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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Men attempting to extort Kyokushuzan arrested

Kyodo News

Tokyo police arrested a former gangster and two gangsters Wednesday on suspicion of attempting to extort money from former Mongolian sumo wrestler Kyokushuzan, police officials said.

News photo
Yokozuna Asashoryu acknowledges the at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium after winning the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday. KYODO PHOTO

The police arrested Naohiko Miyamoto, 62, a former senior member of a group affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate, and gangsters Motomi Fujinami, 36, and Shinobu Maki, 36, for allegedly attempting to extort cash from Kyokushuzan, 34, whose real name is Davaa Batbayar, over gold mining rights in Mongolia. The three have denied the allegation, the police said.

According to investigators, Miyamoto pretended as if he was entrusted by Kyokushuzan, whom he met through a senior crime syndicate member, to mediate helping a South Korean underground resources development company try to get the mining rights to a gold mine in Mongolia, the police said. Although Miyamoto received money from the South Korean company in the form of a commission, a Chinese company obtained the mining rights, prompting the South Korean company to ask Kyokushuzan to return the money, the police said.

The suspects allegedly demanded that Kyokushuzan pay money on three occasions from last October to November, telling him to "present something tangible. If you can't do it, there is no option but to retire," the police said.

Kyokushuzan, who once held the fourth-highest sumo rank of komusubi, has told the police, "If there had been no such incident, I wouldn't have quit sumo wrestling. I wanted to continue wrestling."

Kyokushuzan, who became a professional sumo wrestler in 1992, retired last November, saying he was suffering from a heart ailment.

Also last November, the Oshima sumo-wrestling stable in Tokyo's Ryogoku district to which Kyokushuzan belonged, suffered a series of attacks and the police are investigating if they are related to the alleged extortion.

Asa sidelined

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian-born grand champion Asashoryu, who captured his 21st Emperor's Cup at the recently concluded Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, said Wednesday he plans to sit out the upcoming summer regional tour due to injuries, his stable elder Takasago said Wednesday.

Takasago made the announcement after a Japan Sumo Association executive meeting the same day, explaining that he has submitted a medical certificate to the regional board listing the yokozuna's injuries, including a stress fracture to the lower back.

"He has a stress fracture in his lower back and an injured elbow. There is a possibility that he will be able to compete midway through the tournament," Takasago said. Regional board head Oshima said Asashoryu will need at least six weeks to recover. The summer tour is scheduled to run Aug. 3-20.

The 26-year-old Asashoryu won his first title in three meets in Nagoya but had complained of discomfort in his lower back in the final week of the 15-day basho.

JSA chairman Kitanoumi said that the regional board hopes Asashoryu will participate in the summer regional tour if his injuries improve, even if it is just to perform the "dohyo-iri" ring-entering ceremony.

Asashoryu bounced back from an upset loss in his first bout with 14 consecutive victories to win the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.



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