Sumo's governing body decided Friday to demote former yokozuna Hakuho, now known as stablemaster Miyagino, and give him a salary cut over repeated violence by his 22-year-old protege Hokuseiho.

The Japan Sumo Association has accepted the retirement of the Mongolian-born, Hokkaido-raised Hokuseiho after he physically abused two junior stablemates for more than a year, saying it would have recommended that he retire had he not made the decision first.

Some of Hokuseiho's violent acts include slapping their faces, backs and testicles, hitting their buttocks with a broom handle and lighting insecticide spray to project flames at them.

Sumo stablemaster Miyagino (L), widely known as former grand champion Hakuho, and his 22-year-old protege Hokuseiho meet the press at the Miyagino stable in Tokyo on Feb. 23, 2024. (Kyodo)

"I feel a heavy responsibility for being unable to protect the (abused) proteges," said Miyagino, who won a record 45 top-division championships during his sumo career as Hakuho. "I'm so sorry for causing concern to the sumo association, fans and those who support me."

Miyagino will be demoted by two ranks to the lowest of the JSA's ranks for sumo elders, excluding the rank for those rehired after the age of 65, after the association questioned his supervisory ability.

Demotion is the third most severe punishment out of seven for JSA members, behind dismissal and a recommendation for retirement.

He will also take a 20 percent reduction in remuneration for three months.

The JSA has also decided to have a stablemaster of the Isegahama group serve as the Miyagino stable's acting chief during the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament beginning March 10, having taken issue with Hakuho's lack of leadership.

At Wednesday's JSA compliance committee meeting, Miyagino and Hokuseiho, whose real name is Ariunaa Davaaninj, were both present. The stablemaster claimed to be unaware of the problem, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Mongolian-born Hakuho retired in September 2021 before taking over his stable in July 2022.

The Miyagino sumo stable is pictured in Tokyo on Feb. 22, 2024. (Kyodo)

The JSA statement said Hakuho "significantly lacks quality and awareness as a stablemaster" after he failed to correct Hokuseiho's conduct for over a year. The JSA's director of communications, sumo elder Shibatayama, said there was "a suggestion to remove him from the JSA" at the compliance committee.

Hakuho, who drew criticism toward the end of his career for his unruly wrestling style and self-righteous behavior was sternly warned that his stable will be closed should he or his protege cause trouble again, a source close to the matter said.

The 204-centimeter, 182-kilogram Hokuseiho had been seen as a strong prospect.

He pulled out of January's New Year meet on the sixth day due to a knee injury. A source said allegations of violence surfaced at that time, prompting a JSA investigation of the stable.

"I deeply regret having used violence against my stablemates," Hokuseiho said while bowing.

Related coverage:

Sumo: Former yokozuna Hakuho facing penalty over Hokuseiho violence

Sumo: Kotonowaka inches toward first championship with 11th win

Sumo world awaits new yokozuna as Terunofuji's retirement looms