Shamed sumo champ breaks silence

Asashoryu speaks after going from hero to zero after 25th top title win in January.

    Asashoryu announced his retirement in a tearful address in February [AFP] 

    The beginning of the end for one of the greatest wrestlers in sumo's 2,000-year history began with an alleged assault on a Tokyo man outside a nightclub in January.

    The end of the end comes in October, when grand champion Asashoryu will have the top-knot of his hair formally cut off to signal the end of his status as an honourable 'yokozuna' – the highest sumo rank.

    After fleeing for a Hawaiian golfing holiday when he resigned in February, Asashoryu broke his silence in Japanese media reports on Sunday.

    The 29-year-old Mongolian, whose birth name is Dolgorsurengiin Dagvadorj, was dressed in a suit and tie to make his first public comments since his retirement on February 4.

    "I'm Asashoryu – or was," he said.

    "I regret that while winning a lot of Emperor's Cups I also caused trouble."

    Beating

    Asashoryu, who was frequently in hot water during his controversial career, abruptly retired from the ancient sport last month following reports of a drunken beating outside a Tokyo nightclub.

    Sumo officials launched a probe into the allegations, prompting his decision to step down rather than face the humiliation of being fired.

    "Thanks largely to your support I was able to win 25 Emperor's Cups," he told members of his former gym.

    "I'm 30 this year and will do my best in my second life."

    Referring to a potentially awkward formal retirement ceremony, in which wrestlers have the top-knot of their hair snipped, on October 3, the Mongolian hardman said: "I would humbly like to ask for your support one last time."

    The 150kg Asashoryu was alleged to have left a man with a broken nose, split lip and heavy bruising following a night of hard drinking during his latest Emperor's Cup victory – the highest prize in sumo – on January 16.

    He has been linked in local media with a possible future in Japan's K-1 kickboxing.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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