To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


MOSCOW (September 21) - Japan's Makoto Sasamoto posted a pair of wins at 60 kg and advanced to the championship bracket of the 2002 greco-roman wrestling world championships in Moscow on September 21. Sasamoto came from behind for a 3-2 win over Australia's Plamen Tchovkanov in his opening match at Universal Sport Hall CSKA and then overwhelmed Stig-Andre Berge of Norway with a technical fall to book a place in the first round of the championship tournament.

The knockout phase of the competition in four weight categories -- 60 kg, 74 kg, 96 kg and 120 kg -- will be held September 22, the final day of competition.

   Sasamoto, seeking to improve on his seventh place finish at the 2001 world championships, will meet Asledin Khudoyberdiev of Uzbekistan for a chance to advance to the quarterfinals -- and perhaps further. In his first match, Sasamoto overcame an early two-point deficit against Tchovkanov to post a 3-2 victory. Tchovkanov converted on a passivity call with a two-point gut wrench in the first period, but the Japanese ace answered back with a one-point gut wrench and then one more for two points in the second three minutes to
secure the win.

  Against Berge, Sasamoto scored with a single-arm throw only 25 seconds into their second-round match and quickly converted with a gut wrench and front headlock-and-turn for a 7-0 lead on his way to an easy win over the 19-yaer-old Norwegian. 

  Japan's two other entries in the second half of the world championships -- Olympic silver-medal winner Katsuhiko Nagata and Yusuke Morikaku -- however, were unable to advance beyond the preliminary groups. Japan did not have an entry at 120 kg. Nagata, floored with a touch of the flu earlier in the week, hammered out a 4-0 win over Daniel Schnider of Switzerland in his first match at 74 kg, but could not get a grip on former junior world champion Vladimir Shtskikh of Ukraine in his second match and went down 5-1. Nagata won the silver medal at 69 kg at the Sydney Olympics two years ago, but failed to advance out of the preliminaries at the world championships for a second year in a row.

  Morikaku, barely tipping the scales at 90 kg, lost to China's Liu Hao 6-0 in the first round of matches at 96 kg and was then saddled with a pair of losses by technical superiority to finish a long difficult day at the office.

  In other action on the second day of competition, Swedish wrestlers won two of the three titles up for grabs with 2001 world champion at 76 kg Ara Abrahamian capping the day with a three-point bodylock-and-throw to win the 84-kg crown over hometown favorite Aleksandr Menshikov. Abrahamian kept the championship match against the 1998 world champion close throughout the regulation six minutes and unleashed a high back-arching throw off the whistle to start extra time, sending Menshikov rolling over his shoulders for three points and the come-from-behind win.

  At 66 kg, Sweden's Jimmy Samuelsson, who took fourth place at 69 kg a year ago in Patras, Greece, went all the way for the crown this year after forging a 3-0 win over 2001 junior world champion Farid Mansurov of Azerbaijan. Geidar Mamedaliyev got the home crowd going in the first championship final with a 4-0 win over Turkmenistan's Nepes Gukulov for the title at 55 kg, but that would be the lone bright spot of the evening for local fans.

  Manuchar Kvirkvelia of Georgia threw Russia's Maksim Semenov for a 4-2 win and the bronze medal at 66 kg. Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel Fatah of Egypt, the 2001 World Cup champion, needed extra time but got the lift and drop he needed to claim a 5-0 win in 6:56 over Armenia's Levon Geghamyan. Abdel Fatah's medal was the first world-level medal won by a wrestler from Africa -- and Egypt -- in 50 years. In the bronze medal match at 55 kg, Hassan Rangraz of Iran, last year's world champion, took the bronze medal with 10-0 technical fall win at 4:39 over Ashot Khachaturyan of Armenia.

  Earlier in the day, Rangraz appeared to have another technical fall against Gukulov in the semifinals, but let up too soon and was caught on his back for a shocking loss by fall.