Allegations of match fixing in sumo is nothing new. For years rumours of Sumo wrestlers taking bribes, yakuza involvement have been reported in the foreign media. When Russian wrestler, Wakanohō Toshinori (born Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev and ironically sponsored by the Japanese Drug Abuse Prevention Center), was busted with marijuana and kicked out of the sumo league he tried desperately to get back in the sport. When he was denied at every turn he dropped a bomb shell, claiming that he had been forced into taking a dive during matches with two Japanese wrestlers. After some secret back room meetings he recanted the allegations after getting around $55,000 “back wages” from his former employer.
Fast forward to 2011 and surprise surprise the allegations are true. Two wrestlers have been arrested for illegally betting on sports. In the investigation it was revealed they also were taking dives for money. Japan’s Sumo association is reeling with the revelation and next month’s tournament in Osaka was cancelled — the first such cancellation since 1946 when a tournament was called off because all available venues were in ruins from Allied bombings. In an impressive case of Japanese police sleuthing they were able to dig up deleted messages on wrestlers cell phones. (Let that be a warning to everyone! What were they thinking talking about this shit on the phone! Don’t they watch mafia movies in Japan?) The names of nine wrestlers, including four in the highest division, appeared in the messages. The going rate for throwing a match was about 200,000 yen, with one wrestler involved apparently demanding 500,000 yen (Around $4500 which seems ridiculously low considering you’re risking your entire career ).
In a surprising twist all this came to head because wrestlers were busted betting, illegally, on sports last year. Yet the police aren’t going to charge anyone with match fixing, as taking a dive isn’t illegal in Japan.
Read more of Yosomono’s Japan insights in How to become big in Japan and Japanese Myths-Porn Tricks.
Konishiki is sad today 😦
I guess we saw it coming. There have been quite a few matches over the years where I ended up saying “huh, what the fuck happened here?”. Still, it’s kinda disappointing to see the dirty laundry being hung outside like this.