Sumo Headlines/Sumo News
to keep the Asashoryu news separate from the hon-basho and to create a
file that can be
archived when the story finally concludes, we will track
Asashoryu-related news on this separate page.
hold long awaited press conference; meets with Yokozuna Deliberation
Yokozuna Asashoryu returned safely to Japan yesterday around 3PM and was escorted by his manager and airport officials through the Arrival lobby and into a waiting car at Narita Airport. Dressed in a gray kimono, Asashoryu ignored the press that had gathered in the lobby and headed
straight to the Ryogoku Kokugikan. He was first examined by Doctor Takagi at the Kokugikan's health clinic before holding a press conference with Takasago-oyakata at his side. The Yokozuna's first order of business at the press conference was to stand before the gathering and apologize. "I've caused everyone much concern, and I apologize from the depths of my heart. I am dedicated to continuing to fulfill my duties as a Yokozuna to the best of my ability."
The dialog of questions and answers that proceeded is as follows:
How is your current condition?
"At first, I really lost a lot of muscle mass, but I've been training and am almost at my former level again. My elbow has completely healed. As for my lower back, I'll just have to find that out when I do keiko."
Why did you choose to go back to Mongolia for treatment of your mental illness?
Because it's my home. When first diagnosed, I didn't want to see anybody and just wanted to be alone in my room. At home, though, my parents, my children, and my wife were by my side, and it really helped me settle down mentally. I think that going back to my place of birth was the best medicine for me."
How effective was the onsen treatment?
When I was injured at last year's Natsu basho, I went to that same onsen for treatment. It was something I had done before. I also needed to heal myself mentally first, so I went out to the countryside."
Why did you play soccer in Mongolia?
This year is the 35th anniversary of my country's founding, and I was originally just going to hand t-shirts, but government officials, Mongolian Soccer Federation officials, and officials from the embassy pleaded with me to play, so I did. It was also for my country. But, it's something that I did, and something that I need to take the responsibility for. I was the one at fault the most."
How did you feel about the house arrest punishment?
"I think it was expected. I had to take responsibility."
What were your feelings at that point?
"I love to do sumo, so it was a huge shock for me. Now, however, I'm ready to start over form the beginning."
Most of your punishment was served in Mongolia. What did you do there for treatment?
"For the first month and a half, I needed to heal mentally, so I stayed at the Harahorin onsen. After returning to the city, I began image training and physical training. That's how I've always treated myself. When I look back now, it was a long time, but I didn't waste any time and made good use of it."
Did you do any sumo training in Mongolia?
"It's a completely different feel, but I did do some on top of sand and on top of a mat. There were no other rikishi around, so practiced butsukari-geiko with a big guy. It was good image training for me."
Did you watch any of the sumo broadcasts back in Mongolia?
"I tried to avoid it as much as possible."
How about the jungyo which will begin shortly?
"My feeling is that I just want to do sumo."
How badly do you want to step back onto the dohyo at the Hatsu basho?
"Really bad. That's why I've come back to Japan...to talk to you all and apologize."
Can you post results worthy of a Yokozuna at the Hatsu basho?
"I've done everything to this point so that I'd be ready for the Hatsu basho. And even now, that's the feeling I want to take into the Hatsu basho."
Your dignity as a Yokozuna has been in question.
"I think a Yokozuna is someone greater than just that."
A message to your fans?
"I'm extremely sorry for all the trouble that I've caused and for causing so much concern for so long. I will do my utter best from here on out as a Yokozuna."
Takasago-oyakata also added a few comments, "This is a result of my improper management. From now on, I plan on discussing everything with Asashoryu regardless of what he does. I also hope to lead him so that he builds more character." When asked about the chance of Asashoryu's going back home, the oyakata replied, "For now, I won't allow it."
After the press conference, Asashoryu met with the Yokozuna Deliberation Council. Katsuji Ebizawa, Chairman of the YDC, explained, "He bowed his head and said 'I'm deeply sorry for all of the concern I've caused'. He was very regretful, and if he his willing to start over again then we will
continue to watch over him. I think we have some closure to this incident now." Never to be outdone, token female member of the group, Makiko Uchidate, who called for Asashoryu's retirement back in August, commented, "I'm following the chairman's suggestion to continue to watch over him. I thought he would be more audacious than he was, and he seemed to be sorry in his press conference. I hope he never forgets the way he is feeling today" Asashoryu became the second Yokozuna to ever sit in a meeting with the group with the first being Wakanohana after suffering a make-koshi at the Aki 1999 basho.
Former chairman of the YDC, Hideo Ishibashi, was also asked for his comments. "I accepted his
apology. I think it's best that we all move on and continue to place expectations upon him. I feel as if all of the ill feelings up until now have gone with the wind."
Kitanoumi Rijicho was asked at his stable facilities in Fukuoka about Asashoryu's press conference after he watched the proceedings on television. The commissioner responded, "I think that he does realize how careless his actions were and that he really is sorry for them. When he went home in August, he had a blank stare, but today he speaking very coherently. I think he has recovered from his illness." When asked about expectations for Asashoryu at the Hatsu basho, he answered, "He's a Yokozuna, so his goal should be the yusho." When asked about the Sumo Association's responsibility in handing down the punishment, Kitanoumi replied, "It was very strict, but it is the responsibility of the stable masters to instruct their rikishi." Finally, the commissioner was asked why he didn't attend the press conference in Tokyo, and he answered, "I had other obligations here as a stable master."
Asashoryu departed Mongolia this morning on his way to Narita
Airport. The Yokozuna is seen at right wearing a fur coat to
battle the -17 degree weather in Ulan Bator. He will arrive at
Narita Airport in the late afternoon before making his way to the
Ryogoku Kokugikan. There was some question as to whether or not
Asashoryu would make his connecting flight in Seoul. His plane
from Mongolia was scheduled to land at 11:55 AM with the next plane
departing Seoul at 12:15 PM. Those close to the Yokozuna when
asked for comment on the matter said "All is well." (Picture provided by Kyodo New Service).
Asashoryu forced to
change flight plans
Yokozuna Asashoryu has been forced to change his flight plans for his return to Japan on Friday. The Yokozuna was originally scheduled to return on a direct flight from Mongolia, but press agencies have purchased all of the business class seats on the flight locking the Yokozuna out. Asashoryu will instead fly to Japan with a stopover in Seoul, Korea. He will arrive on the afternoon of the 30th and then once he passes through immigration and customs, he will be escorted to a personal room away from the public. A hair dresser and multiple tsukebito will be waiting in the room so that Asashoryu can be properly groomed and dressed for his meeting with the Yokozuna Deliberation Council and subsequent press conference.
Asashoryu will meet with YDC
after all in a special meeting
It was reported yesterday that Asashoryu will indeed meet with the Yokozuna Deliberation Council on November 30th, the day he will return from Mongolia. Originally, Asashoryu was slated to return November 26th in time for the YDC's usual post-basho meeting, but the Yokozuna delayed his return until the 30th. Several of the Council members expressed their sorrow at the move, but Takasago-oyakata promised that he would have Asashoryu visit them when he returned. The YDC agreed to hold a special meeting on the 30th to accommodate the Yokozuna, but this was before Takasago-oyakata had even spoken to Asashoryu about the matter. After taking a beating in the press for saying that Asashoryu wanted to apologize to the YDC before he had even confirmed this with the Yokozuna, Takasago-oyakata announced this morning that he had indeed spoken to Asashoryu and that the Yokozuna was on board with the meeting on the 30th. "I told him that I wanted him to apologize to the Council at their special meeting, and he replied 'Ok, I understand'." Kitanoumi Rijicho and other high-ranking officials attend the YDC post-basho meetings, but they reportedly will not be in attendance at the special meeting on Friday leaving just Asashoryu and Takasago-oyakata to make the visit. After apologizing to the YDC, Asashoryu will hold a general press conference and reportedly apologize for the disturbance he cause all of his fans.
