Wrestlers admit bout-fixing: Minister

Tokyo: At least three sumo wrestlers have
admitted fixing matches, Japan`s sport minister told a
parliament panel today, as a strengthening scandal engulfed
the tradition-soaked sport.

Japanese education and sport minister Yoshiaki Takaki,
who oversees the sumo industry, said the head of the Japan
Sumo Association had informed his ministry that three
wrestlers had confessed to fixing results, Jiji Press said.

The report came a day after sumo association chairman
Hanaregoma issued an apology over claims that wrestlers had
colluded, but stopped short of confirming the allegations.

Bout-rigging claims have long stalked the sport, which
has its roots in Japan`s native Shinto religion, but there has
never previously been any confirmation.

Local media said yesterday that police found messages
indicating wrestlers were trading wins or fixing fights during
an investigation last year into organised crime-linked
gambling in sumo circles.

The messages were discovered on cellphones confiscated
from several wrestlers during a probe into betting on
baseball, media reports said.

The new allegations are the latest controversy to throw
light on the cloistered world of a ritualistic male-only event
in which contestants toss salt to purify the ring before

That image has been tarnished with revelations of drug
use, extortion and the 2007 death of a trainee who died during

Last year, scores of sumo wrestlers, who are expected to
act as role models in Japan, admitted to betting illegally on
baseball games in gambling organised by bookmakers linked to
organised crime.

Bureau Report

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