Controversial sumo grand champion Asashoryu has triggered speculation he is close to quitting the ancient heavyweight sport with a series of cryptic comments to Japanese journalists.
The volatile Mongolian first raised eyebrows when he uttered a few words to the media scrum as he marched off to take a bath following a training session for this month’s Tokyo tournament.
“Do you fancy coming for a drink?” Asashoryu was quoted as saying in Nikkan Sports. “Because this could be my last appearance in Tokyo.”
The 28-year-old made some equally baffling comments later when he took part in a hot-air balloon trip.
“I will do my best to come back next year,” Asashoryu said after joining 60,000 enthusiasts at a balloon festival in Nagano.
Asashoryu’s short fuse has landed him in trouble with Japanese sumo authorities many times, most notably resulting in a ban two years ago for playing soccer while supposedly injured.