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14 November 2017, 07:48 | Henrietta Morgan
Yokozuna Harumafuji suspected of assaulting wrestler: report
A SUMO wrestling champion left a rival with a fractured skull after allegedly attacking him with a beer bottle.
Harumafuji, one of three Mongolian "yokozuna" - or sumo grand champions - apologized on Tuesday to Takanoiwa for his injuries and for "causing trouble" for Takanoiwa's stable master Takanohana. He pulled out of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament that started Sunday according to the report.
They were drinking with a group of compatriots when Harumafuji was said to have become "angered by the attitude" of Takanoiwa.
For years, non-Japanese wrestlers were prohibited from obtaining the rank of yokozuna, the highest title in sumo, until 1993.
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But he deflected further questions to the "stable master" who runs the camp.
"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.
That case exposed a culture of bullying and hazing within the ancient sport's strict hierarchy.
Weighing in at 137kg (300lb), Harumafuji is considered a relatively small sumo wrestler, and is lauded for his technique in the ring.
Speaking to reporters at a sumo wrestlers' residence in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Harumafuji expressed deep remorse over the recent incident.
Another Mongolian grand champion Hakuho, seen as a gentle giant, has nearly single-handedly restored the sport's good name.
In 2016, a stable master and wrestler were made to pay almost $300,000 (£230,000) to a wrestler allegedly abused so badly that he lost sight in one eye, according to reports.
And in 2010, firebrand Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu retired after being accused of breaking a man's nose in a drunken brawl outside a Tokyo nightclub.
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Violent treatment of apprentices and junior wrestlers in the name of training had always been seen as par for the course at sumo stables, but the sport is now struggling to oust such customs.
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