Asanoyama won the May 2019 tournament and was presented with a gift cup by then U.S. President Trump (Image: Afro)The Sumo Association took the situation very seriously and suspended Asanoyama for six tournaments and reduced his remuneration by 50% for six months. It has been over a year since the punishment. Asanoyama, who had been demoted to the third rank, returned to the ring.“Asanoyama is now back in the ring. Just because he were a former ozeki does not mean you get special treatment. Asanoyama is not considered a sekitori, but rather a sumo wrestler trainer. They are not assigned to the same rank and must take care of their own personal affairs.”
“Asanoyama sweeps the training hall with a broom, washes the bathrooms, and performs other chores alongside the younger wrestlers. He also serves meals. I heard that he could not even go to the local convenience store except for special cases such as medical treatment. His salary, which was 2.5 million yen per month when he was an ozeki, is now zero.”
Asanoyama suffered a further shock. His grandfather passed away in June of last year, followed by his father in August. Asanoyama’s spirits temporarily waned, and he even contemplated retirement.
He says, “It was my mentors who supported me. My mentor, Takasago Oyakata (former Sekiwake Asasekiryu ), encouraged me, saying, ‘Do your best once more for your parents.’ Junichiro Nakamura, his high school (Toyama Sho) coach, encouraged him by saying, ‘Don’t ever quit. Don’t ever quit. If you quit, you will turn your back on the people around you who supported you.’”
Asanoyama changed his first name from “Hideki,” which was named after his high school coach Hideki Urayama, to his real name “Hiroki. He said the reason for the change was that he could not take the name of his teacher after a scandalous incident. After his victory, Asanoyama also told the press.
“The customers have waited for me for a year. I am very happy to be allowed to wrestle again.”
Asanoyama had seen hell because of his own naivete, used his humiliation as a springboard to become an ozeki again.