ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — Yokozuna Asashoryu claimed victory before a packed crowd on the final day of the Japanese grand sumo tour of Mongolia on Thursday, after defeating fellow Yokozuna Hakuho in a playoff.
Asashoryu faced Hakuho, who had scored a victory the previous day, in the final bout at a circus facility to decide the overall winner. He claimed victory by hurling Hakuho out with an over-arm throw, and received the president’s cup from Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar.
“I’m thankful to the people of both countries (Japan and Mongolia) who love sumo. Bayarlalaa (Thank you),” a tearful Asashoryu said after his winning performance.
The tour gained widespread attention in Mongolia, with a live broadcast on the opening day on Wednesday and several television stations playing delayed broadcasts. It was also given front-page coverage in newspapers the following day. Sumo fans crowded around the venue and ticket scalpers also appeared.
The circus facility is operated by Asashoryu’s relatives, and between bouts Asashoryu went around the stalls and called out to the employees, resembling more of a manager than a wrestler at times.
The highest-priced tickets cost 200,000 togrogs (about 20,000 yen). The average monthly salary of a civil servant in Mongolia is about 300,000 togrogs, making the tickets expensive. One spectator said he sold four sheep to get a ticket. But many others reportedly watched the bouts on department store televisions from streets.
(Mainichi Japan) August 29, 2008