(AFP) – Jul 18, 2008
TOKYO (AFP) — Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu, the fifth-ranked wrestler in modern sumo history, abruptly pulled out Friday from the current tournament after a weak start.
The "yokozuna" grand champion complained that he was in poor physical condition, a Japan Sumo Association spokesman said without elaborating further.
Jiji Press reported he was diagnosed with a damaged ligament in the left elbow and needed about three weeks of treatment.
"I feel sorry for my fans," the 27-year-old Mongolian told reporters with his left arm in a sling.
Asashoryu, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, opened the tournament in the central Japanese city of Nagoya with a defeat and lost another bout Thursday, which was only the fifth day of the 15-day competition.
"Nothing has gone well," Asashoryu mumbled after being sent to the ground in Thursday's bout against Tochinonada. He hurt the elbow in this bout, Jiji said.
Japanese sports tabloids harshly reviewed the match, with the Nikkan Sports publishing a column saying the yokozuna was clearly weakening.
"He lost two bouts in the early stage of the tournament. He is not the same Asashoryu we saw before," the column said.
Asashoryu, despite his success in the ring, has been a controversial figure for his abrasive remarks and manners, which Japanese traditionalists say does not fit the ideal of a taciturn grand champion.
The Mongolian returned to the ring in January after being suspended from two bi-monthly tournaments when he played a charity football match despite skipping a provincial non-competition tournament citing injuries.
The Sports Nippon said Asashoryu was also distracted by speculation that a first-ever sumo tour of Mongolia, which the grand champion has pushed for eagerly, may be postponed.
The tour was scheduled for next month. But the report said it may be postponed due to safety concerns.
Five people were killed in violent riots in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator earlier this month after allegations of fraud in parliamentary elections.
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