return date to November 30th, cancels meeting with YDC
Asashoryu had changed his plans once again and will now return to Japan
on November 30th instead of the 26th as previously announced. The former
plan was to have Asashoryu return the Monday after the Kyushu basho and
go straight to the Ryogoku Kokugikan to attend the post-basho Yokozuna
Deliberation Council meeting and apologize to that body, but now he will
miss the meeting. Takasago-oyakata announced Asashoryu's schedule
stating, "He'll come back on the 30th and go straight to the Kokugikan
where he'll apologize to the executive committee members and to the
Exhibition Committee. After that, he will hold a press conference and
apologize. As for the winter exhibitions, he will participate from the
beginning. After that, we'll decide on the Yokozuna's plans after he
returns." Prior to Takasago-oyakata's remarks, four members of the
Exhibition Committee met and issued a statement through Takatagawa-oyakata
stating, "We would like Asashoryu to attend the winter exhibitions. When
the punishment was first handed down, we did state that we wanted to ban
him from the exhibitions forever, but since we both eat from the same
pot..." Apparently, the exhibition committee has been fielding calls
from anxious fans asking whether or not Asashoryu will attend the
events. "We are relieved to hear that Asashoryu will be attending,"
Asashoryu bumps up
return date to November 26th, will meet with YDC
Yokozuna Asashoryu's plans to return to Japan have been finalized. The Yokozuna will return now on November 26th instead of November 30th as originally reported. After arriving at Narita Airport, Asashoryu will head directly to the Ryogoku Kokugikan where he will meet with the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, who will be holding their usual day after meeting. After meeting with the YDC, Asashoryu will hold a general press conference. Kitanoumi Rijicho had stated earlier that the Association did not want him to return during the Kyushu basho due to the distraction it would cause, so when asked for comment, the commissioner offered, "We are now looking at the 26th. As for his press conference, he should announce his return and then apologize to the sumo fans for the big disturbance that he caused."
full workouts; will return to Japan November 30th
Asashoryu's personal manager returned to Japan yesterday and revealed that Asashoryu has resumed full workouts as he looks to gain his prior form. On November 2nd, his manager handed over his practice mawashi and judo gear, and the
Yokozuna promptly began his workouts the next day. He began with a two hour run in the mountains, and then in the afternoon he visited an Ulan Bator wrestling center and practiced with his older brother, a Yokozuna in Mongolian's
version of sumo. Both brothers wore judo outfits as Asashoryu practiced his tachi-ai and throw techniques. The session reportedly lasted 3-4 hours.
Asashoryu's manager also made it clear that the Yokozuna would return back to Japan on November 30th. He plans to hold a press conference the following day, and then he will head to Oita Prefecture to participate in the winter exhibition tournaments. The Yokozuna's manager will head to Fukuoka at the end of this week and give Takasago-oyakata a full report.
implement a little cross training
It was revealed yesterday that Asashoryu will use judo training techniques as he looks to get back into fighting shape before returning to Mongolia. His personal manager, who is heading to Mongolia on November 2nd, said, "He requested that I bring his judo outfits." Before heading to Japan as a high school student to do sumo, Asashoryu dabbled in judo in his home country, and even now he will don the his judo gear and practice throws against tsukebito whom he also has wear the judo digs. The training method is called the Asashoryu special, and he uses it to practice spectacular throws such as tsuri-otoshi. At the end of
September, Asashoryu had begun working out two hours a day, but a sprained ankle hampered those efforts and sent the Yokozuna back to the hot springs resort area for more treatment. As for his return to Japan, Takasago-oyakata insisted that it won't be during the Kyushu basho. "That would create too much of a disturbance," he explained.
to take the Yokozuna's practice mawashi to Mongolia
Asashoryu's personal manager will head to Mongolia again in early November, and this time he says, "I am taking his practice mawashi with me." It was first reported that Asashoryu would return to Japan sometime in late October, but due to an ankle injury suffered in his workouts, the Yokozuna will likely postpone his return to Japan until the end of November. Takasago-oyakata has stated that Asashoryu will not return until he is ready to step back into the keiko ring at full health, and Kitanoumi Rijicho indicated that he didn't have any problem with that train of thought either.
Asashoryu delays his
return, possibly to late November
It is now being reported that Asashoryu will not return back to Japan in late October as originally speculated. In fact, the Yokozuna may not return until after the Kyushu basho. Asashoryu, who has resumed physical workouts in Ulan Bator, has indicated that he wants to return to the
Harahorin hot springs area for more treatment on his left elbow. The said treatment consists of six to seven steps that lasts more than a week and would put Asashoryu back in Japan after the Kyushu basho banzuke is released. The Yokozuna wants to continue his training at home and avoid creating a disturbance during the Kyushu basho itself. Regarding the new development, Takasago-oyakata commented, "I haven't talked to him today, but I'm leaving his treatment up to him. He has not decided when he will come back, but as soon as he does, my plans have not changed to hold a press conference with him to apologize." Asashoryu will be allowed to return to his job in time for the winter exhibitions from December 2nd thru the 4th.
In the meantime, Asashoryu injured his left ankle during workouts last week and called for his personal trainer to come from Japan to assist in his rehabilitation. Those close the Yokozuna reported, "We've heard that he isn't in very good shape. I think it's impossible for him to come back this month. It's no use for him to come back to Japan if he hasn't healed from his injuries."
Asashoryu will not
travel to Fukuoka during the Kyushu basho
It's been reported that Yokozuna Asashoryu began his physical training in Ulan Bator on October 9th. The Yokozuna left the hot springs area of Harahorin on the 8th and traveled back to the capitol to begin his workouts. Asashoryu spent about 3 hours stretching and working out. Takasago-oyakata also reported that Asashoryu will likely return to Japan the week of October 21st, which has everyone speculating on the 24th as direct flights from Mongolia to Japan are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. "I think it's best if we hold a press conference together and apologize before I leave for Kyushu," Takasago-oyakata stated. However, those close to the Yokozuna are saying he still feels pain in his left elbow and that he may return to Harahorin for more treatment.
Asashoryu will not
travel to Fukuoka during the Kyushu basho
Takasago-oyakata revealed today that he will not be taking Asashoryu with him to Kyushu for the November tournament. The Yokozuna is scheduled to return to Japan at the end of October, but rather than have him go to Fukuoka, Asashoryu will stay in Tokyo where he has better access to training and rehabilitation facilities. Asashoryu's personal manager is busy in Tokyo now scouting out facilities, and some say that the Yokozuna could hole himself up at a Buddhist temple somewhere. Regarding
Asashoryu's return to the dohyo, Takasago-oyakata speculated that it would be on December 2nd at an exhibition event in Oita Prefecture. "It will be important to see if he can get his stamina and physical strength back by then," the oyakata explained.
and doctor will travel to Mongolia tomorrow
It was announced today that Asashoryu's personal manager and Dr. Masaki
Honda will head for Mongolia tomorrow. As for the purpose of the visit,
Asashoryu's manager explained, "The purpose of our trip is not for
further treatment nor to finalize a date for his return to Japan." Both
men are scheduled to return by the weekend although it's been reported
that Dr. Honda will return again to Mongolia in October to determine
whether or not Asashoryu is mentally fit enough to come back to Japan.
Despite the manager's
comments, rumors have surfaced that Asashoryu will return sometime
around October 20th or shortly thereafter. Takasago-oyakata also
revealed that Asashoryu will begin physical workouts beginning early
next week. The plan is to have Asashoryu begin to rebuild his
muscles and physical condition. After returning to Japan in
October, the Yokozuna will stay in Tokyo and continue his workouts as
the other rikishi head for Fukuoka to participate in the Kyushu basho.
Takasago-oyakata indicated that he will call Asashoryu early next week
to discuss the details of his training regimen. The Yokozuna
celebrates his 27th birthday on the Thursday.
