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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 November 15 - 21  > Sumo world still mired in violence
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2017 November 15 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Sumo world still mired in violence

November 16, 2017
It has come to light that sumo grand champion Harumafuji assaulted a wrestler, causing serious injuries to him. This provoked fresh public criticism of the sumo world which has often been criticized for condoning violence.

At a casual party held in late October, Harumafuji became angry about the way Takanoiwa behaved and reportedly hit him with a beer bottle. Takanoiwa’s skull was fractured and he could not compete in the November tournament that began on November 12 in Fukuoka City, where he was scheduled to compete in the top division.

Despite the seriousness of the incident, the Japan Sumo Association did not make it public until a press report came out on November 14. Both the association and Harumafuji should explain what actually happened.

Similar incidents took place in the sumo world before. In 2007, a 17-year-old wrestler belonging to the Tokitsukaze Stable was killed in violence committed by the stable master and senior wrestlers. In the following year, the master of the Magaki Stable was found to have injured a member wrestler by beating him with a bamboo sword.

In July 2008, the JSA submitted to the Education Ministry a report on measures to prevent the recurrence of violent acts which include a ban on violence against sumo wrestlers in training sessions. Harumafuji’s case has shown that these measures have not been fully implemented.

Violence related to acts of bullying has nothing to do with the sporting spirit. Sumo wrestlers and stable masters should abandon the long-held permissive attitude toward hitting, kicking, and other related acts of bullying. It is an issue that should not be ignored.
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