Takanoiwa Leaves Jungyo After Striking Tsukebito.

Following a hearing on the fifth of December, the Nihon Sumo Kyokai asked Takanoiwa to leave the Winter Jungo after it was revealed that he had punched and slapped his 24-year old tsukebito several times in the face the previous night. The beating came after the Tsukebito had forgotten something of Takanoiwas behind while travelling to and from destinations on tour. While the unidentified young rikishi didn’t receive any serious injuries, he did visit the hospital for precautionary measures. After deciding that Takanoiwa would go Kyujo for the remainder of the Jungyo, the NSK also cautioned Chiganoura Beya to rein in its rikishi’s behavior and warned that further penalties may be forthcoming once they have interviewed the victim.

At the time of writing, it is unknown what further punishment Takanoiwa will face, but Tachiai.org will continue to update readers as this story develops.

Edit by Andy to include the Twitter thread from Herouth

48 thoughts on “Takanoiwa Leaves Jungyo After Striking Tsukebito.

    • I figure we’re starting with a 5 of 10 and it could go higher as details come out. Keep in mind, the scale probably topped out at 10 with the hazing death of Tokitaizan, not the insanity of the Harumafuji, yaocho, or sekuhara scandals.

  1. More proof that this issue is a serious one for sumo. The fact that it’s Takanoiwa who committed this act is even worse.

    • Honestly, I don’t think sumo is alone in this and may even be ahead of other sports by addressing it. Ever been to a Pee-Wee football game or a high school soccer game? I’m not talking about the kids. The PARENTS are nuts. And in our local news, one of the headline stories has been the rape charges brought against members of a local high school JV football team who are charged (as adults) for raping their teammates with broomsticks, in a supposed twisted “tradition”. These kids are 14-15 years old. In the aftermath, many were more concerned about whether there would be an impact on the Varsity team’s football game the next weekend. After all, college scholarships and dreams of NFL riches are on the line.

      • You are absolutely right. It’s all over. Lots of domestic violence as well. I think there are a lot of reasons why this happens in sports, but one of them is that so many professional athletes are very entitled, because the rules have always been different for them, and people excuse truly vile behavior. Not peer violence, but many people defend Michael Vick to this day. It goes on and on. Time to stop in all sports.

        • It says 4 or 5 slaps and punches, not much of a “beating” more like a “slap down” neither good but huge difference.

          • Beating: an act of striking with repeated blows so as to injure or damage.

            I think any kind of violent physical outburst, especially from a senpai directed at his kohai, is unacceptable and calling this a beating gets across how serious this is incident should be treated.

          • Well, he luckily didn’t end up with broken bones, but his face did swell up. May I remind you that Takanoiwa is not exactly a blushing maiden slapping a cheeky boy on the face. Nor is he Hattorizakura.

    • yes Brutus, he is indeed. that’s one of the reasons (apart from the obvious one – don’t hit/slap/punch to start with) makes it even more wrong! he was doing so well on his comeback trail, the young lad he took under his wing in the early days won Kyushu yusho, so all positives… and now he does this. no wonder the twins think there’s nothing wrong with their behaviour if they set this as an example to live by. over a forgotten item ffs! in this modern day and age surely there are a myriad of ways for that item he simply couldn’t do without to be obtained and a non physical rebuke if he needed to give one would have sufficed…. sounds like he was behaving like a spoiled brat. am hoping new oyakata doesn’t mess around and deals strongly with this

  2. Very different circumstances of course, but it’s interesting that Takanoiwa is now the second former Takanohana Beya rikishi to be involved in tsukebito abuse in recent times. The first being Takayoshitoshi.

  3. Isn’t this part of Uber respect and discipline that is so much a part of Sumo?
    Meaning that if Takanoiwa felt disrespected the tsukebito would expect discipline, now referred to as abuse.
    Maybe a bit over the top, but probably within the previous to the major incidents norm.

    • The Sumo Association has made very explicit and very public efforts to thwart this type pf violence. These “efforts” were motivated in part by the Harumafuji incident, which something tells me Takanoiwa just might be familiar with. The rikishi have been told multiple times, in no uncertain terms, that physical violence as “discipline” or “punishment” is unacceptable. Takanoiwa’s stablemate just got punished by the kyokai for the very same misdeed of striking his tsukebito.

      If Takanoiwa, after all of these incidents, still thought punching his tsukebito was “expected discipline” and “the norm,” he’s the thickest human being alive. The norm has changed, and they all know it.

  4. I am going to suggest that Chiganoura Oyakata decided that he was not going to tolerate any of this kind of BS, and laid down the law. If it costs Takanoiwa his sumo career in order for Chiganoura to maintain discipline, then that’s what shall happen.