Asashoryu raves over
Asashoryu is apparently raving over the therapeutic effects of the mud
baths in the Hojirto area of Mongolia where he is currently rehabbing
his injuries. The Yokozuna made a call to some acquaintances in Japan
and asked them to research the contents of the mud baths. It's reported
that he would like the same treatment available to him when he returns
to Japan, and many also view this as an indication of Asashoryu's desire
to return to the sport. At least one member of the Yokozuna Deliberation
Council is against that, however. Makiko Uchidate stated, "He should be
a real man and create his own hanamichi (exit path). If this were
another company, he would have already been forced out. If you have an
employee like this, those at the top would surely let him go." The YDC
Chairman, Shoji Ebizawa, didn't have the same opinion and stated, "As a
council, our attitude is wait and see. Personally, I would like to see
him return to Japan, make an apology for his actions, and then resume
from resort for the first time; begins mud bath treatment
Asashoryu left the Dreamland resort and stepped out in public for the
first time since returning home to Mongolia to treat his stress disorder
and physical injuries. As widely speculated, the Yokozuna made his way
to a hot springs area famous for its therapeutic mud baths about 50
kilometers away from the Harhhorin area where had had been holed up.
Asashoryu was surrounded by a swarm of locals as he entered the Hojirto
area. Takasago-oyakata received word of Asashoryu's movement and
commented, "This is the next step. He's begun treatment of his elbow and
back. I think his mental situation has nearly gotten better." According
to a Mongolian newspaper, Asashoryu spent much of his time at the
Dreamland resort studying English and economics with the assistance of
Doctor Honda talks
about the reasons behind Asashoryu's mental state
The Sports Hochi newspaper sent guest reporter, Sachiyo Nomura,
to sit down and talk one on one with Dr. Masaki Honda, a psychiatrist
who diagnosed Asashoryu and has been involved in his recovery. Dr. Honda
was also part of the group who accompanied Asashoryu to Mongolia. The
following is the dialogue as reported by Sports Hochi:
Sachiyo Nomura: What I want to ask you first, doctor, is how
could a Yokozuna of that magnitude fall prey to a mental illness?
Dr. Honda: The Yokozuna very much regrets having played in that
soccer match after having submitted a doctor's note excusing him from
the summer exhibitions. Regarding the situation, he felt that he first
and foremost owed the Sumo Association an apology. That's why he came
back so soon. He wanted to make his apology and then join the summer
exhibitions. However, he was told that he wasn't welcome at the
exhibitions, he was then given a two basho suspension, and then he was
put under house arrest on top of all that. The fact is it was more than
he was prepared for and caused him to go into a sudden mental
depression. It may seem strange that such a strong Yokozuna would find
himself in that condition, but just as an athlete who is strong
physically can still catch a cold, becoming psychologically distressed
is completely unrelated to one's mental strength.
Sachiyo Nomura: That's the first time I've heard that he wanted
to apologize and then join the summer exhibitions.
Dr. Honda: That's why he came back to Japan. If he wasn't going
to apologize, he just as well could have stayed in Mongolia to treat his
injuries. He intended to apologize and then join the summer exhibitions.
Also, he was under the assumption that he would only be suspended for
one basho. He just went into a panic when he heard that it was a two
basho suspension and house arrest on top of that. At any rate, he
couldn't comprehend the reason for the house arrest punishment from the
Asashoryu progress report given
Asashoryu's personal manager flew to Mongolia yesterday to attend to the Yokozuna's needs and to provide a contact point for Takasago-oyakata, who has come under fire for not providing timely reports regarding Asashoryu's progress. The day before Takasago-oyakata revealed that he had received a report from a Mongolian doctor who is treating Asashoryu for his mental distress condition. According to the doctor, the Yokozuna is convalessing well. Takasago-oyakata also indicated that Asashoryu will likely start treatment on his left elbow and lower back soon at the hot springs located in Hojurto.
Asashoryu says he
A source close to Asashoryu revealed that the Yokozuna has no intentions
of retiring from sumo. "I cannot quit just because of all this," he was
quoted as saying. The source also indicated that the Yokozuna wasn't
interested in the reported approximately 25 million dollar (US) offer
from a mixed martial arts organization to sign with them. "I'm not sure
just how to handle this affair that's gotten out of hand. But even if it
was my fault, I wouldn't quite because of it. I just can't meet anyone
right now, and I have no intentions of talking right now," Asashoryu was
quoted as saying. The Yokozuna was joined at the Dreamland Resort where
he is currently holed up by two of his older brothers who reported
brought in training equipment so the Yokozuna can resume his workouts.
"I still want to yusho," Asashoryu reportedly said. "I will have to
offer an explanation of things, but why do I have to go through this?"
Takasago-oyakata briefly attended a celebration for Hakuho's promotion
to Yokozuna this evening but only stayed long enough to pass along an
"o-iwai" envelope with some cash. Asashoryu's older brother indicated
several days ago that Asashoryu would return to Japan sometime during
the basho, but Takasago-oyakata denied that claim saying, "He won't come
back during the basho. His return date hasn't even been determined," the
oyakata offered before hurrying out of the party. An unnamed director
from the Sumo Association heavily criticized Takasago-oyakata for
failing to offer any report to the board on his brief trip to Mongolia.
"He gave the chief director a report, but that was it. He hasn't even
bothered to say 'hi' to the rest of us."
Asashoryu arrives in Mongolia, escapes gathered media and fans
With other unimportant matters to cover--like pre-basho keiko
reports--the Japanese press followed Asashoryu as far as they could and
thankfully offered details of the flight itself. The plane, which took
off from Narita Airport just after 1:30 PM arrived in Mongolia at 5:50
PM local time. Asashoryu was seated in the front row of business class
on the left side of the plane, and after sitting down, he dropped off to
sleep for the entire flight not bothering to eat or drink anything.
Guards were placed in front of the curtains that divide business class
from economy class and shooed anyone away who tried to catch a glimpse
of the Yokozuna. Takasago-oyakata, who is accompanying Asashoryu on the
trip home, spent some of his time reading a newspaper!
After arriving at Genghis Khan Airport, Asashoryu exited the plane
through a special gate used to escort VIPs and entered a Hummer that was
waiting at the base of the stairs. Takasago-oyakata followed in tow with
neither acknowledging the throng of reporters and fans who had gathered.
The party was then taken by a chartered helicopter to Kharakhorum, the
ancient capital of the Mongol Empire located about 400 kilometers
southwest of Ulan Bator. Asashoryu will be staying with his family at
the Harhorin camp, which is situated near hot springs that are said to
have therapeutic qualities. The camp has been close off to any outsiders
during the Yokozuna's stay.
Asashoryu arrives at Narita
Airport for 1:30 PM direct flight to Mongolia
Rikishi comment on
Asashoryu at all-hands meeting; Hakuho's father criticizes the Japan
The all-hands sekitori meeting was held yesterday at the Ryogoku
Kokugikan where several prominent rikishi were asked their opinions
regarding Asashoryu's release to return home for treatment. Yokozuna
Hakuho said, "He just needs to relax himself if he's going to heal his
injuries. I think his mental anguish is worse than the pain in his
body." Stablemate and newly-promoted Sekiwake, Asasekiryu, said, "He
should be able to relax mentally [at home]" while countryman Kyokutenho
offered, "As a human being, he needs to heal himself mentally." From the
Ozeki ranks, Chiyotaikai seemed to support the Yokozuna saying, "I want
him to come back as soon and as healthy as possible" while Kotooshu's
comments were more stern, "This takes away any meaning to his
Meanwhile, back in Mongolia Hakuho's father criticized the Japanese
press saying, "All of this is the result of the media fanning the
flames. Making him sit out two basho is over the top." As for the
general reaction from the citizens of Mongolia, most are just happy that
Asashoryu is being allowed to return home while some are claiming that
the whole affair was a violation of human rights. One man, however,
countered that view saying, "In Mongolia, people of any status are never
punished, so I think it's great that Japan places such importance on
rules and regulations."
