”I have two hearts beating in my body -- Mongolia gave me birth and Japan fostered me,” Asashoryu says after bidding the ring farewell

Asashoryu, the 68th Yokozuna or Grand Champion of sumo, bade formal farewell to the ring on Sunday at a ceremony organized by The Japanese Sumo Association in Tokyo. Among those present to watch his topknot cut in a ritual to officially end his controversial career were Prime Minister S.Batbold and other Mongolians.

More than 300 people, ranging from a professional boxer to a television personality, each cut a tiny portion of his knot with a large pair of gold-colored scissors on the ring under the glare of fans and media. Asashoryu, who quit the sport in February, sat rigid and shut his eyes tight when his stablemaster Takasago chopped off the final strand.

"I have two hearts beating in my body -- Mongolia gave me birth and Japan fostered me. I love these two countries most," the 30-year-old Mongolian said on the ring to huge cheers from fans after he parted with the knot. He saluted the fans as he left the ring. He kissed its side and raised both hands in the air before leaving the arena.

After the ceremony, Asashoryu, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, told reporters he wanted to be "reborn as a Japanese".

"It"s my dream to become a yokozuna as a Japanese," he said, using the Japanese word for a grand champion.

He won enthusiastic followers with his "bad boy" image and colorful character. But he also angered traditionalists who believed his comments and behavior were too abrasive for a sumo champion expected to be a discreet social role model. He quit the sport after he was accused of punching a man in a nightclub brawl.
Asashoruy began sumo in January, 1999 and got the Yokozuna rank in 2003. He won the Emperor’s Cup 25 times, fewer than only two others in sumo history. In 2005, he became the first ever to win all six bashos in a calendar year.


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