To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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

Profiles of the members of the Japanese national team

    TOKYO (Aug. 28) - Profiles of the members of the Japanese national team for the freestyle world championships in Tehran, September 5-7:

55 kg - TANABE, Chikara (Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department)
     Born: 1975 April 20, Hokkaido.  Age: 27.  Ht: 160 cm.  Education:
Iwamisawa high school (Hokkaido) -- Nippon Sport Science University.
    Two-time high school national champion.  Won first senior national title
in 1996 at 54 kg and has been Japan's top lightweight since, winning a berth
in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.  Slowed by injuries in 2001, Tanabe lost in
the national team trials and later in the national championships.
    Olympic Games - 2000, 10th.  World championships - 1998, 11th; 1999,
12th.  Asian Games - 1998, 7th.  Asian championships - 1997, 6th; 1999, 9th.
60 kg - OTA, Ryosuke (Tokyo MPD)
    Born: 1978 April 12, Shizuoka.  Age: 24.  Ht: 163 cm.  Education:
Tsuchiura Nichidai high school (Ibaraki) -- Nihon University.
    Two-time junior high school national champion. Won four high school
national titles in 1996. Won the junior national champion in 1998, but
career stalled because of injuries. Got his career moving again in 2001
after taking second place in the national team trials.
    Jr. world championships - 1996, 4th (58kg); 1998, 11th (60 kg).  Jr.
Asian championships - 1998, 6th (60 kg)
66 kg - IKEMATSU, Kazuhiko (assistant coach, NSSU)
    Born: 1979 December 26, Fukuoka.  Age: 22.  Ht: 171 cm.  Education: Mii
high school (Fukuoka) -- NSSU.
    Best showing in high school was as runner-up in the national sports
festival.  Ikematsu made progress after entering NSSU, winning the national
collegiate title in 2000 and finishing third in national senior
championships. Won the national team trials for a berth on Japanese world
team. Finished second at 63 kg in the 2001 national championships in
December, but won the national team trials again in June.
    World championships - 2001, 23rd (63 kg)
74 kg - OBATA, Kunihiko (student, Yamanashi Gakuin University)
    Born: 1980 October 17, Yamaguchi.  Age: 21.  Ht: 177 cm.  Education:
Kasumigaura high school (Ibaraki) -- YGU.
    Won four national high school titles in 1997, won all five in 1998.
Finished third in the junior world championships in 1999 as a freshman at
YGU and won his first senior national title. National champion again in 2000
and 2001.
    World championships - 2001, 29th (76 kg).  Asian championships - 2001,
3rd (76 kg); 2000, 6th (76 kg).
    Jr. world championships - 1999, 3rd.  Jr. Asian championships, 1999, 2nd
84 kg - SEMBA, Katsuyoshi (student, Ritsumeikan University)
    Born: 1980 April 30, Ehime.  Age: 22.  Ht: 178 cm.  Education:
Ritsumeikan Uji high school (Kyoto) -- Ritsumeikan University.
    Highest national finish in high school was second in the national
championships.  Has won three straight championships in western Japan
collegiate championships from 1999 to 2001.  Finished second in the national
collegiate open championships and the national collegiate championships in
2001.  Was also second in the national senior championships in December. 
Aiming to become the first national champion from a university in western
Japan since 1984 after Hirokazu Ishimori of Osaka Physical Education
    University world championships - 2002, 5th.
96 kg - NAKAO, Yoshihiro (SP Network)
    Born: 1972 June 25, Tokyo.  Age: 30.  Ht: 180 cm.  Education: Tokyo
Kogyo high school -- Toyo University.
    Did not win a major title in high school and repeatedly just missed the
championships as a student at Toyo.  After joining the Japanese Self-Defense
Forces and its physical training school, Nakao on the national sports
festival championship at 82 kg in 1996.  Won his first national championship
title last December at the age of 29 years, 5 months, 28 days -- the fourth
oldest first-time champion in Japanese wrestling history.
120 kg - TANAKA Akihito (student, Senshu University)
    Born: 1983 March 9, Fukuoka Prefecture. Age: 19. Ht: 182 cm.  Education:
Mii high school (Fukuoka) -- Senshu University.
    Won the greco-roman high school national championship in 1999 and in
2000 won the freestyle and greco-roman national titles as well as the
national sports festival. As a freshman at Senshu last year, Tanaka finished
second in both the collegiate open and the national collegiate
championships. but pinned national team member Hisashi Fujita in the final
of the senior national championships.
    World univeristy championships - 2002, 5th.