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Top sumo champion demoted and forced to take pay cut after his student assaults other wrestlers

Top sumo champion demoted and forced to take pay cut after his student assaults other wrestlers

Sumo’s governing body in Japan has demoted one of the sport’s greatest champions over repeated violence by his 22-year-old protege.

The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) gave a salary cut to 38-year-old Hakuho Sho and downgraded him to the lowest rank after his student Hokusheiho Osamu admitted physically assaulting his two junior stablemates.

“I feel a heavy responsibility for being unable to protect the (abused) proteges,” said Hakuho.

“I’m so sorry for causing concern to the sumo association, fans and those who support me,” he was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. He will see a salary cut of 20 per cent and be demoted by two ranks, to the lowest for elders in the Japan Sumo Association.

According to reports, Hokusheiho slapped the others in their faces, backs and testicles, hit their buttocks with broom handles and lit insecticide spray to project flames at them.

The 22-year-old also apologised for his behaviour. “I deeply regret having used violence against my stablemates,” he was quoted as saying by The Japan Times.

The JSA also issued a statement criticising Hakuho for failing to correct his protege’s behavior and said he “significantly lacks quality and awareness as a stablemaster”.

Mongolian-born Hakuho won a record 45 top-division bouts during his sumo career before retiring in September 2021 and taking over his stable in July 2022.