To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


OSAKA (August 28-29) - Yamanashi Gakuin University senior Kunihiko Obata swept through the field at 84 kg to become the seventh wrestler in Japanese wrestling history to win four straight collegiate open freestyle championship crowns Obata, a Japanese national team member at 74 kg, had little trouble rolling to the championship at Kanaoka Park Gymnasium in the Osaka suburb of Sakai and named the outstanding wrestler of the freestyle competition. Obata was later named the most valuable wrestler of the entire collegiate open meet, which included competition in greco-roman and women's wrestling.

  The other champions included Tomohiro Matsunaga (Nippon Sports Science University, 55), Daishi Matsuo (NSSU, 60), Masahiko Nagashima (Aoyama Gakuin University, 66), Kazuhiko Nagashima (Waseda University, 76), Katsutoshi Semba (Ritsumeikan University, 96) and Akihito Tanaka (Senshu University, 120). Matsunaga, the 2002 world university champion, Matsuo and the Nagashima twins each won their second collegiate open titles.


OSAKA (August 30-31) - Bunsei Murakami and three other wrestlers won championship titles for a second straight year in the greco-roman collegiate open while Seiko Yamamoto won her a second straight crown in the women's student open. Murakami of Takushoku University breezed to the championship at 55kg at Kanaoka Park Gymnasium and was joined by Takushoku teammate Naoki Sawada at 120 kg as a repeat champion. Ikuhiro Yanagawa of Nippon Sports Science University won at 60 kg for his second straight open title and Kenzo Kato of Daito Bunka University notched a second championship with a hard-fought overtime win at 96 kg. Other champions included Ikuo Usuda (Takushoku, 66), Hiroki Iwasaki (NSSU, 74) and Yujiro Takahashi (NSSU, 84).

   In the women's competition, the champions were Momoko Sera (Fukuoka University, 48), Sachiko Akasaka (Fukuoka, 51), Seiko Yamamoto (Nihon University 55), Saori Yoshida (Chukyo Women's University, 59), Ayako Suga (Nihon, 63), Mimi Sugawara (Kokushikan University, 67) and Fumiko Murashima (CWU, 72).


FUKUOKA (August 17-19) - Noriyuki Takahashi of Kasumigaura high school in Ibaraki Prefecture won his fourth high school level national championship title by taking the 58-kg crown at the high school greco-roman national championship meet in Fukuoka. Takahashi has already won individual championships at the high school national invitational meet in March, the cadet national championships in April and the high school (freestyle) national championships earlier in August.

  Tsunehira Hasegawa of Yaezu Chuo high school in Shizuoka Prefecture won his second straight high school greco-roman national title at 50 kg. Other champions included Yuki Takeda (Ehime, 54 kg), Hiroki Takahashi (Oita, 63), Shinji Jinno (Ehime, 69), Tsukasa Tsurumaki (Yamagata, 76), John Gayardo (Miyagi, 85), Yoshio Kobayashi (Nagasaki, 97) and Hideki Maruyama (Kumamoto, 120).


TOKYO - Japanese national team coach Kosei Akaishi left for Afghanistan on August 5 to help with the revitalization of the war-torn country's wrestling program. Akaishi, who received the request from the Japan Foundation, left Narita Airport outside Tokyo with four boxes of wrestling shoes and T-shirts to help with the reconstruction of Afghan wrestling. Akaishi, a silver medalist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is scheduled to help the Afghan team prepare for the Asian Games in Pusan, South Korea.

  Akaishi will serve as a coach for the Afghan team throughout the wrestling competition at the Asian Games. The games get under way on September 29 with the wrestling competition slated for October 2-8. Meanwhile, 1995 world silver medalist Hiroshi Kado left for Ukraine on August 15 to study coaching theory and methodology for one year under the Japanese Olympic Committee's program for developing national team coaches.


PIOTRKOV, Poland (Aug. 9-11) - Japanese ace Makoto Sasamoto took a third place at 60 kg at the Pytlasinski International tourney in Poland during the national team's summer tour of Europe. Other members of the Japanese national team, however, failed to advance beyond their preliminary groups.


KASUMIGAURA (August 2-5) - Shinya Matsumoto of Kyoto's Amino high school won the high school national championship crown at 76 kg and became the second wrestler in Japanese wrestling history to win three straight titles at the high school national meet.

   Masahide Ohashi of Suita high school in Osaka won three championships from 1993 to 1995. Matsumoto won titles in the national meet and national sports festival in 2000 as a first year student at Amino high school. He added the national invitational crown to his list of titles in 2001. In 2002, Matsumoto added a pair of titles in cadet nationals as well as the high school greco-roman crown to his list of national titles to bring his total of individual championships at the national level to 10. "This is already old news. I still have the national sports festival (in October)," Matsumoto said after the meet. "I want to look beyond Japan and take aim at the rest of the world. The Athens Olympics in 2004 might be difficult, but I definitely want to wrestle in the next Olympics in Beijing."

The other champions in the high school nationals were:
50 kg - Tsunehira Hasegawa (Yaezu Chuo high school, Shizuoka)
54 kg - Kenichi Yumoto (Wakayama Kogyo, Wakayama)
58 kg - Noriyuki Takatsuka (Kasumigaura, Ibaraki)
63 kg - Yasuke???? Iwai (Amino, Kyoto)
69 kg - Shinji Jinno (Hokujo, Ehime)
76 kg - Shinya Matsumoto (Amino, Kyoto)
85 kg - Takao Isokawa (Nihon Bunri, Oita)
130 kg - Tomofumi Akiyama (Numazu Gakuen, Shizuoka)

   The team championship went to host Kasumigaura high school which won its 15th national championship meet title overall with a 4-3 win over Kanoya Chuo of Kagoshima Prefecture. Third place honors went to Tamana Kogyo of Kumamoto and Akita Shogyo.