FUKUOKA--In a triumphant moment, with the nation's eyes upon him, yokozuna Hakuho may have overstepped his bounds on Nov. 26 during an interview after winning his 40th Emperor's Cup at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho referred to the drunken brawl between yokozuna Harumafuji and maegashira Takanoiwa in late October and apologized to the audience on the final day of the Kyushu basho as representative of all sumo wrestlers.

Hakuho then went on to say, "I feel that I want to once again bring Harumafuji and Takanoiwa back onto this dohyo."

Sumo experts were quick to pounce on Hakuho's comment, saying he did not have the authority to make a decision about the two Mongolian wrestlers.

"Whether the wrestlers can return to the dohyo will be up to the Japan Sumo Association and it is not something to be decided by a yokozuna," said Masayuki Tamaki, who has written broadly about sports in general. "I feel that Hakuho has become a little too arrogant lately. The association also is responsible because it has allowed this to go on."

Hakuho was also criticized by some for protesting his only loss during the tournament on Nov. 22 to sekiwake Yoshikaze, after what he believed was a false start. The yokozuna stood in silent protest with his arm raised and delayed the ceremony marking his opponent as the victor.

Mitsuru Yaku, a cartoonist who is also knowledgeable about sumo, said, "If he had the recognition that he was one of those who was at the site of the beating incident, he would have known that he would not be allowed to speak so freely and he would not have asked the crowd to join in a banzai cheer. His self-righteous action shows he does not understand the depth of the problem."

In concluding his interview, Hakuho asked the crowd to continue to support sumo and led them in three banzai cheers, which are normally made only on auspicious occasions.

The incident between Harumafuji and Takanoiwa occurred during a drinking session among Mongolian sumo wrestlers in Tottori in late October while on a regional tour. Takanoiwa sat out the entire Kyushu tournament from the first day, while Harumafuji dropped out from the third day.

Hakuho, who was at the drinking outing, is expected to be questioned as early as Nov. 28 by Tottori prefectural police as well as members of the JSA risk management committee looking into the incident.

Investigations by both the police and risk management committee are still not concluded. The JSA has also not yet decided if any disciplinary action will be taken against Harumafuji or other wrestlers.

One member of the risk management committee said about Hakuho's comment, "It will have no influence on our investigation. All I can say is that as one yokozuna, he probably held such feelings."