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Emperor Akihito sent a letter of congratulations and encouragement Tuesday to Hakuho for his record-breaking feat at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament last month, the Imperial Household Agency said.

The letter was handed to Japan Sumo Association acting chief Hiroyoshi Murayama by grand chamberlain Yutaka Kawashima at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo.

“There is nothing more rewarding than this,” Hakuho said at a news conference. “I feel extremely honored, with genuine pleasure.”

The Emperor said in the letter: “Despite being under a difficult situation, you have fought with perseverance to win the tournament with a perfect record. You have also broken Taiho’s winning streak to sit third on the all-time list. I wish that you stay well and continue your efforts.”

The Mongolian champion became the first wrestler to win three consecutive tournaments with perfect 15-0 records since the 1958 introduction of the six-tournament-a-year system. He has also stretched his winning streak to 47 bouts, the third-longest ever.

“Despite the gambling scandal, the Emperor’s feeling for the national sport stays the same,” the Imperial Household Agency said. “The Emperor supports wrestlers who fight seriously.”

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