Nine-time grand champion sumo wrestler Harumafuji is suspected of assaulting and injuring fellow wrestler Takanoiwa late last month by hitting him with a beer bottle, Japanese sports media Sponichi reported Tuesday.
Harumafuji, who submitted paperwork to pull out of the ongoing Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament the same day, did not deny the report, saying, “I sincerely apologize for causing trouble.”
The Japan Sumo Association announced Monday that eighth-ranked maegashira Takanoiwa has been diagnosed with concussion and skull base fracture among other injuries, and revealed that he been hospitalized from Nov. 5 to 9.
Both wrestlers at sumo’s top makuuchi division are from Mongolia. Harumafuji, 33, fights out of the Isegahama stable, and the 27-year-old Takanoiwa belongs to the Takanohana stable.
According to Sponichi, Harumafuji was drinking with other Mongolian wrestlers on Oct. 26 after a regional tour in Tottori, when the yokozuna struck Takanoiwa because he “did not like his attitude.”
On Tuesday morning, JSA executives, including Chairman Hakkaku, gathered at the tournament venue in Fukuoka Kokusai Center, where they questioned Harumafuji and his stablemaster, Isegahama.
Since his debut at the New Year tournament in 2001, Harumafuji has won the championship nine times, his last title coming at the autumn meet in September when he competed as the only yokozuna while the other three pulled out due to injury.
He lost his first two bouts in Fukuoka and will forfeit his scheduled third-day bout against top-ranked maegashira Tamawashi.