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 20) - Japan's Tomoya Murata upended former world champion Ha Tae-Yeon of Korea in a preliminary group match at the 2002 greco-roman wrestling world championships on September 20. Murata drove Ha to his back 49 seconds into overtime at Universal Sport Hall CSKA in Moscow for a 4-2 preliminary group win, but failed to advance to the championship bracket at 55 kg after a 6-5 loss to Turkmenistan's Nepes Gukulov.

   Japan's other two entries on the first day of competition also failed to advance beyond their preliminary groups as Masaki Imuro lost both his bouts at 66 kg and Shingo Matsumoto dropped a hard-fought battle with two-time Olympic champion Hamza Yerlikaya of Turkey at 84 kg. At 55 kg, Murata surrendered two points to Ha in the first period of their second-round match, but held the 1998 world champion scoreless in the second period to force extra time. Murata, who finished ninth at 54 kg in the 2001 world championships, picked up a point with a gut wrench late in the second period to head into overtime trailing only 1-2.

  In overtime, Murata twisted Ha onto his side from the clinch position for one point and then drove the Korean veteran to his back for a two-point exposure and 4-2 victory at 6:49. In his first-round match, Murata gave up a lift-and-throw, gut wrench combination to fall behind 6-1 midway through the second period against Gukulov and could only make up four points before time ran out.Gukulov, a fourth-place winner at the 2000 Asian championships, later advanced to the semifinals.

  At 66 kg, Imuro was overwhelmed by Maksim Semenov, a former junior world champion, and fell 10-0 in 1:44 when he could not get out of the Russian's lift and gut-wrench combination. Imuro, wrestling in his second world championships along with Murata, dropped a 2-1 decision to Hungary's Levente Furedy in his second match and remains winless at the world level.

  At 84 kg, Matsumoto opened with Yerlikaya and battled the European champion throughout their six-minute match, but came out on the short end of a 3-0 decision. Yerlikaya converted on an early passivity call against Matsumoto with a reverse waist-lock for two points and then scored an escape late in the
first period for a third point when Matsumoto attempted his own reverse
waist-lock grip.

  In his evening bout, Matsumoto came back with 3-0 win over East Asian rival Seo Sang-Myung of Korea. In other action, it was a tough day at the office for two of the four reigning world champions in action.

  Mukhran Vakhtangadze of Georgia lost 4-0 to Egypt's Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel Fatah in the first round of the championship bracket at 84 kg while Vaghinak Galustyan of Armenia, the champion at 63 kg in 2001, lost 5-3 to Semenov at 66 kg.

  Iran's Hassan Rangraz, last year's title winner at 54 kg, came from behind to defeat Turkey's Ercan Yildiz 8-3 in the quarterfinals at 55 kg while Sweden's Ara Abrahamian, the winner at 74 kg a year ago, stopped Yerlikaya 3-0 for a berth in the semifinals.

  Meanwhile, Russia pushed all three of their first-day entries into the semifinals as the hosts took the early lead in the race for the team title. Geidar Mamedaliyev earned a 3-0 win in overtime over American Brandon Paulson in the quarterfinals at 55 kg. Semenov edged Iran's Mehdi Hodaei 5-3 at 66 kg and 1998 world champion Aleksandr Menshikov defeated Bojan Mijatov of Yugoslavia at 84 kg.