Sumo coach warned over beating three wrestlers with a golf club

TOKYO – A sumo coach was warned Wednesday by the Japan Sumo Association for beating three of his wrestlers with a golf club.

Sumo coach Kasugano visited the JSA after it was revealed he hit three of his wrestlers for ignoring his instructions to wear kimonos when going out in public.

The wrestlers were reportedly beaten in the abdomen and the back last Friday, Kyodo news agency reported. A golf iron with a broken grip was found at Kasugano’s training facility.

The three wrestlers, including Georgia-born Tochinoshin, have said they will not file a complaint as they were at fault. Sumo wrestlers are supposed to adhere to a strict code of conduct when going out in public, which includes wearing traditional robes and their hair in top knots.

The 49-year-old Kasugano is a former wrestler who reached the third-highest rank of sekiwake, competing under the name Tochinowaka.

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The incident is the latest in a string of scandals that have hit Japan’s ancient sport in recent years.

Sumo wrestlers have been under increased scrutiny after a match-fixing scandal hit the sport in February. Dozens of wrestlers were kicked out of the sport when it was determined they were throwing matches. That scandal followed one last year in which sumo wrestlers were found to be gambling illegally on professional baseball games.

In 2007, a junior wrestler was beaten to death by fellow wrestlers who used beer bottles to hit the wrestler over the head. The death of the wrestler led to a jail term of five years for his coach, who ordered the beating.