More details on the Takanofuji incident

Taka-no-self-restraint

A few more details about Takanofuji (Née Takayoshitoshi) and his incident of violence have appeared in the Japanese press and media.

The incident took place on August 31st, right after the YDC keiko-soken was over and Takanofuji returned to the heya. Apparently he was displeased with the tsukebito’s attitude, and hit him on the head once.

The victim, who is a Jonidan rikishi, was still around the heya on September 1st. However, it appears that Takanofuji followed up with some brutal keiko, and the following day, three low-rankers went AWOL. Chiganoura oyakata noticed that, contacted them, and learned about the incident. He immediately reported the issue to the Compliance Committee, and has already publicly apologized for the incident.

The victim does not wish to involve the police and intends to come back to the heya.

Takanofuji has admitted to the facts, and is currently in “disciplinary kyujo” through Aki, and restricted to the heya by his oyakata.

Shibatayama oyakata commented that “Following a series of workshops, to have the same sekitori act violently a second time is exceedingly regrettable. Chairman Hakkaku says the same”. The procedure established in such cases is for the Compliance Committee to investigate the matter, consider an appropriate punishment, and report to the board, which makes the decision. The standard for a violent sekitori is suspension for one basho, but this being a repeat offense, the odds are high that it will be more severe than that.

Takagenji’s response: “This is a real shame. I don’t know what the punishment will be, but if it will be permitted, I hope we will be able to continue to do sumo together”.

Sources: Nikkan Sports, Sponichi Annex

(Internet speculation points to Takamasaki being the victim. He is ranked in Jonidan, and has been officially reported as one of Takanofuji’s tsukebito back in Haru this year. However, none of this has been confirmed nor is likely to ever be).

20 thoughts on “More details on the Takanofuji incident

  1. This guy was given a SECOND chance, and apparently, he doesn’t understand the meaning of keeping your hands to oneself. The ONLY raw, physicality should be on the dohyo…and within the sanctified rules of sumo, hand-to-hand engagement. Leave the brutalizing of your fellow rikishi OUT of the equation! It is not necessary, for God’s sake. Perhaps being promoted back to civilian status will be a well-earned justification for his stupid actions.

    • I’d bet it happens at least once a year, the vast majority of the stories simply don’t make it out to the public. A decade or so ago a relatively new deshi to Miyagino-beya was caught stealing from his heyamates and was summarily thrown out of the heya; for some reason that case did get a press mention.

      Also, I would guess this guy had his retirement papers handed in involuntarily: http://www.sumoforum.net/forums/topic/36670-tomozuna-beyas-kaishinho-arrested-for-theft/

      As for Andy’s mention of “family reasons”, a long while back I was told of a case where the retirement cause was publicly given as the similarly opaque “personal reasons” (it was a rikishi with sekitori experience, otherwise nothing would have been said at all), but the real story was supposedly that the heya simply had to get rid of him for something very severe that my source didn’t want to get into. So if true, that wasn’t a case of “jumped before getting pushed”, but rather “got pushed and was made to look as though he jumped”.

      Other cases that come to mind:

      Takatoshi (not to be confused with Takayoshitoshi, Takanofuji’s previous shikona) actually sued the Kyokai based on a claim that Takanohana retired him without his agreement, also alleging that he was the victim of bullying.

      http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=11733
      http://www.sumoforum.net/forums/topic/37481-takanohana-beya-scandal-looming/

      Mongolian pair Daiyubu and Daitensho made claims of involuntary retirements by their respective shishos in lawsuits some time back as well.

      http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=1152
      http://sumodb.sumogames.de/Rikishi.aspx?r=1170
      http://www.sumoforum.net/forums/topic/26427-daiyuubu-sues-the-kyokai-new-scandal/

        • No worries, Asashosakari. The links you provided have fascinating information and THANKS! Wow. I have come to learn (in my 17 years of watching) that Sumo it is more than just the refined physical skills, or the pageantry of tradition, or rigidity of politics — but there’s this underlining part that can steered itself into the negative, as well. Hopefully this mess will sort itself soon for all involved.

  2. Hello, I was wondering if anyone knows whether an oyakata can unilaterally dismiss a wrestler from their own heya? If they do have that authority, has a rikishi been dismissed by their oyakata before?

    • I’m sure they can…the nuance would be in defining “dismiss” because who knows what ultimatums are made or whether wrestlers leave “for family reasons”. There have been some recent retirements that seem to fall in that category.

  3. I am confident that several rikishi in the past have jumped when it was made clear that they were about to be pushed.

    • Yeah, that’s usually how it goes. I think technically, the oyakata cannot dismiss them, because he is not their employer – the NSK is. However, there have been cases when the oyakata wrote the retirement papers for the rikishi (I think that’s how it went for Futahaguro). But usually it’s just giving them the sword and expecting them to do the metaphorical seppuku themselves.

  4. ‘exceedingly regrettable” is that totemo zannen? Curious about the language.

    I’m interested in the different levels of zannen. Recalling Prime Minister Abe escalating “regrettable” in response to North Korea missile launches.

    Wondering if there is anything more regrettable than “exceedingly”

    • Actually, it wasn’t zannen at all. The expression was “大変遺憾” – taihen ikan. I’m sure you’re familiar with “taihen”. “Ikan” is “regret”, and as an adjective, “regrettable”.

      • Thank you Herouth.

        I wish I’d paid better attention in Japanese class. Was just trying to satisfy a foreign language requirement at the time.

        If I’d only known that decades later, it would be useful for sumo….

        残念 is more correctly disappointment then?

        I’ll have to look for what PM Abe says when rockets fly.

        • Well, it’s translated differently in different contexts. It more or less expresses what we feel in English when we say “too bad”, or “what a shame”.

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