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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2005

Futagoyama waging battle against cancer

Sumo stablemaster Futagoyama is waging a battle with mouth cancer, his son and former grand champion Takanohana revealed Wednesday.

Futagoyama, whose real name is Mitsuru Hanada, is being treated at a Tokyo hospital for a type of cancer that afflicts the region between the tongue and gums at the base of the mouth.

Former yokozuna Takanohana, whose real name is Koji Hanada, said in a media press release that his 55-year-old father is working toward recovery by taking an increased dosage of medication to reduce pain and prevent the spread of the cancer.

Takanohana, who himself is a stablemaster, said further that his father's condition "cannot be adequately described as being critical" and that he is able to squeeze people's hands and prop himself up to some extent.

"We've deepened the relationship between father and son. The biggest source of encouragement has been the warm messages from all the fans. I want to ask from my heart that the fans send their continued support to Futagoyama," Takanohana said.

Futagoyama, who made his mark in the elite makuuchi division as ozeki Takanohana until he retired in January 1981 after winning two Emperor's Cups, fell ill in 2003 and has been absent from the most major tournaments from the latter part of last year.

Japan Sumo Association chairman Kitanoumi said he believes Futagoyama, who turned 55 on Saturday, will make a recovery.

Profits down again

The Japan Sumo Association announced Wednesday that the gap between total revenues and total expenditures in 2004 came to about plus 159 million yen, down about 30 million yen from the previous year.

"Profit" -- defined as total revenues minus total expenditures -- declined for the sixth straight year, which brought to light the continuing slump in the popularity of sumo.

Total revenues for 2004 stood at 11.17 billion yen, down 800 million yen from the previous year, while revenue from business operations amounted to 9.97 billion yen.

"The JSA has no choice but to unite and overcome this," said chairman Kitanoumi.

Revenue from the six major tournaments fell 100 million yen from the previous year while revenue from regional tours dropped 115 million yen.

"A major factor is the drop in revenue from ticket sales," said a sumo insider.



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