Former sumo champion Harumafuji fined for slapping junior wrestler with karaoke remote

Former sumo champion Harumafuji fined for slapping junior wrestler with karaoke remote

Former sumo champion Harumafuji fined for slapping junior wrestler with karaoke remote

Updated 4 January 2018, 17:00 AEDT

Wrestler Harumafuji was angry the younger man — who was left with a fractured skull — was checking his phone while they were out drinking at a restaurant-bar, a report says.

Former sumo grand champion Harumafuji has been fined 500,000 yen ($5,665) for assaulting a junior wrestler, said after prosecutors filed a summary indictment rather than seek a trial.

Key points:

  • Harumafuji retired last year after injuring another wrestler while drinking
  • It found he was angry the younger wrestler was checking his smart phone
  • Harumafuji said in a statement "the responsibility is all mine"

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.

The junior sumo sustained a fractured skull and was forced to withdraw from a tournament.

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 December 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.

The trainee was attacked by three others as a form of punishment under orders from their sumo master.

The stable master was sent to jail.

Reuters/ABC