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Thu Apr 17 00:21:28 SAST 2014

Match-fixing wrestlers forced to retire

Reuters | 01 April, 2011 12:090 Comments
Sumo wrestlers bow their heads during a ritual ceremony at the start of an annual sumo tournament dedicated to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo in this April 9, 2010 file photo. Japan's ancient sport of sumo faces an uncertain future as it grapples with a match-fixing scandal that some have called the "darkest chapter" in a 1,500-year history steeped in ritual and ceremony

The Japanese ancient sport of Sumo faced further embarrassment on Friday when nine wrestlers and their stablemaster were thrown into retirement by the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) as part of the ongoing match-fixing scandal.

The JSA made the decision at an extraordinary board meeting although stablemaster Tanigawa said he would challenge the ruling.

“This is absolutely ridiculous. I told the JSA board that the panel’s investigation was full of holes. I will take legal action,” Tanigawa was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency.

Top division grapplers Kasugao, Tokusegawa and Mokonami were amongst those asked to resign along with lower-ranked Yamamotoyama, Kyokunankai, Shirononami, Kirinowaka, Sakaizawa and Wakatenro.

Japan’s 1500-year-old sport has been struggling to clean up its battered image following an illegal betting scandal with ties to gang members, as well as assault and drug use.

In February, the JSA were forced to cancel a grand tournament, one of six held each year, for the first time since 1946 because of an investigations into match-fixing.

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