A champion sumo wrestler has been accused of assaulting another wrestler with a beer bottle during a night of drinking, breaking the man’s skull.
Harumafuji, who has achieved the top rank of yokozuna, struck a lower ranking wrestler named Takanoiwa in the head with the bottle on Oct. 26, Japanese media report. Both wrestlers are from Mongolia and the incident reportedly occurred during a party with other Mongolian wrestlers. Harumafuji reportedly was upset with Takanoiwa’s “attitiude.”
The attack left Takanoiwa with a fractured skull base and a concussion, the Japan Sumo Association confirmed, and he was hospitalized from Nov. 5–9.
Harumafuji withdrew Tuesday from the ongoing Grand Sumo Tournament, the final one of the year, after the news emerged. He also apologized for his role in Takanoiwa’s injury but didn’t take responsibility for how Takanoiwa was hurt.
“As for Takanoiwa’s injuries, I apologize deeply for causing trouble for stable master Takanohana, people affiliated with Takanohana stable, the Sumo Association and my stable master,” he told reporters.
Sumo wrestlers are expected to adhere to a strict code of conduct in accordance with the sport’s ancient traditions but the sport is not immune to controversy. Sumo was rocked by a match-fixing scandal in 2011 and in 2007 a 17-year-old novice wrestler was beaten to death by a stable master and three wrestlers.