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Sumo accused of bout fixing

Date Posted: 2000-02-04

A former sumo wrestler of the rank komusubi has cause a furor in sumo circles by accusing many of the wrestlers engaging in less than fair play. The former wrestler, Keisuke Itai, made the accusations during a lecture he gave at the Tokyo Foreign Correspondents’ Club January 21.

According to Itai, Grand Champion Akebono (Chad Rowan of Hawaii) and ten other wrestlers have been among those who have paid cast to their opponents in order to secure the victory. Itai said that he himself had been among the recipients of the money, claiming Akebono had once paid him ¥400,000 in exchange for agreeing to lose a bout.

Akebono vehemently denies the charges. “Itai is a liar. I never gave him money, or anyone else for that matter. And I never asked anyone to wilfully lose against me,” Akebono said when asked by press.

The Japan Sumo Association, the sports governing body, is not amused either. The chairman of the Sumo Association, Tsufuu Toki, handed Itai a letter of protest demanding an apology. Further, according to a lawyer representing the association, the association is ready to take Itai to a court and sue for damages if the apology is not forthcoming.

Itai is not apologizing. In an article he recently wrote in a magazine he wows to stay behind his accusations. “I’m not apologizing, I’m just telling the truth. I have proof to back me up and I will make that available in the near future,” Itai wrote.

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