They can’t fire him. He quit.

On the morning of 9 January, professional sumo wrestler Kotokantetsu Hiromasa logged on to his Twitter account and posted his thoughts in a few tweets.

What might sound like a normal morning routine for any 22-year-old, was especially rare for Kotokantetsu ever since he was forbidden to use any social media in November of 2019.

▼ The tweet from 11 November, 2019.
(Translation below)

“This morning the Association told the head of the Sadogatake Stable that use of social media by wrestlers has become ‘prohibited.’ Thank you very much to everyone who followed me. From now on I can’t do anything but retweet and like other tweets, so please unfollow me. Thank you very much.”

As he mentioned, his ban was a part of a controversial move by the Japan Sumo Association to forbid all of its athletes from using social media. Their reasoning was to curb the potential for any scandal in the event a wrestler posted something offensive or politically incorrect.

▼ A Kotokantetsu (pictured right) match from 2016, back when his name was Kotomiyakura

As such, all social media concerning sumo wrestlers was to be filtered through the official association accounts.

This all didn’t matter to Kotokantetsu anymore, however, because the situation had become more than he could bear.

▼ The recent tweet that broke his silence.
(Translation below) 

”As of today I am resigning. I told the head of Sadogatake Stable and Japan Sumo Association that I wanted to take a break because I was scared of traveling to the Ryogoku Kokugikan and doing sumo in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak.
As a result, the Association said that being afraid of the coronavirus is not a valid reason to take a break and that my choice was to either go or quit.
Because my body is important, I decided to retire because I couldn’t choose to wrestle while enduring the constant fear of the coronavirus.
To everyone who supported me and followed me Twitter with encouraging replies, thank you so much.
What I learned from my seniors was to take advantage of a painful experience and use it in the future. I think I’m ready to go live my second life!”

The tweet of resignation was met with an outpouring of support from other Twitter users.

“Sumo is a dangerous sport, but I don’t think you should fight COVID head-on. It’s a shame they pushed you to retire. Life is more important and I hope they change their minds.”
“Thank you for your hard work, and I will support you in your second life.”
“I think you made the right choice, because your life comes first.”
“The corrupt and outdated sumo association is wrong and I think it will continue to decline until it is fundamentally changed.”
“Throwing away your career is a huge waste, but that’s the way people seem to think these days. Anyway, good luck!”
“No job should come before your life and health. I support you!”

Kotokantetsu, who now goes by his original name of Daisuke Yanagihara, also said the he felt relived after becoming free of his social media ban and looked forward to telling more about what led him to his decision to resign.

Undoubtedly, the death last May of his colleague, Shobushi Kanji, who was only six years his elder, must have weighed on his mind. Also, in an eerie coincidence, at almost the same time as Yanagihara’s tweet, the Japan Sumo Association announced that five more wrestlers had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 16, including high-ranking members Chiyoshoma Fujio and Chiyootori Yuki.

A rep for the Japan Sumo Association said that they are taking every precaution to contain the virus within its ranks and carry on with the season as scheduled. However, Yanagihara may shed some light on how true that is in his future tweets.

Source: Twitter/@miyakuradaisuke, Sponichi Annex, NHK News Web
Top image: YouTube/shide kou
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!