Japan’s sumo world was rocked today by the announcement that Mongolian wrestler Asashoryu, the top-ranked yokozuna (Grand Champion) in the sport, would be retiring to take responsibility for an incident in which he got drunk and punched an employee at a drinking establishment. This was far from the only time the sumo star has been in trouble: he’d also been reprimanded for brawling with other wrestlers privately and was photographed playing soccer back home in Mongolia while he was supposed to be on medical leave for a back injury. One of the biggest problems with the wrestler, from the Japanese point of view, was that he lacked the hinkaku (dignity) that’s expected in a person of that rank, yet Asashoryu refused to accept Japanese-style humility, often striking a “guts pose” after a tournament win and preferring a large Hawaiian shirt to his official sumo wrestler yukata while in public. Asashoryu was one of the strongest wrestlers the sport had ever seen, with an unprecedented 25 tournament victories in his 11-year career.
Asashoryu’s name always makes me think of a Street Fighter special attack.