Photo/IllutrationSumo stablemaster Takanohana leaves the tournament venue after explaining the assault committed by lower-division sumo wrestler Takayoshitoshi, who belongs to his stable, to the Japan Sumo Association at Edion Arena Osaka on March 19. (Kensuke Suzuki)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Lower-division sumo wrestler Takayoshitoshi, 20, admitted to assaulting and injuring his attendant following his loss on March 18 at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, the latest body blow to the scandal-plagued sport.

The Japan Sumo Association director Kasugano said at a news conference that Takayoshitoshi's stablemaster, former yokozuna Takanohana, apologized when he was questioned by the JSA on March 19.

“It is true that he committed the assault. I confirmed it with him,” Takanohana told reporters in the morning at his stable in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture. “It is inexcusable. Violence is not allowed for any reason. I am so sorry about that.”

According to witnesses, Takayoshitoshi shouted abuse at his attendant and beat his face several times after 3 p.m. following his match. Takayoshitoshi has reportedly admitted his actions to the association.

It is believed the cause of Takayoshitoshi's rage is that the attendant was late in telling him when he was supposed to enter the arena for his bout.

Sources said the attendant was punched five or six times in a warm-up room. The attendant’s face was swollen and bloody and he suffered a cut to the inside of his mouth. He vomited blood in the toilet in the room.

According to a witness, there were other wrestlers who saw the assault occurring, but no one attempted to stop it.

A 14th-ranked wrestler in the juryo division Takayoshitoshi will drop out of the remaining seven days of the spring tournament at Edion Arena Osaka. His punishment will be decided at the JSA board meeting on March 29.

The association will create a crisis management committee to investigate and question the wrestler, his attendant and other witnesses. Takanohana, who was not at the venue when the incident occurred, will likely be asked about his responsibility at the board meeting.

Until the fourth day of the current tournament, Takanohana, who has been embroiled in controversy with the JSA, didn’t come to the tournament site. Although attending after being ordered by the association, he stayed only for a short period. On the eighth day, he came to the arena, but had already left when the attack occurred.

Takayoshitoshi, from Tochigi Prefecture, is a junior disciple of Takanoiwa, 28, a juryo wrestler who was beaten and injured by former yokozuna Harumafuji during a drinking session on a sumo tour in Tottori in October.

Harumafuji apologized and retired in late November.

Takanohana was criticized for not quickly reporting the assault of Takanoiwa, his wrestler, and refused to cooperate with the JSA in its investigation. The JSA dismissed Takanohana as a director in January, and he failed to regain a director's post in an election in February.

Takanoiwa is participating in the spring Osaka competition for the first time in three tournaments.

Also on March 18, the JSA revealed that another assault occurred at the Minezaki stable. A senior wrestler punched his junior disciple four times between September 2017 and January 2018, according to the JSA.

Of the four incidents, two occurred after Harumafuji’s assault came to light in November 2017. Since the assaults resulted in an out-of-court settlement, it wasn't disclosed until this time. The junior wrestler retired after the incidents.