Sumo Asashoryu retires

5 February 2010

As reported in an earlier post (Sumo wrestler behaving badly), pressure on Asashoryu was increasing by the day. He has decided to retire from sumo, and it is a big news in Japan. Asashoryu had engaged in a drunken brawl and he had assaulted a man in the early morning of 16 January.

The sumo association’s council debated on 4 February, whether to fire him or not. There was a split between those who called for his immediate dismissal, and others who wanted to give more time to conduct proper investigation. Asashoryu was called to give statement, and he claimed that he was drunk and could not remember the incident. Some council members remained unconviced. A vote was taken, with the majority favouring dismissal. In the end, a few members, former sumo wrestlers, persuaded Asashoryu to retire. In other words, he was given the uneviable choice of resigning or be fired.

On the same day, another committee recommended that Asashoryu leave the sport. This committee can be translated approximately as the advisory committee on matters relating to yokozuna. Its main function is to recommend a sumo wrestler to the position of yokozuna to the council chairman, however it is often called to advise and comment on the conduct of yokozuna.

Asashoryu was running out of supporters within the institution, and among the wider public. The combination of drunkenness and physical assault was considered too unbecoming for a yokozuna. There is an underlying xenophobia, but Asashoryu had created too many enemies for his behaviour, which was considered immature at best.

Whatever one thinks of Asashoryu’s character and behaviour, it is a shame that such a strong sumo wrestler has to leave the ring in these circumstances.