Photo/IllutrationJuryo sumo wrestler Takanofuji talks to reporters in a news conference in Tokyo on Sept. 27. (Ryuzaburo Matsumoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

In line with an effort to rid the sumo world of violence, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) is urging 22-year-old wrestler Takanofuji to retire voluntarily after he assaulted an attendant for a second time.

However, the juryo wrestler said on Sept. 27 he will not voluntarily retire.

"The penalty is too harsh to accept," Takanofuji said, at a news conference at the culture and sports ministry in Tokyo that he attended along with his defense lawyers.

The JSA board of directors passed the resolution on Sept. 26 following the assault in August, similar to an incident that occurred at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka in 2018.

Even if Takanofuji refuses to retire, the board has already decided to take disciplinary measures against him in an extraordinary meeting to be held at a later date.

The punishment will be harsher measures that could include a forced retirement.

According to the JSA, Takanofuji became angered by an attendant’s attitude and hit him in the forehead with his fist after a training session on Aug. 31.

He also repeatedly shouted abusive language at his junior disciples.

According to the JSA's punishment guidelines, an assault case involving a wrestler in the second-highest juryo division will result in their suspension from one tournament, in principle, although consideration will be given to the disciplinary measure.

Following the incident, Takanofuji’s stablemaster, Chiganoura, the former komusubi Takamisugi, decided to suspend him from the recently completed Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

A JSA compliance committee investigated the latest case and submitted a report urging Takanofuji to retire.

The association took it seriously that the incident followed a similar assault on an attendant during the spring tournament last year, which resulted in Takanofuji's suspension from that tournament.

The sumo world has been rocked by high-profile scandals involving the beating of attendants by higher-ranked wrestlers in recent years. The JSA in December passed a set of rank-specific punishment guidelines in establishing a zero-tolerance policy toward violence among wrestlers outside the ring.