Details emerge regarding
yesterday's meeting of the board and Asashoryu's travel plans
of yesterday's special meeting among the board of directors and other
executive officers have begun to emerge. The meeting started at 11:25 AM
with 14 officials from the Sumo Association in attendance along with the
two doctors who have taken charge of Asashoryu's diagnosis and
treatment. Shuichiro Takaki passed out a two page report outlining
Asashoryu's condition and explained the details to the board for about
20 minutes. Afterwards, there were a few questions, but those in
attendance seemed satisfied with the doctor's responses. After the
presentation, Doctor Takaki and Hiroyuki Yoshida, head of the Sumo
Association's medical clinic, excused themselves from the meeting (at
right) while the higher-ups of the Sumo Association discussed the
possibility of sending Asashoryu back to Mongolia for treatment as
recommended by the doctors. Initially, some in attendance opposed
sending Asashoryu back saying that the priority would be to have
Asashoryu treated in Japan, but Takasago-oyakata came forward and said
that he would accept all responsibility if Asashoryu was allowed to
return home, and this seemed to quell the opposition. In the end, the
decision was unanimous to allow Asashoryu to return home based on the
testimony of the doctors and Takasago's willingness to accept
responsibility. Tomozuna-oyakata, a member of the board, commented
afterwards, "I'm glad that there will be some accountability now."
Kitanoumi Rijicho offered, "The main reason for allowing him to return
home was for his treatment."
As for Asashoryu's return home, it is still under the condition that he
not engage in any irresponsible behavior or he could be kicked out of
the sport altogether. Kitanoumi Rijicho explained, "He is not allowed to
make any public appearances other than the express purpose of receiving
treatment. I know they have a lot of horses there and if he goes out for
exercise that's one thing, but we do not approve of his going to any
bustling area or business district." Takasago-oyakata will accompany
Asashoryu back to Mongolia and won't return until he's satisfied that a
sufficient treatment plan has been put in place. Masaki Honda, a doctor
who examined Asashoryu back on August 5th, will also accompany the
Yokozuna back home it was learned today. Takasago-oyakata also promised
Kitanoumi Rijicho that five oyakata including Wakamatsu (former
Asanowaka) will take turns traveling to Mongolia to monitor the
Yokozuna's condition and report back to the Sumo Association.
Once home, Asashoryu will head to a hot springs area about 400
kilometers from Ulan Bator where it's said that applying a mixture of
the hot water and mineral-enriched soil forms a mud that is famous for
healing wounds when applied to the body in a traditional method of
healing injuries in Mongolia. It has been reported that Asashoryu's
parents will join him and that his wife, Tamil, is already in the hot
springs area making preparations for her husband's arrival.
Asashoryu to return home
tomorrow despite leaked news that he recently paid back taxes
It's official. Yokozuna Asashoryu will return home to Mongolia
tomorrow accompanied by his stablemaster, Takasago-oyakata. The board of
directors gave Asashoryu the approval after a special meeting was called
to discuss the issue again and receive direct reports from the two
doctors who have been closest to Asashoryu's diagnosis and treatment.
Earlier in the day information was leaked to the press that Asashoryu
owed back taxes on income he failed to declare going back as far as
2005, but the news had no effect on the decision. It was learned that
the Tokyo Regional Tax Bureau audited the Yokozuna some time ago and
discovered approximately 110 million yen (about $900,000 US) worth of
income from appearance fees at various events, income from television
commercials, and income from broadcast rights paid to the Yokozuna for
the right to broadcast his wedding. Asashoryu had already paid the back
taxes, which amounted to 30 million yen ($260,000 US), and the Sumo
Association already knew about the issue. Kitanoumi Rijicho commented,
"There is not problem because he restated his income and took care of
the matter." Takasago-oyakata commented, "The stable was unaware of this
issues. We just assumed that he had properly declared all of his
income." Those affiliated with sumo being audited and told to account
for undeclared income is not new.
In June of 1995, Kokonoe-oyakata was ordered to pay back taxes of 55
million yen for income earned between 1990 - 1992; in July of 1996 then
Futagoyama-oyakata was ordered to pay taxes on 300 million yen worth of
undeclared income; Takanohana was ordered to pay back taxes on 90
million yen; and Wakanohana had failed to declare about 26 million yen.
Former Yokozuna Wakanohana I, former Ozeki Kirishima, and even the Sumo
Association itself have all been ordered to pay back taxes in the last
decade. The timing of the leaked news suggests that someone may have
been trying to influence the decision to let Asashoryu go back to
Mongolia, but as widely speculated the last few days, the Yokozuna will
head home tomorrow.
Asashoryu's return to Mongolia on August 29th all but determined
According to insiders within the Sumo Association, Asashoryu will be
returning to Mongolia on August 29th with Takasago-oyakata. The Board of
Directors and other executive officers will meet today to make the
decision official. Doctor Shuichiro Takaki and Hiroyuki Yoshida will
attend the meeting and explain Asashoryu's mental condition to the Sumo
Association officials, but Asashoryu is already booked on the next
direct flight to Mongolia on August 29th. Takasago-oyakata has been
ordered to accompany Asashoryu back to Mongolia and return only after
all arrangements for his treatment have been made. In the meantime,
Takasago-oyakata issued a written apology for his actions and
mishandling of this whole Asashoryu affair. Parts of the statement read,
"Dear fans and everyone involved, I apologize from the depths of my
heart for the huge amount of trouble I have caused you all. My initial
response to this incident was mishandled, and I sincerely regret that my
underestimating this problem caused these events to be dragged out for
so long." As if it mattered, the chairman of the Yokozuna Deliberation
Council also commented to reporters, "We want to see [Asashoryu] return
to his previous form as soon as possible as we also have the
responsibility of making recommendations."
Asashoryu could return home
as early as August 29th
It was learned yesterday that the executive officers of the Sumo
Association will convene on August 28th to hear explanations directly
from the doctors who have treated Asashoryu so far. The meeting will
also satisfy the demands of some of the directors to have Asashoryu
appear and give them an explanation in person. With the release of the
Aki basho banzuke on August 27th, it's been determined that the 28th is
the best time to hold the meeting. If Asashoryu is given approval to
return home to Mongolia for treatment then he could leave Japan as early
as the 29th, a day where there is a direct flight from Narita Airport to
Mongolia. Isenoumi-oyakata commented, "Up to this point, we haven't
received an explanation of Asashoryu's symptoms. Currently, he is
apparently suffering from an emotional disorder, so we need a setting
where the doctors can explain the situation to the directors face to
In recent days, Kitanoumi Rijicho has offered, "Anything decided upon by
the board of directors can be revised by that same board." Reports are
that the director has been leaning towards allowing Asashoryu to go back
home but that a faction of the board members are vigorously opposed to
that scenario. Those opposed have been quoted as saying, "We want
Asashoryu to attend [a meeting with us]. If he can't do that in his
current emotional state, then we need his doctors to explain things to
us. If we don't get such an explanation, we are opposed to his returning
home." If the doctors offer a satisfactory explanation, those opposed
have said that the could reconsider their stance.
Takatagawa-oyakata critical of Takasago-oyakata
In a rare move yesterday, Takatagawa-oyakata spoke out in favor of
Asashoryu while blasting his stablemaster, Takasago-oyakata. Takatagawa-oyakata
reportedly visited Asashoryu at his residence on the 20th and then paid
a visit once again on the 23rd at the hotel where Asashoryu is
reportedly staying. The oyakata heavily criticized the Yokozuna early
on, but has now out saying that enough is enough. "Asashoryu is still
young and has been sanctioned enough. The most to blame for this
incident is Takasago-oyakata. Takasago-oyakata needs to go back to
Mongolia with Asashoryu. He always puts on a good face when he's
scouting there, but when things go wrong he pretends as if nothing has
happened. That's not what I call a stablemaster."
Comment was sought from Takasago-oyakata last night at a pep rally
sponsored by supporters of the stable held at a hotel in Hiratsuka City,
Kanagawa Prefecture. Those affiliated with the stable told the three
television cameras and 50 reports not to bother the event, but
Takasago-oyakata agreed to speak briefly with the press. As for
the rumors that Asashoryu would leave for Mongolia as early as August
25th, Takasago-oyakata denied them saying, "If he did go then, the
repercussions would be severe." When asked about Kitanoumi
Rijicho's slight change of heart on the matter of Asashoryu's going home
for treatment, the oyakata said, "I'm certainly in no position to say
anything about that. I'm also one who is being punished."
