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2018 Hatsu Pre-basho Comments (continued)

Those were the findings of the committee, and they are the facts of the incident that occurred in the early morning hours of October 26th. We also know that this is what Takanoiwa looked like the next morning:

In fact, Takanoiwa looked like that through October 29th as he continued to participate in the exhibition events. NHK has footage from each day of the exhibition, and there were no signs on Takanoiwa's body that he had been assaulted. During the Kyushu basho, I posted this video footage of Takanoiwa fighting Ikioi the morning after the alleged assault:

With Harumafuji's having taken a bullet for the Association and retiring, the focus next turned to Takanohana who was refusing to cooperate with the Association. Yes, Harumafuji did ultimately retire, but the Association couldn't officially close the case for the following reasons:

- They weren't allowed to talk to Takanoiwa to get his side of the story
- Takanohana lied to the Association on November 3rd telling officials that Takanoiwa suffered injuries by falling down some stairs after the Association was contacted by Tottori police regarding a police report that Takanohana had filed on October 29th.
- Takanohana submitted a falsified medical report to the Association stating that Takanoiwa suffered the following injures on October 26th even though pictures and video from that day and subsequent days show Takanoiwa doing sumo at exhibition events with no visible marks on his body: concussion, laceration on the front left part of his head, inflamed right ear, fractured skull, and possible brain fluid leakage
- Takanohana refused to meet with sumo officials even though they formally summoned him multiple times

From that point, Takanohana's strategy was to simply lie low in hopes that the story would die as Japan headed into the New Year holiday, and while the media did back off in regards to reporting the inconsistencies in Takanohana's story and the fake shindansho, the story wouldn't die because the Sumo Association needed closure--something they could only get by talking to Takanoiwa and Takanohana.

In the midst of this, Isegahama agreed to resign his position as a director on the board and the Sumo Association announced that they were withholding Hakuho and Kakuryu's salary for January because the two Yokozuna failed to stop the assault of Takanoiwa even though they were both present.

Ultimately, Sumo Association officials reconvened the first week of January and voted unanimously to strip Takanohana's position as a director on the board, and then they also demoted his status as an oyakata downward two ranks. The Sumo Association still hasn't talked to Takanoiwa, but they did state that if he sits out the Hatsu basho (a likely scenario), they will give him a special exemption and keep him in Juryo for Haru even through he technically should fall to Makushita.

This scandal is unlike any I've ever seen before because there are so many unanswered questions, the most significant of which is...who did THIS to Takanoiwa?

This picture suddenly surfaced a few days after NHK released footage of Takanoiwa with no marks on his body during the end of the exhibition season (Oct. 26th thru the 29th). If you look at the shindansho, it specifically states that the injuries I mentioned above were sustained on October 26th, and if that really was the case:

Why didn't Takanoiwa have any signs of injury as he concluded the exhibitions?
Why did they allow Takanoiwa to fight in the exhibitions with those serious injuries?
Why wasn't Takanoiwa hospitalized until November 5th?

I'm not sure how familiar you are with the hospitalization system in Japan, but they'll keep you overnight for practically anything. If you break your arm, you're hospitalized for a week. They are so over-protective when it comes to hospitals and injuries that there is no way they would let Takanoiwa go 10 days without any care AND let him continue to do sumo with those stated injuries. Add that to the fact that his body showed no sign of injury the morning after the alleged assault, the big question in my mind is then: Who did kick Takanoiwa's ass on November 5th and cause him to be hospitalized for real?

The sad thing is that I'm the only one asking this question. Trust me, everyone in the media is thinking about it, but everyone's afraid to touch it. Furthermore, we won't have real closure to this incident until that question is answered.

It reminds me a lot of your typical bout of yaocho. Just take a recent victory by Kisenosato that involved yaocho (i.e. any of his wins in 2017). A typical bout is reported like this: Kisenosato fought such and such and the result was a Kisenosato win by yori-kiri.

What's ignored is everything that happened from the time the two touched their fists to the starting lines until Kisenosato's opponent stepped out of the ring. How we got to the result of the bout is completely ignored, and everyone just blindly sticks to these points: Kisenosato fought that guy, and he beat him by yori-kiri.

In the case of this Harumafuji incident, these are the facts as reported by the media: Harumafuji assaulted Takanoiwa in the wee hours of October 26th, and the punishments listed above were doled out to the parties involved.

How we got from point A to B is completely ignored and glossed over. On one hand, it should amaze me that such obvious questions and inconsistencies surrounding this incident are getting overlooked, but on the other hand, I know how the media works.

I suppose we'll never get the answer as to who really roughed Takanoiwa up, but one fact is clear and that is the Sumo Association has a snake in the grass, and his name is Takanohana. It's no wonder that after the Kyushu basho, multiple rikishi went to the Sumo Association and asked them to remove Takanohana as the main guy running the winter exhibitions. The Sumo Association complied and put Kasugano-oyakata in charge instead, and that just shows you the animosity that exists right now in sumo.

Hakuho got in a bit of trouble during his yusho interview in Kyushu for speaking the truth. As part of his speech he said that he will work to get rid of the pus in the Association and see to it that Harumafuji and Takanoiwa step on the dohyo again. What's the pus, or umi, that he was referring to? It's the double standard that foreign rikishi are forced to abide by. It's the blatant yaocho we see in the ring on a daily basis. And it's the dishonesty and corruption surrounding Takanohana in regards to this incident.

It's hard to say where sumo goes from here, but this latest scandal is just a reflection of what's allowed to transpire in the ring these days, and it will unfortunately never be resolved.

Don, Kane, and I break down the basho in more depth in our upcoming podcast, but my prediction for the Hatsu basho is that none of the foreign rikishi will want to even try and upset the applecart, so look for intentional sloppy sumo from the foreigners, plenty of yaocho, and a Japanese rikishi taking the yusho in the end.

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