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Friday, Feb. 5, 2010

Asashoryu ends stormy career

No. 3 all-time winner, brash sumo champ regrets causing 'trouble'

Kyodo News

Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu, known for his truculent and fiery nature, said Thursday he has decided to bring an end to his illustrious but trouble-laden career.

News photo
Sayonara: Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu waves to the media as he leaves a news conference Thursday in Tokyo to announce his decision to retire. KYODO PHOTO

Asashoryu, 29, was accused recently of seriously injuring a man in a drunken rampage.

The yokozuna and his stable master, Takasago, were summoned by the Japan Sumo Association board of directors for questioning about the incident. Asashoryu turned in his resignation, which was accepted by the governing board.

"I am grateful for everything. I will retire," Asashoryu later told reporters. "I have caused a lot of trouble in the world. Right now, my head is clear."

Asashoryu, who won his 25th Emperor's Cup at the New Year's tournament to move into sole possession of third place on the all-time list for most title wins, was reported to have assaulted the man outside a Tokyo nightclub Jan. 16.

One of his managers initially said he was the victim of the assault and Asashoryu later received a strict reprimand from Musashigawa, chairman of the sumo association.

However, an unidentified man who apparently worked at the nightclub where the yokozuna had been drinking later emerged, reportedly telling police Asashoryu had attacked him, causing injuries that included a broken nose.

The sumo association later formed an investigation panel to get to the bottom of the incident.

"We were debating today whether to punish Asashoryu," Musashigawa said. "He felt compelled to resign for misconduct that was inexcusable, and the board accepted. I want to apologize to all of the fans and to the person injured in the incident. We will work together to make sure there is not a recurrence of this."

Sumo's self-styled enfant terrible, Asashoryu is no stranger to controversy and his frequent breaches of protocol led to an increasingly strained relationship with the sumo establishment.

He received a two-tournament ban in 2007, which sparked a bout of depression, for staying out of a summer regional tour by feigning the degree of his injuries while later taking part in a soccer match in his native Mongolia.

Asashoryu was also censured by the sumo association for playing golf with other Mongolian wrestlers, including rival yokozuna Hakuho, immediately before last year's summer tournament.

He was disqualified in a 2003 bout for yanking the hair of compatriot Kyokushuzan, a sumo no-no. He picked a fight with Kyokushuzan in the locker room afterward and was later accused of smashing the side mirror of the wrestler's car.

Asashoryu, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, was the first Mongolian-born yokozuna.



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