Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sumo Wrestler Asashoryu Quits

Here in Texas, the half-joke is that football is the state religion. Sumo in Japan is one step up from that: originally it did serve a religious aspect and was incorporated into Shinto ceremonies. For example, all the stomping around helped scare demons away from places about to be blessed or show humans wrestling with spirits and gods.

To this day, the sumo world is a very tight, very conservative society: wrestlers are largely expected to be quiet, obedient, humble and well-behaved. One who has never been very good at that is the Mongolian-born Asashoryu 朝青龍, who became famous as a yokozuna 横綱, the highest level of sumo wrestler, while I lived over there a few years ago and by wins is the third-best sumo wrestler of all time.

He was always in the papers, either for his amazing wrestling or his acting up out of the ring: illegally pulling the hair of a competitor, pretending to have a hurt ankle only to get caught playing soccer, etc.

Despite his rock-star status in the sport, last month he finally went one step too far for his elders, allegedly getting into a drunken fight outside a Tokyo nightclub and breaking a guy's nose. Today, when summoned for questioning by the Japanese Sumo Association board, he turned in his resignation and apologized for all the trouble he's caused.

Image copyright petra_langader1

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