ULAN BATOR (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu received the Hero of Labor award, the highest government award in his native Mongolia, which was presented Friday by outgoing Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar.

Asashoryu, 28, became the first sumo wrestler to receive the award, which is the equivalent of the People’s Honor Award in Japan.

“He has continued to produce new records in sumo and has also been a source of encouragement for Mongolian athletes to perform well in the Olympics and world championships,” Enkhbayar said.

The 23-time Emperor Cup winner, who is in Mongolia nursing a bruised right chest he suffered on the penultimate day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament last month, expressed his gratitude for the award.

“I’m really happy to receive this award after also receiving a Mongolian award for sports performance. I want to continue to wrestle the type of sumo that will impress fans,” Asashoryu said.

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