Photo/IllutrationStablemaster and former yokozuna Takanohana announces his retirement from the sport after a long conflict with the Japan Sumo Association at a news conference in Tokyo on Sept. 25. (Shinichi Iizuka)

Defiant stablemaster Takanohana retired from the sport that he once ruled on Sept. 25, saying that the Japan Sumo Association left him no choice after a long battle that saw him demoted and lose his JSA directorship post.

At a news conference, Takanohana, 46, a former yokozuna great, said the JSA wanted him to disavow a complaint he filed against the association with the Cabinet Office as "totally false."

"I have been pushed in tangible and nontangible ways, and if I do not admit what I wrote was false, I would have no choice but to close my stable," he said. "I cannot admit that by saying what is the truth is false. If this goes on, I cannot belong to the sumo world and my apprentices cannot focus on sumo."

Takanohana has been criticizing the basic policy of the JSA over the high-profile assault of his apprentice Takanoiwa, who was beaten by former yokozuna Harumafuji during a drinking session in November 2017.

The JSA removed Takanohana as an association director in January, blaming him for the delay in informing the JSA of the incident as well as refusing to allow Takanoiwa to cooperate with its investigation.

After that, conflicts between Takanohana and other executives of the JSA continued. He ran for a JSA directorship in an election in February, but failed in his bid.

On March 18, Takayoshitoshi, another Takanohana apprentice, who was in the juryo ranks at that time, became embroiled in scandal after he was accused of assaulting his attendant.

“I would like to start (my career) over and try as a rank-and-file member,” a repentant Takanohana said after the incident.

Takanohana withdrew his complaint against the JSA, which said it had many problems including his removal as a director.

In March, his council member status was demoted by two notches to the lowest rank "toshiyori" sumo elder for primarily failing to properly oversee Takayoshitoshi.

“I handed in a letter of complaint on March 9, that called for seeking the truth over Takanoiwa’s injury to the Cabinet Office," Takanohana said at the news conference on Sept. 25. "After that I withdrew the document due to the misconduct done by another apprentice of mine, I sincerely accepted my punishment, which was the demotion, and I was ready to start as a low-ranked soldier and have been diligently engaged in my work as a stablemaster."

However, Takanohana added that he received a letter on Aug. 7 from an outside lawyer telling him what he wrote in the letter to the Cabinet Office was totally false, which he replied in writing that what he had written was "not false."

"I feel heartbreaking grief, but I requested the JSA to allow my apprentices to transfer to the Chiganoura Stable," Takanohana said. "And I decided to retire.”