This is such a cool story, so thank you Tomiko (my Tokyo reader, correspondent) for telling me about it.
Here is what she told me. Last week, Japanese police arrested three former sumo wrestlers over a gang-linked gambling scandal that rocked the ancient national sport last year.
Sadahide Furuichi, 34, Tetsuya Yabushita, 29, and Shunsaku Yamamoto, 35 — all from the Onomatsu stable, were arrested, according to Jiji Press, Kyodo News and public broadcaster NHK.
Police also arrested Furuichi’s mother, Yoneko, 63, the reports said, quoting Tokyo Metropolitan Police investigators in charge of organised crimes.
The four were suspected of illegally organising baseball gambling and collecting more than one million yen ($12,100) in bets from several sumo wrestlers in 2009 and 2010, news reports said.
Yamamoto told police that gangsters were involved in some of the gambling, Jiji reported.
Last year, scores of sumo wrestlers, who are expected to act as role models in Japan, admitted to betting illegally on baseball games in gambling organised by bookmakers linked to organised crime.
Shades of Pete Rose.
The sport’s ties with organised crime and revelations of widespread illegal gambling plunged sumo into deep crisis, leading sponsors to withdraw and NHK to boycott a national tournament in July.
It also emerged that top members of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s biggest crime syndicate, were given ringside seats at sumo tournaments, allowing them to send messages to jailed gangsters via NHK broadcasts seen in prisons.
Ain’t this a cool story????