Asashoryu has left the
Asashoryu left his apartment for the first time since his punishment of
sitting out two basho was handed down on August 1st. Shortly after 7 PM yesterday evening,
Asashoryu emerged from his apartment building and hopped into a black
SUV. Takasago-oyakata revealed that Asashoryu left his residence to
receive treatment from doctor Shuichiro Takaki at an undisclosed
location. It was learned that Asashoryu would stay the night at wherever
he was headed. While a return to Mongolia this week was nixed by the
Sumo Association's board of directors, Asashoryu may be able to return
home to Mongolia after being treated locally in the short term.
Takasago-oyakata commented, "We're moving him to further his diagnosis
and to give him a change of environment. He will receive concentrated
treatment for the next few days. The Sumo Association acknowledged that
they were aware that Asashoryu had left his residence for treatment but
they declined to say where.
The viewing for former Sadogatake-oyakata, Kotozakura, was held last
night where approximately one thousand people visited to pay their
respects. Kotonowaka and current Sadogatake-oyakata was the official
host of the event, and he commented in his remarks, "I have come to
realize this man's greatness. The thing I remember most about him were
his words, 'if you're injured then treat it with keiko'. I was proud to
be his apprentice. He was a strict man, but get him away from the dohyo,
and he was extremely gentle." Newly-promoted Ozeki, Kotomitsuki,
commented, "My happiest memory was just after I received news of my
promotion to Ozeki and he said, 'yokatta na' (good for you). I know that
he'll be watching over me, so I will continue to give it my all in the
keiko ring." Kotozakura was known for his successful scouting program
and the large number of sekitori he produced. Three of them became Ozeki
while four of his prodigies have taken the Makuuchi yusho.
the proceedings, several sumo officials were asked their opinions on the
Asashoryu matter and whether or not he should be allowed to go back to
Mongolia for treatment. Shoji Ebizawa, Chairman of the Yokozuna
Deliberation Council, commented, "I think they should be serious about
taking the advice of the specialists and their diagnosis." Kitanoumi
Rijicho, however, seemed firm in his stance not to let the Yokozuna
return home. "Isn't there anyone that can get through to Asashoryu?
Can't we bring someone over from Mongolia? I can't say yet that I
approve of his going back. Everyone (on the board of directors) will not
be okay if we let him go home now." Adding to the confusion, the
President of Mongolia reportedly spoke to some Japanese officials at a
formal party in Ulan Baotr saying, "I think it is best if he recovers in
his place of birth, Mongolia. I realize that Japan has there own ways of
doing things, and when in Rome do as Romans do; but they also need to
understand the younger generation."
Rikishi return from the
exhibitions; Asashoryu could be heading to Mongolia this week
The Exhibition season that spanned 17 days ended today with the rikishi
returning home to the Ryogoku Kokugikan via bus from Gunma Prefecture.
Kyokutenho was asked about fellow countryman, Asashoryu, and the former
Sekiwake responded, "Once we've settled in, I'd like to go and talk to
him. All of the rikishi are back now, and I think that will help change
his mood. That'd be nice if his fellow Mongolian rikishi could buoy him
up. I want him to get well soon."
Kyokutenho may not get his wish, however, as reporters have already
camped out at Narita Airport in anticipation that Asashoryu could be
leaving for Mongolia any day now. The two doctors appointed by the Sumo
Association's board of directors held a press conference and both were
of the opinion that Asashoryu needed to go back to Mongolia in order to
receive the best treatment. Several directors have voiced their fierce
opposition to Asashoryu's going home, but the Association has been
drawing more and more criticism for the imposed house arrest
restrictions placed against Asashoryu, and now if they defy their own
doctors' orders regarding the mental health of one of their rikishi, the
backlash could be overwhelming.
diagnosis revealed; doctors recommend his return to Mongolia
Hiroyuki Yoshida, head of the Sumo Association's medical clinic,
announced today that Yokozuna Asashoryu has been diagnosed as suffering
from a dissociative disorder, and Yoshida also revealed that he
recommended to Takasago-oyakata that Asashoryu be sent home to Mongolia
for treatment. The actual diagnosis was performed by a new doctor,
Shuichiro Takaki, at the request of the Sumo Association.
Takasago-oyakata took the findings and reported them to Kitanoumi
Rijicho. Yoshida commented at a press conference, "Asashoryu shows no
spontaneous behavior, and he is in a state of stupor severely lacking
any self motivation." The two doctors also discussed the two
possibilities for treatment--hospitalization in Japan or returning home
to Mongolia--but Yoshida-san explained his reasons for recommending that
Asashoryu be allowed to return home, "If he were to stay here, it would
create an environment where he is completely surrounded and detained by
the media, so it's hard to believe that that would contribute to his
getting better. The best method of treatment is to place him in an
environment where he is most comfortable." Takasago-oyakata also seemed
to soften his stance a bit saying, "Well, we could choose to send him
home after some treatment here. Based on this diagnosis, I will request
that the directors convene to discuss the issue [of sending him home]."
Kitanoumi Rijicho's initial reaction was, "The directors had already
determined our stance on this, but we will re-examine our view based on
the opinions and direction from the doctors."
Kotozakura's last words and
thoughts were of Asashoryu
It was learned yesterday that on his death bed former Sadogatake-oyakata's
final thoughts and words were directed towards Asashoryu. Though
Asashoryu's senior of some 40 years, and even though they didn't even
belong to the same Ichimon, the former Sadogatake-oyakata was always
fond of Asashoryu. The former Yokozuna, Kotozakura, commented to his
prodigy and current Sadogatake-oyakata, Kotonowaka, that he hoped
Asashoryu would recover as soon as possible and make it back to the
dohyo as strong as ever. Kotonowaka, who was visiting his former master
when he died, commented, "He has been concerned about the Yokozuna from
the beginning [of this ordeal]. He told me that if Asashoryu is injured,
he wants him to heal as soon as possible and return to the dohyo." The
former Sadogatake-oyakata would watch television for updates on
Asashoryu every day from his hospital bed and comment to family members
'what's going to become of all this?'.
Asashoryu seemed to hold an equal affection for Sadogatake-oyakata. Back
in 2005 just prior to the Kyushu basho, a meeting of all past and
present Yokozuna was held. At the time, Sadogatake-oyakata's left leg
was giving him problems and he was having a hard time moving around.
Asashoryu bent over at the former Yokozuna's feet and meticulously
polished his shoes. The former Sadogatake-oyakata also explained at the
time, "He took me by the shoulder and would help me to my feet. There
has never been a Yokozuna who was as kind, who had empathy for others,
who showed concern for others, and felt as great a responsibility as
Asashoryu." The former oyakata was always thrilled when Asashoryu would
show up at his stable for de-geiko and would call out thanking him for
coming. Asashoryu always returned the respect and praised the oyakata
for his keiko facilities. According to those close to Asashoryu, he has
yet to learn of the former Yokozuna's death, but they say in his current
condition, it is unlikely that Asashoryu will attend Kotozakura's
Ministry of Education
critical of Sumo Association's handling of Asashoryu incident; Asashoryu
welcome at Kotozakura's funeral
Fumiaki Ibuki, the official at the Ministry of Education who governs the
Sumo Association, held a press conference today following his Cabinet
Meeting. Ibuki-san expressed his concern over the manner in which the
Sumo Association has handled the Asashoryu incident. "It is important
that the Sumo Association handle the daily affairs regarding Yokozuna
Asashoryu including his understanding of Japanese culture. Currently,
nothing has been resolved because everyone has been avoiding the issue
and treating him as the bad guy. Up until now, the Association has been
handling this like a boil on their skin. I think the members of the
Association have got to be a little bit more up front about things."
Meanwhile, Isenoumi-oyakata, head of the Lifestyle Management Committee,
commented today that Asashoryu would be more than welcome to attend the
funeral proceedings for the former Sadogatake-oyakata, Kotozakura. "That
would be great. It would give him a chance to get out, and I think his
offering of a stick of incense would be appreciated." Recently,
Asashoryu had been visiting the Sadogatake-beya for de-geiko prior to
the major tournaments prompting the late Kotozakura to once proclaim,
"It's admirable that even though he's a Yokozuna, he comes for de-geiko.
