Takanoiwa Intends to Retire

Takanoiwa will announce his retirement from sumo following the latest beating scandal. Former Takanohana oyakata stated his disappointment with Takanoiwa. 言語道断 (gon’go do dan) is a four-character phrase that approximates “speechlessness” because it’s so outrageous that it’s difficult to express. There is an intense irony that Takanoiwa is the first case to be pursued after the Kyokai’s October implementation of its new anti-violence policies. Perhaps this finally draws a line in the sand for the Harumafuji incident?

29 thoughts on “Takanoiwa Intends to Retire


  1. Maybe this retirement stems more from the Harumafuji fallout than anything else. All the hassles and all the abuse may have finally gotten too much for him. And he sees this as a way of paying penance to everyone.


  2. Look like a sad end to a once very promising career: I always liked the guy’s in-ring performance which showed strength, skill and tenacity. At least he is being straight up about it and not looking to deflect the blame.

    If you want to find a bright side: Terutsuyoshi is now pretty much certain to make it into makuuchi, and Daishoho may even be in with a squeak.


    • The banzuke is set the Wednesday after the basho. If anyone retires in the meantime there is usually just a space on the banzuke.


      • Thanks for the correction: I’m certain you are right and that there will be no extra promotions. I’ve done a bit of reading and I’m not so sure about the “blank space”. When Tokitsuumi was blanked after the banzuke was drawn up in 2007 it was apparently because he went straight from retiring to become a stable master and they didn’t want the same name to appear twice. So maybe Takanoiwa’s name will be included and his record will go down as 0-0-15. That would be weird, but this is sumo.


  3. Once I heard it was Takanoiwa, I was curious to see if this would be the result. The precedent that was set by Takanohana pretty much sealed his fate once this news broke.


  4. Quite frankly and with all honestly in my heart, this is probably the best news I have heard since Harumafuji was forced to retire. I believe that Sumo is poorer for not having him as a Yokuzuna and he probably still have a few years of good sumo left in him if not because of this guy.

    Of course, I am not condoning what Harumafuj did but if all accounts are correct, Takanoiwa was hardly an innocent bystander in that incident. It was a provoke assault in some sense.

    So yeah. I can good gracious. I am happy to see him gone and will not miss him.


    • You know, guys, how about a little conspiracy theory? Maybe things got so uncomfortable for Takanoiwa back in Mongolia, he decided that grand sumo simply wasn’t worth the non-stop aggravation and looked for a way out. And maybe since it would be looked upon as weak and cowardly to just up and quit, he figured if he roughed up his attendant that he would be forced into retirement he secretly wanted. Just a thought.


      • If things are uncomfortable now, where do you think he’s going back to? Unless I’m mistaken he’s not a Japanese citizen so back to Mongolia he goes.


    • Dude, there is literally zero scenario where you get to assault somebody. Zero. They were in a bar. Harumafuji could have gone home. It’s one thing to defend yourself, of course, it’s quite another to bash somebody with a beer bottle because you’re annoyed he is using his phone. I’ve managed 43 years on this planet to not hit somebody with a beer bottle, it hasn’t been a tough challenge.


      • It was a karaoke remote, not a beer bottle, but yes, you don’t get to fracture someone’s skull with a blunt object no matter how rude they’re being.


      • The thing is, there is one scenario where they do get to assault someone: on the dohyo. I think that’s why it’s hard for them to “turn off” the aggression. Why is what they do to each other in the ring for sport (sumo, boxing, MMA) okay but not in life when it’s for moral purposes?

        The devil’s advocate argument there. I like to make people think. But more importantly, I think their aggression does need to be put in context. We see with dogs what happens when aggressive traits are rewarded and passed on to the next generation…we get inherently aggressive breeds of dogs where the entire breed is banned in places like the UK. Coincidentally, the Tosa Inu, the Yokozuna dogs from Kochi are banned in some places…just to bring things full circle.


        • I have to agree with your point Andy. The pledge to ‘eradicate violence from Sumo’, always struck me as odd, like it needed a footnote or something.

