Yesterday (January 26th), the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Mainichi, Japan detained three former professional sumo wrestlers and a woman over alleged participation in a baseball betting scandal, in violation of Japanese gambling laws, which rocked the sumo world during 2010.
Apprehended by the police were 29-year-old Tetsuya Yabushita, 34-year-old Sadahide Furuichi, and 35-year-old Shunsaku Yamamoto. Also arrested was Yoneko, Furuichi’s 63-year-old mother.
The men were all previous members of the Onomatsu wrestling stable in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture. All the wrestlers but Furuichi stepped down from wrestling in 2006, while Furuichi followed suit in 2010.
All four suspects are charged with accepting wagers on regular season baseball game outcomes from other participants of the sumo wrestling industry who wish to bet on sports in Japan. Between 2009 and 2010, the quarto are suspected of having accepted bets from roughly 10 sumo wrestlers and profited hundreds of thousand of yen.
The Japanese Sumo Association (JSA) and detectives claim that the wrestlers were performing as bookies, communicating odds and other information with sumo wrestler punters by mobile phone. The wrestlers kept a 10% cut from the prize pools, which were derived from gambling funds managed by Furuichi’s mother.
Detectives have proven that Yamamoto initiated gambling within the Onomatsu wrestling stable. The other two wrestlers started as sports punters, but accepted roles as bookies within the operation once the gambling began to flourish.
Previously, a trainer contracted to Yokozuna Hakuho and other sumo wrestlers was the first bookie identified. The JSA has also pointed the finger at 30 more wrestlers and coachs for involvement with the scandalous baseball betting, but it is believed that these 4 bookies moved most of the bets. Meanwhile, the police are also pursuing charges against 43-year-old sumo coach Otake and 34-year-old-wrestler Ozeki Kotomitsuki, the first members of the professional sumo world to be legally indicted in connection to the sumo gambling scandal which plagues Japan.