Thu, Apr 22, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Bad boy of sumo discovers new passion in flowers

AFP , TOKYO

Mongolian sumo grand champion Asashoryu, right, competes in the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on Jan. 16 last year.

PHOTO: AFP

Japan’s bad boy of sumo, the ­recently retired grand champion Asashoryu, has found an unlikely new passion: flowers and gardening.

After an often controversial career wrestling man-mountains, the Mongolian-born fighter is shifting his attention to more delicate pursuits and is headed for Britain’s biggest flower show, a source said yesterday.

Asashoryu, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, was to take part in next month’s Chelsea Flower Show, working for renowned Japanese gardener Kazuyuki Ishihara, the source said, asking not to be identified.

Asashoryu, 29, quit Japan’s ancient sport just weeks ago following reports of a drunken nightclub brawl.

He and Ishihara have been acquainted for years and “agreed recently to work together at Chelsea” because the former champion wanted to learn about gardening, the source said. “He has dreams of creating forests in Mongolia.”

Ishihara, a three-time gold winner at Chelsea, will present his garden design “Kazahana,” which means “a light snow flurry from a cloudless sky,” at the May 25 to 29 event, according to the show’s organizers.

The serene world of gardening would be a change of pace for 147kg behemoth Asashoryu, whose abrasive remarks and behavior angered Japanese traditionalists who want sumo champions to be societal role models.

Asashoryu, who won his 25th Emperor’s Cup in January as the third-most successful wrestler in sumo history, announced his retirement on Feb. 4 after he came under fire for his alleged drunken nightclub rampage.

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