To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


 By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee
Kyodo World Services, senior sports


PATRAS (Greece) - Makoto Sasamoto fell to two-time Olympic champion Armen Nazarian of Bulgaria 8-2 in the quarterfinals of the 46th greco-roman wrestling world championships on Sunday and earned Japan a seventh place finish at 58 kg. Sasamoto's seventh was one step better that his eighth place at last year's Sydney Olympics and was the best performance by a Japanese male wrestler in either the greco-roman or freestyle world championships this year.

Sasamoto, seeking to avenge a technical fall loss to Nazarian in Sydney, came out the aggressor in their bout at Dimitrios Tofalos Stadium in this western Greek port city, but the Olympic champ earned the first passivity call at 1:07. Nazarian went quickly for a reverse waist lock, but Sasamoto countered by sweeping his arm through underneath and coming out with a body lock to move on top for a 1-0 lead. He added a quick gut wrench for a two-point lead.

Sasamoto then tried to pad his advantage with a lift to back-arching throw, but fell to his back as the pair tumbled out of bounds with Nazarian landing on top for two points and a 2-2 tie. Nazarian tried to get his reverse waist lock again when the match was re-started and then switched off to a front headlock when Sasamoto attempted to counter again with the same body lock. Nazarian then scored twice with three-point throws from the front headlock position and pulled away 8-2 before the break.

    In the second period,
Nazarian parried Sasamoto's straight-ahead attack to preserve his lead and advance to the semifinals. "I lost, but I scored some points (on the Olympic champion), so I think that my wrestling was pretty good," Sasamoto said after the match. "I hope I have a chance to turn this around (on Nazarian) next year)."

Sasamoto's points along with a ninth-place finish at 54 kg by Tomoya Murata on Friday gave Japan six team points and share of a five-way tie for 22nd place in the team standings.

    In Sunday's other bouts,
Nazarian fell to Kazakhstan's Karen Mnatsakanyan 5-4 in the semifinals and then lost to Pan American champion Roberto Monzon of Cuba in the bronze medal match 3-1. In the championship final at 58 kg, Asia No. 2 Dilshod Aripov spotted Mnatskanyan three points in the first period and then stormed back for Uzbekistan's first world title in greco-roman wrestling with a 6-3 triumph.

    At 69 kg, two-time Olympic champion
Filiberto Azcuy of Cuba rocked Olympic bronze medalist Alexej Gloushkov 4-0 with a gut wrench and step-over counter to the gut wrench for his first world championship title. Ukraine veteran Rustam Adzhy, the world champion in 1995, wrapped up Jimmy Samuelson of Sweden with a front headlock and cranked him over for a pin at 1:28 of the bronze medal match.

     At 85 kg,
Mukhran Vakhrangadze edged American Matt Lindland 2-1 in overtime to give Georgia its first world champion in greco-roman since the former Soviet republic's debut as an independent team in 1993. Former junior world champion Alexander Daragan of Ukraine stopped 1998 world champion Alexander Mentshikov of Russia 3-0 for the bronze medal.

    At 130 kg, Olympic champion
Rulon Gardner of the United States forged a 2-0 victory over European champion Mihaly Deak-Bardos of Hungary with a pair of penalty points out of the clinch position for his first world title. Gardner drove Deak-Bardos out of bounds from the clinch position to open the second period for a 1-0 lead and then hoisted the Hungarian over the edge in a sumo-like move to start the overtime period for his margin of victory.

    Hometown hero
Xenofon Koutsioubas rolled over Bulgarian veteran Sergej Mureiko 8-0 for the bronze medal in his first appearance at the senior world championships.
   Cuba won the team title with 54 points, followed by Russia (38) and the United States (33), which won its first-ever team medal in the greco-roman world meet. Russia and the United States, however, led in the medal standings with a gold and two silver each, followed by Cuba which had a gold, silver and two bronze.