January 4, 2018 / 4:02 AM / 16 days ago

Former yokozuna Harumafuji fined for junior wrestler assault

TOKYO (Reuters) - Former sumo grand champion Harumafuji has been fined 500,000 yen (3,283.66 pounds) for assaulting a junior wrestler, a court in Tottori, western Japan said on Thursday after prosecutors filed a summary indictment rather than seek a trial.

Harumafuji retired in November for injuring fellow Mongolian Takanoiwa while drinking at a restaurant-bar with other wrestlers, an incident that has threatened to taint the image of Japan’s national sport just as it was regaining popularity.

Prosecutors had filed the summary indictment against the former “yokozuna” (grand champion) for injuring Takanoiwa by hitting him on the head with a karaoke machine remote control.

A Japan Sumo Association’s crisis management committee report had found that Harumafuji, angered that Takanoiwa was checking his smart phone after being chastised for a bad attitude by yokozuna Hakuho, slapped and hit the younger wrestler with a remote control device.

Following last week’s summary indictment, Harumafuji’s lawyer released a statement on his behalf.

“Because of this incident, my life as Harumafuji is now set to be sharply different from what I thought it would be. I have a feeling of chagrin, to be honest. But the responsibility is all mine,” he said in the Dec. 28 statement.

The incident has thrown a spotlight on sumo’s struggle to reform harsh conditions that can breed violence in its closed, hierarchical world, although some wrestlers say there have been improvements in the decade since a trainee was beaten to death.

Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by John O'Brien

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