          I’m recalling reading “There is no place for violence in sumo.” That struck me as odd, since there is one vary obvious exception, and it’s broadcast live around the globe.

          More accurately: “We pledge to restrict violence to intense moments at a particular place and time, and within some limits.” … Doesn’t have quite the same ring of moral authority to it…


        • I disagree. It’s pretty simple to understand that when you are barefooted, wearing a mawashi and your feet are touching the ground, you are in a different setting than when you are dressed in a full Kimono, sitting down on comfortable sofas and enjoying your drinks. Most people know not to make crude jokes to their boss even though they make them every day to their friends. People know how to differentiate their settings and circumstances.


          • Telling jokes is different, though. Even then, we all likely know someone who (even sober) should have a better filter. I just think that aggression is reinforced through their intense practice deeper into an athlete’s instincts than their sense of humor, to a place where contextual cues, like shoes, are not considered before reacting…especially if inhibitions are dampened through drinking. I wouldn’t be surprised if even horseplay and other more casual interactions also reinforce aggressive behavior. Being around college football players at off-campus parties, or in the club, I can’t think of the gentle, quiet giant strategy winning many “phone numbers”. Competition and social hierarchies only seemed to be more deeply engrained…all the more so among those who were members of fraternities (the closest Western institution I can think of to a sumo heya).


            • The social interactions of male-only societies are a different story. As you say – it’s not actually related to being a wrestler, but rather to being in a fraternity or the like. Take soldiers, for example. Best known breeding ground for abusive behavior. But they seldom shoot at each other – which is what they are trained to do as soldiers. They find other ways to abuse power – make their fellows drink pea, require them to hold their hands up for hours and sometimes beat them up with hands or brooms or whatnot. This is not trained behavior – this is emergent behavior.


            • I have always thought that the combination of regular massive beer intake, extreme strength, and being a professional aggressor is not the wisest. I know this incident didn’t involve liquor, but Haramafuji’s did and I’m guessing others did as well.


        • Despite your being voted down, you are 100% right…you cannot live a violent life for 3 hours of training a day from age 15 onwards and where violence literally solves every problem for you (you are excellent at violence = rise up the ranks where you get servants, no longer have to cook/clean, get paid, eat first etc…) then be surprised when some of them cannot handle their personal lives. It’s like being shocked that Tiger Woods cheated. So, absolutely, it doesn’t surprise me in the least that dudes who hit other people for a living and are adored for it, have interpersonal problems. I don’t know what the answer is…maybe less brutal training…maybe more chaperone type people…more life skills for guys dropped off at a stable at age 15 and being raised by dudes who only care about their skill in the ring…


      • One would have hoped that a year after the incident in question the rumour about the beer bottle would have well and truly been put to rest! And was the fractured skull ever confirmed as being a result of the beating rather than from action on the dohyo? The issuing of more than one sick note and the manipulations of Takanohana led to me being cynical about all the information being circulated from his stable.

        I agree that in day to day life it isn’t acceptable to physically assault people that are annoying or disrespectful (if it was my daily commute would be even more stressful) but it seems from what I’ve read that within the sumo world it’s been very much a part of accepted discipline. Am I correct in thinking that Tochinoshin received a beating for breaking stable rules and going out some years ago? With that culture I have no trouble understanding how the Harumafuji incident occurred.
        Having said all that, with the rules having been made very clear over the last months you’d have to be a special kind of stupid to think that beating a tsukebito would be okay.


    • naturally everyone misses ama
      but it’s good he got out, injured as badly as he was

      quality of life is better without further damage
      a weird way out, but still, better for him than staying to get hurt worse, then suffer more for the rest of his life


    • I don’t think blaming the victim is the right call. Just because Takanoiwa committed assault himself does no make what Harumafuji did to him right. Not in any way.

      Yes, sumo is poorer for Harumafuji retiring, but that was his own fault. Harumafuji was not forced to retire “because of this guy” but because of what he did to “this guy”. He was a bloody idiot and deserved what he got.


  5. I hope the resolution to this is enough that the Emperor will be able to attend the January tournament, his final opportunity while on the throne. Not having him there – again – would be a blow to the sport.

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