ago and whose real name is Davaanyam Byambadorj, denied reports he had used a beer bottle in the attack but admitted punching Takanoiwa and bashing him with a karaoke remote control.

Takanoiwa, 27, was hospitalized after suffering concussion and a fractured skull base in the fight, which broke out at a bar in the western Japanese city of Tottori in late October, according to local media.

His stable-master subsequently reported the incident to the police, who invited Harumafuji in for questioning.

"I felt it was my duty to correct a lack of manners and civility," said the disgraced yokozuna, partly explaining his rage that night.


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