    As a Marine, I get this – it’s a tried and true leadership approach, and I think it has a high probability of success. As always, far better if it had never happened at all, but as an old Sergeant Major once told me, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes”. Fry the dirtbags and the rest of the Marines know to keep their noses clean.

    • There are countless other ways that Takanoiwa could have assigned punishment. Some examples are running laps and doing plank exercises or pushups to exhaustion. Physically beating someone has a much different meaning than simply running someone ragged until they can’t move. Why physical attacks are the “go to” reaction for rikishi is out of my purview due to a lack of understanding of Japanese culture. But, I hope it changes quickly.

      Also, thank you for your service, Bruce.

  5. Here’s a possible explanation for all this erratic behavior. A couple years ago, former NFL player Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in his cell while serving a life sentence for murder. His autopsy showed the degree of brain damage he had suffered throughout his relatively short playing career was positively stupefying. He had C.T.E. to an extent that no one had even seen. The part of his brain that monitored impulse control and judgement had virtually liquefied. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that these violent outbursts manifested by sumo wrestlers is simply the onset of early onset chronic traumatic encephalopathy. There’s no reason to believe that some of these guys aren’t brain damaged.

      • While Takayoshitoshi’s incident could easily be explained by the “culture” in Takanohana stable, you should know that studies of CTE in football players in the US have shown that early signs of CTE can show up even after just a year of high school football. Sumo and American Football aren’t the same sport and the physical contact is different, but I think it’s safe to say that any wrestler with a few years of experience has taken some hits to the head, and even someone as old as Takayoshitoshi could show some signs of brain damage.

    • It is certainly a possibility but it would be impossible to tell the degree to which CTE impacts sumo wrestlers compared to football players. Aaron Hernandez should be a special case. His life was…complicated.

      • Andy, agreed. Hernandez’ life was certainly extreme, but the last time I checked, of the 101 former pro football players who donated their brains to research, 99 showed signs of CTE. And I’ll bet anything that O.J. Simpson suffers from the same malady. I absolutely cringe these days when I see two sumo wrestlers bang heads at the initial charge.

        • For me, it’s the kachiage. Knockouts aren’t super common but we’ve all seen them. Was Hokutofuji the most recent example in makuuchi?

          Where I struggle is with finding the appropriate analog when comparing sumo to the obvious sports, like American football where CTE has become such a huge issue. I don’t think there will be adequate study for a while. Certainly, the use of helmets and leading with the head for tackles exacerbated the issue. But is a sumo bout like a single down for a lineman? Or a set of downs? Or a long drive? A quarter? Half? Or a complete game?

          Also to take into account is keiko when compared to practice/training. In American football, it’s not unheard of for players to die. While it’s usually ascribed to the heat of practice, I do wonder about whether the constant contact plays a factor. Here, the University of Maryland is coming to grips with the death of Jordan McNair this past summer. A new head coach was hired just yesterday.

          Then, where along the spectrum does the sport lie along with others, like Aussie Rules or Rugby, boxing, MMA? In my mind, the jury’s still out.

          • The bout that pops on my Youtube channels most often, and the most vicious, is the one between Hakuho and Myogiryu from a few years back. The Yokozuna’s forearm catches the smaller man right on the chin and Myogiryu has the misfortune of smacking his head on the ground. Double ouch. Watching him stagger around for the next few seconds is awful.

          • My assumption is that CTE is a lot more prevalent in sumo than we think it is. I don’t think it’s on the level of football, because players regularly hit helmets especially when the O-Line and D-Line crash together, but the tachiai is literally a three-point stance and a standard outcome is essentially a high speed headbutt. Combine that with Hakuho’s “slap and grab” and Takayasu’s “forearm smash” as acceptable tachiai strategy, and there’s a lot of noggin knocking going on in sumo.

  6. concur with the brain damage model described here
    that in no way excuses the behavior

    a serious problem in sumo world
    no easy answers, but backing off brutality in training can be a start

  7. I can’t believe Takanoiwa, of all people, has done this.

    In Fukuoka it was notable how much public support Takanoiwa was getting, much more than the other Mongolian rikishi (except possibly Tamawashi). No doubt the public were sympathising with what he had been through with the Harumafuji incident and Takanohana departure. Clearly this incident will change all that.

    In a way it’s good that this kind of stuff is getting exposed, and there needs to be harsh punishments to show just how unacceptable this kind of behaviour is.

  8. Just joining some dots here. Didn’t the whole Harumafuji incident stem from the perception that Takanoiwa had an attitude problem? I don’t expect sporting heroes to be plaster saints but Takanoiwa’s behaviour has obviously been “problematic” for a while.

    I’m guessing that he may be looking at a one basho ban without rank protection.


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