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BBC excerpt from Japan: Sumo wrestler may take fall for assault

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Excerpts follow

In 2007, a teenage novice died after being beaten up by older wrestlers, with the stable master subsequently jailed for five years over the abuse.

That case exposed a culture of bullying and hazing within the ancient sport’s strict hierarchy.

In 2016, a stable master and wrestler were made to pay nearly $300,000 (£230,000) to a wrestler allegedly abused so badly that he lost sight in one eye, according to reports.

Nine-time grand champion Mongolian wrestler Harumafuji, 33, has apologised for “causing trouble”.

The alleged victim, Takanoiwa, was hospitalised for several days, the Japan Sumo Association has said.

Japanese media report the incident occurred during a drinking session.

Sumo association officials told AFP news agency that exactly what happened remains unconfirmed.

Takanoiwa, who is also Mongolian, is reported to have suffered a fractured skull. The 27-year-old is part of a so-called ‘stable’ led by Takanohana, a former grand champion who reported the incident to police, according to Kyodo news agency.

Harumafuji and his stable master, Isegahama, were questioned by association executives on Tuesday.

The grand champion apologised publicly but did not confirm the circumstances of the incident.

“As for Takanoiwa’s injuries, I apologise deeply for causing trouble for stable master Takanohana, people affiliated with Takanohana stable, the Sumo Association and my stable master,” he told reporters.

 

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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