Yokozuna Harumafuji To Announce Retirement


It has been reported in the Japanese press that embattled Yokozuna Harumafuji will hold a press conference Wednesday, and it is assumed that he will be announcing his intention to retire from sumo. While his fans all hoped that he would find a way to weather the controversy around his drunken beating of Takanoiwa, it was clear following yesterdays meeting of the YDC that he was not going to be given any quarter.

Should he retire, as is now expected, it will resolve the Sumo Kyokai’s involvement in the matter. His intai represents a significant loss for the sumo world, as Yokozuna are rare, and Harumafuji has been willing to do whatever it takes to support sumo and uphold his rank on the dohyo.

Check back with Tachiai, as we will bring you further details as they develop.

41 thoughts on “Yokozuna Harumafuji To Announce Retirement

  1. Such a bummer,he always had been and still is an honorable rikishi. He’ll take the fall, but I for one think he should be given all the accolades a retiring Yokozuna deserves, a chance to became a stable master, the monetary perks, etc… He deserves to go out with honor and grace….

    • He cannot become a stablemaster because he doesn’t have Japanese citizenship. He will probably get his danpatsu-shiki in the kokugikan, just like Asashoryu.

  2. Ahhhhh, this makes my Instagram feed this morning make sense! The Japanese sumo fans I follow were talking about Harumafuji retiring, but I thought it was just the possibility.
    This is really sad. While violence against another person shouldn’t be condoned, it is so sad to see someone who has contributed so highly to the sport go out like this. He won his last Yūshō but sheer will alone and knowing he had to uphold the integrity of being a Yokozuna. 😭😓

    • It’s still very early morning in Japan. I am going to assume by the end of Wednesday in Tokyo, most of the details around his intai will be known. I would like to think that he would be afforded the courtesy you describe, but I worry that they are going to have him take a hard fall as a way to show they are going to stand for good conduct in the ranks.There are quite a few things on the line here for him personally, and it could mean he must return to Mongolia in short order.

  3. Don’t be surprised if we see Takanoiwa go intai as well prior to Hatsu. He has to be under an unbelievable amount of pressure right now, possibly a pawn in a larger game between NSK elders battling for the future of sumo.

    • The situation with Takanoiwa is a mystery. Takanohana basically holds him hostage and controls his cellphone access. There was also talk about him going kyujo again, which might drop him near Makushita for Haru. I’m waiting to see what happens once everybody returns to Tokyo.

  4. Very sad news: I suppose that like Asashoryu, he has decided to jump before he was pushed. What makes it seem so unfair to me is that he had a previously exemplary record (unlike Asashoryu who was always trouble), but apparently that counts for nothing in sumo.

    I’m not sure about this but I think that although he can’t be a stablemaster he could work in sumo in some other capacity- is that correct?

    • He can’t get a kabu so he can’t be a member of the sumo association. In principle he could be a “hired hand”. But one question is what’s his visa type? Wrestlers get to Japan on an entertainment visa and a sponsorship by the NSK. If he got a permanent residence visa, he may do as he pleases. But if he stayed on the entertainment one, he can’t switch to a coaching job.

      And will he even want to stay in Japan and in Sumo?

      You won’t believe how much poison against the man is currently flowing through Twitter. People saying “Good riddance!”, “Give us back our national sport!”. People calling on him to never make a public appearance again. People calling both him and Hakuho liars. For every “Oh no” and “Too bad it had to end this way” there are five messages against him. I wouldn’t want to remain a second in such a poisonous atmosphere.

      • Wow that’s really disappointing about the backlash against him. Are these the equivalent of racist trolls or is it a broader sentiment? I tried to look at the comments on NSK’s facebook post about his retirement but they’re mostly in kanji, which I can’t read and FB does a crap job of translating. If you want to amuse yourself in these dark times hit the “see translation” on the comments. For example:
        “Day horse fuji poor! it’s funny”
        “I’ve been cheering for a long time since I was a horse”
        “I’m sorry to think that the badminton of badminton can be returned to the day”

        • :-)

          Twitter is worse: it’s using Bing translation. It offers you Russian translations for posts in Mongolian, and posts about sumo usually get perceived as either Estonian or Indonesian.

          The way to read Kanji like a boss (at least on a desktop browser) is to install Yomichan, together with the recommended dictionaries. You hover on a word, click shift, and you get its kana reading and meaning. In older versions of Firefox, Rikaichan did the same, and in Chrome there is also Riaki-kun. The idea is mostly the same.

          I have no idea if those guys are trolls or what, but usually I assume that if someone is making a statement on Twitter, not as an answer or quote of something else, it’s not trolling. It’s just his/her opinion.

  5. I had a little glimmering hope some miracle or Hakuho could save him. But this morning came out the news he hit him with the remote control, that was it.
    The YDC blocked down any possibility of interceding from Hakuho with that press conference yesterday. I guess they take the chance to blame him as well for even attending that party.

