Police may question Asashoryu

Kyodo News

Police might question sumo grand champion Asashoryu about his drunken rampage in Tokyo, even though the Japan Sumo Association has said the Mongolian-born wrestler has settled with a man seriously injured in the incident.

Investigators intended to question the yokozuna only if the victim filed a complaint, but now they are moving to question the wrestler anyway, in light of the incident’s social impact, police sources said.

JSA Chairman Musashigawa said Saturday that an amicable settlement had been reached with the injured man, citing a verbal report from Asashoryu’s stable master, Takasago. But Musashigawa also said he hadn’t confirmed the existence of any written statements verifying a settlement.

“It was by word of mouth, no documents. Takasago came here and said, ‘It has been settled.’ That’s all I’ve heard,” Musashigawa said.

Takasago later confirmed he met with Musashigawa at Ryogoku Kokugikan, the main sumo arena in Tokyo. “It was a report about working out a settlement,” he said.

A formal settlement would likely preclude a criminal complaint from being filed with police.

The latest indiscretion by sumo’s perennial “bad boy” purportedly took place outside a nightclub in Nishi-Azabu in the early hours of Jan. 16 during the New Year’s Grand Sumo Tournament.

Asashoryu, who had been drinking at the club, allegedly punched an unidentified man who reportedly works there, giving him a broken nose, lip lacerations and bruises to the back of the head, according to a report in the Feb. 4 edition of the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho.

The sumo association gave Asashoryu a warning on Jan. 22, based on his account that the victim was the wrestler’s manager, rather than someone unrelated to sumo. But because that account has turned out to be false, the JSA is reportedly considering harsher punishment.

The ancient sport has been rocked by numerous scandals in recent years, including drug offenses, a death threat, and a six-year prison term meted out to a stable master over physical abuse leading to the death of a 17-year-old wrestler.

The sport’s governing association was to make a decision on what punishment, if any, to give Asashoryu after its board of directors election on Monday.