OSAKA--In another move to clean up the sport, sumo wrestlers, even superstitious ones, must shave off their beards before entering the dohyo, the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) said.
"We want you to be neat and tidy for the spectators as you climb up to the grand stage," Oguruma, the JSA director and former ozeki known as Kotokaze, told a meeting of wrestlers here on Feb. 26.
The sumo "dress code" currently states, "Sumo wrestlers must keep their bodies clean."
But under the JSA’s new rules, 5 o’clock shadows, as well as long nails and tattoos, will be prohibited.
Oguruma pointed out that some sekitori wrestlers in the highest makuuchi and second-highest juryo divisions have had stubble on their faces during bouts and "looked messy."
Some superstitious wrestlers who notch a string of victories believe that if they shave off their facial hair, their winning streaks will end.
Oguruma said that a meeting of the JSA’s board of directors earlier this month agreed that "wrestlers will be prohibited from keeping their beards even out of excessively superstitious beliefs."
The ancient sport has been rocked by a number of scandals, including violence outside the ring. Sumo wrestlers, particularly yokozuna, are expected to show a high level of dignity and discipline.
The JSA intends to issue warnings to wrestlers who violate the new rules.
Injured wrestlers will also be instructed to use athletic tape that is inconspicuous and blends in with their skin colors, although this item will not be included in the dress code.