  6. The most sad thing about this is that the media – and hence the common memory – will “remember” him as the drunk Yokozuna who’s beaten another rikishi, not as the Yokozuna who was always fair and fought in all-pain showing what’s the fighting spirit. :-(
    Will he be now a policeman in Mongolia? What a fallback that would be.. :-(
    Will miss his ‘death-spin’.

    • Oh you are killing me – please oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, let him mount the dohyo face to face with Takanohana, and let them work it out like Yokozuna. One last death spin, with a tight spiral into the 3rd row of zabuton. Sadly, this will never come to pass.

      • You have to admit that it’s a bit unfair to pit a former Yokozuna who has lost most of his body mass and is probably as rusty as a doornail against a former Yokozuna who was doing keiko until yesterday.

        I suppose Takanohana would have to choose a proxy to do his fighting for him. Probably pick his best deshi.

        Wait a moment, this was actually the scenario of Harumafuji’s last official torikumi. :-(

  7. This is one of those sad times where I wish life was like video games, and I could just load a save game from before Tottori 2017.

    There goes any tiny of glimmer of hope I had that this would be resolved favorably.

    *deep sigh*

  8. The thing that burns me up is that he is clearly a victim of fake news. Crazy stories about breaking a beer bottle over Takanoiwa’s head and other nonsense that turned out not to be true. What really happened, and does the YDC even care?

    And what happens to Takanohana, for blocking the investigation? Nothing? To Takanoiwa, for hiding? It just boggles my mind how little anyone cares.

    Mystifying ….

    • Under the current leadership of the Sumo Association, Takanohana is done. He has always jockeyed for power, but his ascendancy looks almost impossible now, and the current leaders, who have always looked at Takanohana with suspicion, will use this imbroglio to ostracize him from anything resembling power.

      What Takanohana does have is amazing popularity. As the most popular living rikishi in Japan, he wields some power in the court of public opinion. One could argue that his big name is the only reason that the Kyokai hasn’t yet come down hard on him. It would make for awkward PR to go from this ugly Harumafuji incident straight to an expulsion of the last great Japanese yokozuna from the Sumo Association.

      But even in Japan, respectful criticism of Takanohana’s recent conduct is filling the airwaves. Unless there’s a coup d’etat in the Kyokai, Takanohana will either have to accept a diminished role, or leave the Kyokai altogether to form a competing organization. Now THAT would be interesting.

      • Are there any poll numbers reflecting his popularity? Before and after the death of Chiyonofuji? Takanohana has a unique reputation since his retirement.

      • I still wouldn’t be too sure that this leaves Takanohana in the dust. The rap on the last election two years ago was that Hakkaku was the choice of the conservatives and hardliners, including those who look unfavourably at the high-profile presence of foreign rikishi. Taka could find himself with some new allies here, which of course he’ll need after his old uneasy alliance with Isegahama fell apart. (That already happened last year reportedly, not just now.)

      • You just brought up something that I have wonder about for quite some time, Bakanofuji — another competing sumo association. Is that possible at all? Who would have the moxie to get that started? I know the idea is farfetched, but I have to admit — it is an intriguing thought! Maybe they can called it the Nippon Sumo Consortium! LOL! Okay, enough daydreaming, back to Earth I come…

    • Fake news? There was a beer bottle involved. Harumafuji says he didn’t break one over Takanoiwa’s head, but that a beer bottle slipped. But that he did hit him with a remote control. I don’t think that is a far distance from “hitting him over the head with a beer bottle.” The same thing: no. But in the same ballpark.

      And what other nonsense?

      I’m upset that Harumfafuji is being forced to retire. But come on! He is not a victim of fake news.

  9. Oh sumoshimi, you got it so right. Alcohol is the elephant on the dohyo. You are, I think, the only one to name it, even after all the talk and all the news, true and false, about this sad incident. After seeing Haru so often grab rikishi to keep them from falling off the dohyo, I really doubt that he would have sacrificed a karaoke control if he had been sober. Yet alcohol and shame are apparently so pervasive in the culture that their effects and their disasters are totally invisible.

    Keeping Haru and sending him out for alcohol treatment would have been a great preventative of future violence, and a constructive lesson, not just for him and for sumo, but for Japan. Kicking him out is not a helpful way to deal with this. Sending a problem child home from school doesn’t teach anything. The kid goes home, learns nothing, and continues being a problem at home. Sumo should teach about alcohol abuse along with their calligraphy lessons. Drop the shame about human behavior and do something to mend it. They mend broken teacups with lacquer and gold, don’t they?

    This is so sad for me personally. Watching Haru strongly and skillfully persist, match after match, despite his injuries and his losses, finally got me out of bed and (painfully) semi-functional after an auto accident. He’s been my angel. I don’t want him to leave.


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