To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world
By William May
（Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public
Kyodo World Services, senior sports writer：firstname.lastname@example.org）
YOSHIDA FLATTENS SAKAMOTO IN NATIONAL C'SHIPS FINAL
TOKYO (December 21-23) - Newly crowned world champion Saori Yoshida
needed only 25 seconds to flatten Hitomi
Sakamoto, FILA's female wrestler of the year
in 2000, and claim her first title in the
Japanese national wrestling championships.
Yoshida, recently named FILA's top female
wrestler for 2002, dropped Sakamoto to her
back with a quick double-leg takedown at
Tokyo's Yoyogi No. 2 National Gymnasium,
and then wrapped up the former two-time world
champion with a cradle for the pin. Yoshida's
third pin of the tournament put an exclamation
mark at the end of a year that saw her dominate
two-time world champion Seiko Yamamoto in
the national team trials this summer on her
way to gold medals in the Asian Games and
the women's world championships in Greece.
Sakamoto, a two-time world champion at
51 kg and a teammate of Yoshida's at Chukyo
Women's University, was attempting a comeback
from knee surgery last January with an eye
on the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Meanwhile, the Japan Wrestling Federation's
top award, the Emperor's Cup, went to Asian
Games champion Shingo Matsumoto, who wrapped
up challenger Hideki Kinoshita with a win
by technical superiority in the 84-kg final
Matsumoto turned Kinoshita over at will with
a reverse waistlock for a quick 11-0 lead
just 2:27 into the final.
In other matches, Sakamoto's younger
sister Makiko, a 17-year-old student at the
CWU high school affiliate, capped her surprising
run through the field at 48 kg with a 4-1
triumph over five-time former world champion
Shoko Yoshimura. Sakamoto dropped Yoshimura
to her back with a double leg takedown one
minute into the second period to break a
1-1 tie with the 34-year-old veteran who
was seeking her ninth national title.
On her way to the final, Sakamoto upended
three-time world champion Miyu Yamamoto 9-6
in a quarterfinal bout and then outlasted
national team member Mika Noguchi 3-2 in
a semifinal match that lasted 8:24.
At 72 kg, Kyoko Hamaguchi, who regained
her world championship crown at the world
championships last month, pinned challenger
Ayako Murashima at 1:40 for her fourth pin
of the five-wrestler round-robin competition.
In the men's freestyle competition, Asian
Games silver medalist Chikara Tanabe overcame
an early two-point deficit and edged world
university champion Tomohiro Matsunaga by
referees' decision (2-2, 9:00) for his fourth
title. Matsunaga of Nippon Sports Science
University stepped over a fireman's carry
and caught the Tokyo policeman on his back
for two points. Tanabe, however, scored with
an ankle pick at the buzzer ending regulation
and then forced Matsunaga to break his grip
in the overtime clinch.
In other bouts by style and weight category:
At 60 kg, Ryosuke Ota scored with a single-leg
takedown 1:56 into overtime and took a 3-2
win from three-time former national champion
Hiroki Sekikawa for his first all-Japan title.
At 66 kg, Sydney Olympic team member Kazuyuki
Miyata emerged on top out of a pair of clinch
situations and held on for a 2-0 win after
nine minutes with Kokushikan University coach
At 74 kg, Kunihiko Obata scored a late
single-leg takedown to nail down his fourth
straight national title with a 3-1 win over
Waseda University rival Kazuyuki Nagashima.
Atlanta Olympic bronze medalist Takuya Ota,
who coached Obata at Kasumigaura high school
in the late 1990s, is now Nagashima's coach
at Waseda and is trying to stop the burly
At 84 kg, Hidekazu Yokoyama, who reigned
as freestyle national champion at 82 kg from
1993 to 1995, had little trouble with Satoru
Yamamoto, cranking over the NSSU student
with gut wrenches and grapevines for a 10-0
win by technical superiority at 3:56.
Yokoyama, who also won a pair of greco-roman
titles in 1997 and 1998, secured his sixth
national championship title.
Also of note, Takao Isokawa, a highly touted
high school grappler from Oita Prefecture,
came back for third place after falling 6-3
to Yokoyama in the semifinals.
Defending champion Tatsuo Kawai, the winner
of seven straight national titles through
2001, sat out this year's championships.
At 96 kg, defending champion Yoshihiro
Nakao scored three points out of three separate
clinches to claim a 3-0 overtime win over
At 120 kg, defending champion Akihito Tanaka,
a second-year student at Senshu University,
scored four points with a fireman's carry
in the first period and held on for 5-3 victory
over unheralded Kohei Suwama of the Clean-up
In greco-roman at 55 kg, Masatoshi Toyoda
scored with a quick lateral drop off the
clinch to start overtime and claimed a hard-fought
3-2 win at 6:02 over Takashi Yasuhara of
the Japan Self Defense Forces team.
At 60 kg, Sydney Olympian Makoto Sasamoto
hit a back-arching throw to open extra time
and secure his third straight all-Japan title
with a 5-0 win over stubborn Mitsuo Tomiya.
At 66 kg, national team member Masaki Imuro
ended the first period with four points out
of the par terre position and held firm in
the second period to earn a 4-0 win over
SDF rival and former Takushoku University
teammate Masanori Oi.
At 74 kg, Sydney Olympic silver medalist
Katsuhiko Nagata cranked two-time defending
champion Taichi Suga over with a headlock
18 seconds into overtime and took a 5-1 win.
Nagata, at 69 kg, and Suga, at 76 kg, were
formerly teammates on the Japanese squad
at the 2001 greco-roman world championships,
but Nagata has posted wins over Suga twice
this year since the introduction of FILA's
new weight categories in January.
At 96 kg, collegiate national champion
Kenzo Kato scored with a early headlock and
earned a 4-1 win over Shuhei Taniguchi of
the Japan SDF.
Taniguchi upended world team member Yusuke
Morikaku 3-2 in the semifinals. Morikaku
rebounded for third place.
At 120 kg, two-time defending champion
Katsuaki Suzuki scored with a snap-down and
go-behind at 5:30 of the title bout to claim
a 3-2 win over Hirotoshi Segawa.
In women's wrestling, world silver medalist
Chiharu Icho of Chukyo Women's University
blocked a pair of single-arm throws attempted
by 2001 champion Ninako Hattori to grab a
3-1 win at 6:14 in overtime at 51 kg.
At 59 kg, Rena Iwama, a world silver medalist
in 2000, hammered out a 4-1 win over Mariko
Shimizu, who has wrestled in every women's
national championship tourney since the inaugural
event in 1987.
At 63 kg, reigning world champion Kaori
Icho dominated 1999 world champion Ayako
Shoda, but had to fight off her back at the
end of the bout to be credited with a 12-2
win by technical superiority. Icho, a student
at the CWU affiliate high school, turned
Shoda over with a pair of leg grapevines,
but was rolled over on her back after building
up a 12-point lead. Icho scrambled off her
back to bring an end to the match at 4:25.
At 67 kg, national team member Norie Saito
dropped upset-minded Eri Sakamoto to her
back out of a clinch to start overtime and
claim a 3-2 victory. Sakamoto started wrestling
in Aomori at the urging of her cousins Hitomi