I'm thrilled that he visits." Isenoumi-oyakata further emphasized that
Asashoryu is not exactly confined to his residence, "We don't' care if
he does everyday things like visit the keiko-ba or soak in an onsen."
Asashoryu not to go home without permission; Asashoryu's doctor roulette
It was learned yesterday that Takasago-oyakata would submit Asashoryu's
retirement papers to the Sumo Association without consulting the
Yokozuna if Asashoryu returned to Mongolia without receiving permission.
"I've already told him if he break his house arrest it will be a huge
deal. And of course that includes going back to Mongolia. I think he's
aware of the situation," Takasago-oyakata commented. According to those
close to the Yokozuna, he wants nothing more than to go home to
Mongolia. Takasago-oyakata also acknowledged that Asashoryu has told him
in their three face to face meetings that he wants to go home, but the
oyakata has taken the stance that Asashoryu can receive the same
treatment in Japan. The only way Asashoryu would be able to go back home
is if the Sumo Association permitted. Takasago-oyakata said that he
sternly warned his Yokozuna that there won't be a next time. Precedent
of having a shisho, or stable master, retire a rikishi against his will
was set in 1987when Tatsunami-oyakata submitted the paperwork to
then Yokozuna, Futahaguro, banned from the sport.
Takasago-oyakata spent his day paying his respects to his former masters
as he visited the graves of former Yokozuna, Asashio, the fifth
generation Takasago-oyakata; former Komusubi Fujinishiki, the 6th
generation Takasago-oyakata; and former Sekiwake, Fusanishiki, the 10th
generation Wakamatsu-oyakata. Takasago-oyakata reportedly bowed his head
and apologized to his predecessors for allowing all of this to happen on
his watch. "I just want Asashoryu to return to his normal self as
quickly as possible and be able to hold a press conference."
On the same day, Asashoryu received a visit from a psychiatrist, Masaki
Honda, who examined the Yokozuna for about an hour at Asashoryu's
apartment. It was reported, however, that Takasago-oyakata was not aware
that Honda would visit. "Ask him yourself," Honda replied to reporters
who questioned whether or not he should be visiting Asashoryu. This was
the second visit by the psychiatrist, and he reported that nothing had
changed since he last visited the Yokozuna on the 5th, but according to
some close to the Yokozuna, Asashoryu is becoming more aggressive and
hostile towards those around him. Honda is the doctor who recommended
that Asashoryu be returned home to Mongolia as part of his treatment.
Hiroyuki Yoshida, the head of the Sumo Association's medical clinic, has
scheduled another appointment for a different psychiatrist to visit
Asashoryu on the 17th. After receiving that diagnosis, Yoshida said that
he will decide what course of action to take next. Adding to all the
confusion, Takasago-oyakata stated on the 13th that he would have
Yasushi Imasaka be the sole provider of Asashoryu's mental care. Imasaka
is the one who diagnosed Asashoryu as suffering from acute stress
disorder on August 6th. Imasaka is currently out of the country and will
return on the 16th.
Japanese soccer star,
Hidetoshi Nakata, blogs about Asashoryu events
Japan soccer star, Hidetoshi Nakata, posted a message on his personal
website telling Asashoryu to hang in there. Nakata was a participant
with Asashoryu in the now infamous soccer match in Mongolia that led to
the Yokozuna's current situation. This is a direct translation from
Nakata's blog on his website nakata.net:
Honestly, from point of view I don't know what is real and what is
false, but was Asashoryu really faking any injuries? Asashoryu never
admitted to faking his injuries, but it's as if the press has already
made the judgment that we was. It's hard to imagine that a person who
was active enough to just win a yusho would make the claim that he has
the sort of injury that would make him unable to walk. It's completely
acceptable to think that a Yokozuna would take a wait and see approach
regarding the exhibitions in order to heal from his injuries and prepare
to fight as a worthy Yokozuna the next basho.
There's no denying he was injured, so what if he went back to Mongolia
to heal from his injuries? The serious injury was to his elbow but what
if it wasn't bad enough to prevent him from playing a little soccer with
some kids? And so what if he felt it was okay to participate in the
charity event for the kids because both the Mongolian and Japanese
governments made the request, I was scheduled to participate, and it was
for the good of both countries and the children?
I had no idea that he was missing the exhibition events, but he told me
after the event that his arm was really bothering him. He even looked in
pain as he reached for his plates over dinner. He said that he came back
to Mongolia to receive treatment and that there was a good onsen (hot
springs) in the area that helped the problem.
I realize there was a problem with Asashoryu's behavior that led to some
misunderstanding, but from my point of view as an outsider in all of
this, the only conclusion that I can reach is that the media is taking
this opportunity to lynch Asashoryu. They don't really know the world of
sumo, and they can't really say whether or not he's worthy to be a
Yokozuna. It's not their place to make these kinds of comments. It's not
as if they can't understand the concept that it isn't just enough for a
Yokozuna to be strong.
He has 21 yusho, and he carried the Japan Sumo Association on his back
as a lone Yokozuna and as a Mongolian. No one can deny what a superior
athlete his is and the records he has set. I wish everyone would rethink
things about him, and I wish people wouldn't let themselves be swayed so
much by the media and the opinions of others.
In conclusion, if I may call him my friend, I can't wait to see
Asashoryu defeat his current troubles and return to the dohyo and as one
of the strongest Yokozuna ever.
Hang in there, Asashoryu!!
Kotozakura, dies; Sumo Association explains Asashoryu's punishment to
Ministry of Education
Former Sadogatake-oyakata, Kotozakura, died this evening at a hospital
in Chiba Prefecture. The cause of death was cited as complete organ
failure due to an infection in his blood. The former Yokozuna fell ill
on August 9th complaining of stomach pain and was admitted to a hospital
in Chiba. He went under the knife this morning, and doctors pronounced
the surgery successful, but in the evening, his condition suddenly
deteriorated causing his organs to fail. The former Yokozuna died
shortly after 6 PM.
Born Norio Kamatani, Kotozakura first set foot on the dohyo at the 1959
Hatsu basho. He reached the Makuuchi division in Haru 1963 and was
promoted to Ozeki after the 1967 Aki basho. Kotozakura was known for his
fierce attack from the tachi-ai and powerful nodowa thrusts that earned
him the nickname "Mogyu" or ferocious bull. Shortly after his promotion
to Ozeki, however, he suffered from a string of injuries that led to
less than stellar results prompting the derogatory nickname "Uba-zakura"
or Old-man Zakura. Despite his injuries, Kotozakura took the yusho at
the 1972 Kyushu basho and 1973 Hatsu basho earning him promotion to the
Yokozuna rank at the age of 32, the oldest rikishi ever to have achieved
Yokozuna promotion. He became the 53rd Yokozuna in the sport's modern
history. His tenure at Yokozuna only lasted 8 basho, but he managed to
save face by winning the yusho as a Yokozuna. Kotozakura enjoyed 5
career yusho before retirement.
After retirement, he assumed the Sadogatake-beya and immediately built
up a network of scouts nationwide that made him one of the most
successful recruiters in the last 30 years. Kamatani-san raised two
Ozeki in Kotokaze (current Oguruma-oyakata) and Kotooshu as well as
countless sekitori rikishi over the years. As part of the Sumo
Association, the former Sadogatake-oyakata served as head of the Judging
Committee before retiring at the end of 2005 and leaving his stable to
Kotonowaka, the current Sadogatake-oyakata. Viewing and funeral
arrangements have yet to be determined.
Sumo Association attempts to justify Asashoryu house arrest punishment
Meanwhile, yesterday the Sumo Association dispatched Isenoumi-oyakata,
head of the Association's Lifestyle Management Committee, to visit
Toshiaki Endo of the Ministry of Education (the non-profit Sumo
Association is governed by the Ministry of Education) to explain
Asashoryu's punishment. There have been complaints that have surfaced in
the press that Asashoryu's house arrest is an unfair denial of his
humanitarian rights. The Sumo Association explained through Isenoumi-oyakata,
"Until the end of senshuraku of the Kyushu basho, we have stipulated
that Asashoryu remain confined to his residence unless he visits either
the Takasago-beya or a hospital for treatment. These limits will not be
enforced if there is a special reason."
