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Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009

Asashoryu got death threat on Net

Compiled from AP, Kyodo

Yokozuna Asashoryu of Mongolia received a death threat on the opening day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, the Japan Sumo Association said Tuesday.

News photo

The threat, "Coming to Ryogoku to kill Asashoryu," appeared Sunday on the notorious but nevertheless popular 2channel Internet forum shortly before Asashoryu stepped into the ring to face Kisenosato in his first bout of the tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo.

Police said they tightened security around his Takasago sumo stable in Sumida Ward.

However, the Japan Sumo Association's head of security, Tomozuna, said no extra measures to protect Asashoryu had been implemented at Ryogoku.

"Security will be as normal and there will be no special measures put in place to tighten it up," Tomozuna said. "The yokozuna comes in through an underground entrance during the tournament so I don't think there is a problem. We haven't been contacted by (his stablemaster) Takasago."

Asashoryu, unaware of the threat at the time, defeated Kisenosato on the tournament's opening day. He appeared to be unfazed by the threat and won his second bout Monday and third Tuesday.

Asashoryu sat out part or all of the last three tournaments due to injuries, leading to speculation he would be pressured to retire if he got off to a slow start.

Asashoryu's antics in and out of the ring have irked traditionalists, who feel the cocky champ doesn't show enough respect for the ancient sport.

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