As previously reported, Takanoiwa has decided to hand in his retirement forms.
On the previous night, he had a talk with his new stablemaster, Chiganoura oyakata. The stablemaster tried to dissuade him from retiring, saying “You can still gambarize. There is still a lot that you can do. Let’s gambarize!” – but Takanoiwa’s mind was already made up. The head of the NSK board, Hakkaku, also asked him if he was sure this was the path he wanted to follow. Again, his mind was made up.
The NSK has therefore accepted his resignation. In a press conference earlier today, Takanoiwa expressed his apologies to his family, his stablemaster and okamisan, the rikishi, supporters and fans, as well as to his tsukebito.
A short Q&A session followed this announcement:
Q: Describe your current state of mind.
A: I feel deep responsibility for what I have done.
Q: When did you decide to retire?
A: Yesterday night.
Q: Have you spoken to your tsukebito?
A: Yes, I have.
Q: Have you weighed any options other than retiring?
A: Yes, but the feeling that I had to take responsibility and retire was the strongest.
Q: Only a year ago you were in the position of a victim.
A: This is a weakness of my own attitude.
Q: Have you learned anything from Sumo?
A: I learned how to put effort into hard work.
Q: What is the strongest memory you have from your life in sumo?
A: There are many memories, but I will remember sweating it together with my mates in practice sessions.
Q: If the gods of sumo turned back time, what time would you want to go back to?
A: I would go back to being a new recruit.
(Mostly based on Nikkan Sports)
So the three people most closely involved in the Harumafuji incident – Harumafuji, Takanoiwa and Takanohana – are all out of the sumo world.
A question sumo fans repeatedly ask is whether this will affect the banzuke for Hatsu. The answer is – based on past experience – it won’t. The banzuke will remain as it is, with either a blank or Takanoiwa’s name appearing in whatever position they have set for him. Changes to the banzuke after it has already been set down (and written out by the gyoji) are rare.
- Stablemasters are usually punished for their deshi’s misdeeds. It’s still unclear how Chiganoura will be sanctioned, especially given that he has been in charge of Takanoiwa for only a very short time.
- What will the NSK decide to do about Takanoiwa’s retirement funds? In the Harumafuji case, some part of them has been docked.
I will keep my eye on this story for a while, to see how Takataisho, the victim of this violent incident, is holding up in the sumo world. If you recall, the victim of Takayoshitoshi has retired from sumo a short while after the incident. I hope Chiganoura and his okamisan will be able to provide better protection for the young wrestler.
I will also watch out for word from the Imperial Household. Last year, following the cluster of scandals, the Emperor decided not to hold his yearly sumo viewing. The 2019 Hatsu basho is his last opportunity to view sumo as an emperor, and it would be sad if he missed out on that as well.