Takasago-oyakata dashes any
hope of Asashoryu press conference
visited Asashoryu at his apartment twice today for the second time in as
many days. After his visit yesterday which lasted 90 minutes, the
oyakata announced that Asashoryu would soon be able to hold a press
conference to address his fans and apologize for his actions. Today at 3
PM, he went back to the Yokozuna's apartment for an hour and twenty
minute visit after which he returned to the Sumo Association offices
only to head back to Asashoryu's apartment again. The second visit only
lasted 13 minutes with Takasago-oyakata leaving the Yokozuna's apartment
exasperated by the situation. Arriving at the Association offices around
5 PM, Takasago-oyakata held another press conference. "I wanted the
Yokozuna to address you all, but he is still not in a state of mind to
do so. Yesterday, he appeared quite relaxed, but it seems to hit in
waves. We need to take care of his mental state, his back, and then his
elbow before he meets the press." Takasago-oyakata revealed that
Asashoryu would begin both physical and mental treatment from home
starting early next week. "It seems as if I just don't have the strength
to turn him around myself." The press and tabloid shows continue to
provide daily updates on the Yokozuna's condition, but little seems to
have changed since the Association announced his punishment. "It's not
as if he committed a crime. It was just a little...no a big mistake that
he made that led to this sort of criminal punishment from the
Takasago-oyakata meets with
the press again; Former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries criticizes
announced this morning that Yokozuna Asashoryu has been diagnosed as
suffering from acute stress disorder (ASD). On the night of August 6th,
a psychiatrist designated by the Sumo Association visited Asashoryu and
performed an examination of the Yokozuna's condition. That same
psychiatrist contradicted the report of a previous doctor who said
Asashoryu was suffering from depression. The findings of the diagnosis
will be reported to Kitanoumi Rijicho, who is taking time off and will
be back on the job August 9th. Takasago-oyakata commented regarding his
prodigy, "I want to wait for a day or two and then talk to him again.
Right now we just need to get Asashoryu settled down and relaxed. The
best thing for him would be to enter the hospital, but that would cause
too much of a stir at this point."
Hirosuke Yoshida, head of the Sumo Association's medical clinic, added,
"It's not good to leave him by himself in this condition. He either
needs to be hospitalized or returned to Mongolia. His face is
expressionless, and he's not talking. I don't think he's eating enough
either. His returning back to Mongolia would at least pull him out of
this state." Regarding the possibility and suggestion from several that
Asashoryu should return home to Mongolia for some rest, Takasago-oyakata
commented, "I don't dare suggest that from my mouth."
The examination of Asashoryu lasted about 30 minutes, and according to
Yoshida, Asashoryu had been biding his time all day sitting on a sofa
with the curtains closed and watching a television with the sound turned
off. "It's hard to generate a pinpoint analysis in such a short time,
but I can tell you he is not faking this." Takasago-oyakata also added
that he would like the opinion of several specialists but that it ws
ultimately up to the Sumo Association's board of directors to decide
what Asashoryu can and cannot do.
Yoshinobu Shimamura, a friend of Asashoryu's and the former Minister of
Agriculture and Fisheries, visited the Yokozuna at his residence
yesterday and presented him with some expensive sushi from Osaka.
Asashoryu reportedly only said, "sorry to cause you the trouble" at
seeing his friend. Shimamura-san described the scene of Yokozuna's large
living room as, "He just sat there not moving on the sofa with his eyes
closed. He didn't have any tea nearby which is very rare for him as he
eat and drinks about 10 times more than the regular person. He wore a
black t-shirt, and his mage was limp and disheveled. I couldn't even
smell the binzuke oil anymore. It's the first time I've ever seen the
Yokozuna like that." Shimamura-san continued, "When his eyes were open,
he would just stare at the same place. In my various occupations, I've
had to decipher people's expressions and their state of mind, but this
case looks extremely serious. I was at his place for about 30 minutes,
and each 10 minutes seemed to drag on for 2 -3 hours."
Shimamura-san also told the story about when the top referee, Kimura
Shonosuke, retired, Asashoryu waited in the hanamichi for the him to
come and then handed him the kensho envelopes he had won that day saying
"gokurosama" or job well done. "We've never had a Yokozuna like him.
That's Japanese culture right there. Are we just going to sit here and
confine him to this? If he is damaged permanently from this, then it is
a humanitarian problem. Banning him for two basho is too extreme. How
long can a person be expected to perform keiko without a purpose? Yes,
he is a foreigner, but he's also a human being. I see that we still have
a closed-door policy when it comes to Japan's national sport."
Takasago-oyakata meets with
Asashoryu face to face, holds press conference
met with Asashoryu face to face today for the first time since the Sumo
Association announced on August 1st that the Yokozuna would be forced to
sit out the next to basho and would also have his pay cut by 30% for the
next four months. The days following the announcement were filled with
rumor and speculation alleging that Asashoryu was taking tranquilizers,
watching a television set all day with the sound turned down, and acting
schizophrenic. Takasago-oyakata finally met with his prodigy for about
15 minutes and shed light on the situation afterwards with the media.
"He seemed completely worn out. I usually can't get him to shut up, but
he hardly talked with me and only usually responded to my questions with
'ganbaru' (I'll do my best)." When asked if Asashoryu had any
apologies for his fans, he stated, "It will be impossible for him to
hold a press conference until he gets better." When asked what advice he
gave Asashoryu, Takasago-oyakata responded, "I told him that if he just
gives up now, then he has lost. You need to patiently wait this out and
do your best." On August 5th, Asashoryu was examined by a psychiatrist
who said the Yokozuna showed signs of depression, but the oyakata
refused to comment on the matter. Speculation has also arisen that
Asashoryu has requested and was advised by his doctors that he would do
better recovering in Mongolia, but Takasago-oyakata denied any such
rumors saying, "Neither Asashoryu nor myself have given any indication
whatsoever that he should go back to Mongolia." Takasago-oyakata wrapped
up the session by saying that he has requested through the Sumo
Association's doctors that a re-evaluation of Asashoryu's mental state
by performed. He will then take those findings and report them to
press conference; Asashoryu taking medication
met with the press today to discuss the situation surrounding Asashoryu.
"Just as soon as he says he's okay, he turns around and says maybe it's
all hopeless. I'm just praying that he doesn't retire." Takasago-oyakata
indicated that he hasn't yet spoken to his prodigy face to face but that
he is receiving from affiliates from the stable. The oyakata also
revealed, "He has also been taking tranquilizers to settle down his
nerves. Right now he's really uneasy to the point where he can't grasp
the severity of the punishment." The oyakata was also frank in his
thoughts the the punishment was too severe for a Yokozuna who has been
carrying the sport for 4 1/2 years and who has taken the yusho 21 times.
"It's as if all of his work and effort until now have been ignored
leaving him to ask why. He just can't settle himself down right now, but
when he's ready and of a positive mindset again, I will have him hold a
Sumo Association phones
ringing off hook
punishment was announced by the Sumo Association, all 30 phones in the
Sumo Association offices have been ringing off the hook. According to
the staff, they are receiving opinions from both sides...some saying the
ruling was too harsh and some saying it was too light. They estimate
that it's about 50-50 as to what stance people are taking. Furthermore,
fans are also giving strict suggestions beyond just the Asashoryu
incident saying things like "Not only Asashoryu, but Kitanoumi Rijicho
and the other officials should all resign", "this is unfortunate now
that we have two Yokozuna", and "we're rooting for Asashoryu to overcome
Reaction to Asashoryu's
Asashoryu remained holed up at his residence after the announcement came
down that he would be banned from fighting in the next two basho and
would also receive a 30% paycut for four months. Instead of visiting the
hospital for treatment, he summoned a doctor to the house instead. As
the doctor left the residence, he commented to the press, "Asashoryu
said that he still wants to do sumo. He likes Japan, and he likes the
Japanese people. He says he loves sumo and that he is still going to do
his best when he gets back." Asashoryu's mentor, Takasago-oyakata, did
offer some comments to the press. "Asashoryu and myself will once again
restudy some things. I told him the punishment over the phone, and he
seemed quite troubled. There are things in the past that I have probably
overlooked regarding his behavior, so in the future if we're in this
situation again, I'll grab him by hairs on his neck and reel him back
The three major players in the incident all offered statements as
Asashoryu - "Of course I accept the punishment. As I
rehabilitate, I will prepare for the Winter exhibitions and next year's
Takasago-oyakata - "I accept the punishment. We will do our best
so that his 21 yusho are not put to waste. [The next time he tries to go
home to Mongolia] I will grab him by the hairs on his neck and bring him
back. He must now focus on healing his injuries. I will offer my support
to him. I want to make this all a positive."
