After ignoring safety protocols to go out drinking with friends, Abi (Maegashira #5 East) was forced to withdraw midway through the July basho. He submitted a formal resignation to sumo officials on August 4th, but on Thursday, the Japan Sumo Association rejected the letters and decided on a lesser punishment.
While most of the professional sumo world has reportedly been patient and diligently applying the safety measures outlined by authorities, Abi was found to be out socializing at hostess clubs before and during the July tournament.
[A note to those who do not know about the Japanese hostess club: It is a bar where mainly men go for drinks and conversation with attractive girls. It is not a strip club, and the hostesses are not prostitutes.]
This occurred not twice, as previously believed, but multiple times. On top of that, lower division rikishi Gokushindo of Nishikido-beya has admitted to accompanying Abi on these excursions. It also came to light that Stablemaster Tagonoura (former Takanotsuru) went on a drinking outing of his own during the July basho. These incidents caused some to question just how many others within the sumo association could be doing the same.
Criticism from PR director Shibatayama was understandably harsh, in one instance comparing Abi to the excommunicated Yokozuna Futahaguro (Koji Kitao). Futahaguro was infamous for having a ‘shocking’ rebellious streak, and for being the only Yokozuna never to win a top division title.
On Tuesday, Abi submitted his resignation to the JSA, only to have it rejected when reviewed on Thursday. Instead, sumo officials chose to bar him from competing for the next three basho, and to cut his pay by 50% for five months. In addition, Abi may be expected to leave his own home and live at Shikoroyama-beya, a tough consequence for someone who just got married a month ago. For failing to keep Abi on a shorter leash, Shikoroyama-oyakata is subject to a 20% pay cut of his own for six months.
Having been provided with a private room after undergoing knee surgery in May, the other perpetrator Gokushindo was able to sneak out of Nishikido-beya unnoticed. His resignation will also be rejected and he will be suspended for two basho. As for Tagonoura-oyakata, after somehow coming to the conclusion that he had made enough effort to prevent infection during his drunken outing, the JSA opted for the lightest punishment, a reprimand.
Source: Nikkan Sports