Kitanoumi Rijicho - "The punishment is valid. The Yokozuna must
learn that others are constantly watching his actions. Asashoryu is very
disappointed I'm sure, but I want him to rededicate himself again."
Timeline of previous behavioral incidents from Asashoryu:
Nagoya 2003: Asashoryu is disqualified from his bout against Kyokushuzan
on day 5 after grabbing a fistfull of Shu's hair and yanking him to the
dirt. The Yokozuna broke the mirror of Kyokushuzan's car as he left the
venue and got into a verbal squabble with Kyokushuzan in the locker roon
on day 8.
December 2003: Asashoryu secretly returns home to Monglia and is absent
for the funeral of the former Takasago-oyakata
Natsu 2006: Asashoryu withdraws from the tournament on day 3 but is seen
in the locker room on day 7 seeking signatures from his fellow rikishi
in support of an exhibition tournament in Mongolia.
Haru 2007: Asashoryu knees Kisenosato after he's down in their day 8
bout. On day 10 after a loss to Aminishiki, Asashoryu kicks a zabuton
out of his way while walking down the hanamichi.
Mongolia Exhibition put on hold for now
The Nikkansports Shimbun reported yesterday that the Sumo
Association is now reconsidering its prior plans to hold an exhibition
tournament in Mongolia in August 2008 as punishment for Yokozuna
Asashoryu's recent disregard for local exhibitions. Takekuma-oyakta who
visited Mongolia a month ago and has been actively working on the
logistics of the tournament, commented, "We won't consider such an
exhibition until all of this trouble ceases. The reality of a Mongolian
Exhibition now is in more doubt than ever." The newspaper quoted others
within the Exhibition Tournament Committee anonymously, "He is taking
too lightly the second pillar of our sport, the exhibitions. Going out
of our way and holding an exhibition for that kind of Yokozuna is
Asashoryu to miss the next
two basho and receive a 30% pay cut for four months
An unprecedented punishment to an active rikishi was handed down to Asashoryu this afternoon as the Sumo Association announced it will force the Yokozuna to sit out the next two basho as well as take a 30% pay cut over the next four months. Asashoryu's stablemaster, Takasago-oyakata, was also punished to the tune of a 30% reduction in his stable allowance for four months. Details leading up to the astonishing punishment handed down are in the article below.
Asashoryu to face
punishment for allegedly faking injuries
The board of
directors for the Sumo Association will hold a special meeting today to
discuss possible punishments to be levied against Yokozuna Asashoryu and
his oyakata for allegedly submitting inaccurate medical diagnosis forms
along with kyujo papers in an effort to skip out on the summer
exhibition tours. The medical forms suggested that Asashoryu's left
elbow was bad enough that it required surgery, and they also listed a
strained lower back. Asashoryu submitted the forms obtained from a
hospital in Mie Prefecture shortly after the conclusion of the Nagoya
basho and then went home to Mongolia to receive treatment and recover.
Reports surfaced in the press later in that week that the Yokozuna would
miss most if not all of the exhibition events; however, shortly
thereafter, footage was obtained that showed the Yokozuna energetically
participating in a soccer event back home attended by Japanese soccer
star, Nakata. The Yokozuna's actions were inconsistent with his reported
injuries leading to a firestorm in the Japanese press asserting that
Asashoryu had lied to the Association and faked his injuries to get out
of exhibition duties.
Yokozuna was ordered to return from Mongolia on July 30th and joined by
Takasago-oyakta immediately visited Kitanoumi Rijicho to explain himself
and apologize for the incident. Asashoryu was noticeably upset over the
incident and only commented to reporters, "I apologize for my actions. I
will receive treatment in Japan and give it my all next basho."
Takasago-oyakta also commented, "He was asked to attend the soccer event
by the Mongolian government, but that still doesn't excuse his actions.
Along with Asashoryu, I must offer my sincere apologies because I
allowed him to submit those kyujo papers as well." When Kitanoumi
Rijicho was asked for comment, he simply responded, "I have no comments
because it will only invite more misunderstanding." At a minimum, the
board of directors is expected to fine both the Yokozuna and deduct the
amount of money given each month to the Takasago-beya itself for
possible up to six months, but speculation is that the Yokozuna may even
be forced to sit out the upcoming Aki basho. One un-named director
commented, "He is making light of our national sport along with his
stablemaster by showing disregard for the exhibitions. I don't think a
cut in pay is sufficient." Another director anonymously commented,
"We've got to be strict this time or the message won't be received. I
think there will be those who will call for him to sit out the next
In the meantime, the committee in charge of exhibitions convened on July
27 and determined that Asashoryu would be banned from participating in
exhibition events due to his actions. Oshima-oyakata stated, "We
received a medical note that said he required 6 weeks of recovery time,
but we do not need his attendance at our events even beyond that time
scope." Takasago-oyakata had said when Asashoryu first withdrew from the
planned exhibition events that the Yokozuna could attend later on if his
injuries healed properly, but Takadagawa-oyakata, one of the directors
in the association, stated, "Even if he wants to attend now, we don't
want him. In the 200 year history of sumo, exhibition events have been
just as important as hon-basho. Giving special exemptions just because
one is a Yokozuna is inexcusable. In fact, for the time being he doesn't
need to bother. We will not stand for selfishness on the Yokozuna's part
where he comes and goes as he pleases." The committee is moving towards
a temporary ban on Asashoryu from attending any exhibition events even
beyond the summer season. Takasago-oyakata responded to the exhibitions
committee's stance by saying, "I'm still going to encourage him to
Also being drawn into the mess is the Yotsukaichi City Hospital in Mie
Prefecture, which provided the Yokozuna with the initial health results
that cited the injuries. The hospital has been overwhelmed with requests
from the press and other inquiries to the point where normal hospital
operations have been affected, so in a seldom-seen scenario, the
hospital issued a statement revealing the Yokozuna's condition: the
focal point of the first injury is the lower back area. [The patient]
was previously diagnosed with a stress fracture to the fifth lumbar
vertebra, and the patient complained of serious pain in the area. The
next injury was a sprain to the anterior colateral ligament in the left
elbow and severe pain in the joint bone of the same arm. After x-raying
the joint, we determined the injury was serious enough to require
surgery to heal properly. Due to the previous occurrence of injury and
the patient's complaint of serious pain, 6 weeks of rest and recovery
Asashoryu visited a Tokyo hospital on July 31 to undergo more
examinations where it was determined that neither hospitalization nor
surgery on his left elbow were necessary. They indicated that he could
just receive his treatment by making periodic outpatient visits.
Takasago-oyakata stated, "I don't think we will go through with the
operation. We'll continue to have him rehab daily here. I will not let
him go back to Mongolia though." The Mongolian government also stepped
forward to offer a formal apology through the Mongolian embassy. They
apologized for asking Asashoryu to do too much and explained that a
charity event was being held to benefit children, and when they learned
that the Yokozuna had come home, they asked him to participate. "We were
told by Asashoryu that he had come home for treatment, but we persuaded
him to promise to attend. We offer our sincerest apologies to the Nihon
Sumo Kyokai and to Asashoryu for causing so much confusion."
The entire saga has created a media firestorm, and the Association has
reportedly been flooded by complaints and demands for refunds from
paying customers in all 17 cities scheduled on the exhibition tour.