To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


KOMOTINI, Greece (February 23-24) - Japanese greco-roman ace Makoto Sasamoto breezed through the field at 60 kg as Japan claimed three titles at the inaugural Demokritia Tournament in Komotini, Greece. Along with Sasamoto, who finished seventh in last year's world championships in Patras, Greece, Tomoya Murata (55 kg) and Shingo Matsumoto (84 kg) won championships for Japan while Masaki Imuro (66 kg) was runner-up in his weight category.

 Olympic silver medalist Katsuhiko Nagata and up-and-coming Taichi Suga both lost twice in their preliminary groups and failed to advance to the championship bracket at 74 kg. Japan finished second in the team standings to host Greece.

According to national team coach Hiroshi Kado, Murata won all three of his bouts by technical superiority and was largely untested in the tournament. Sasamoto faced a tougher field at 60 kg, but edged former junior world runner-up Nobert Futo of Yugoslavia in the semifinals 4-1 and then threw 1998 Pan-American champion James Gruenwald twice with a reverse waist-lock in the finals on his way to a 7-0 triumph.

Matsumoto lost 4-1 to Greece's Dimitrios Avramis, who won the bronze medal at 76 kg in the 1999 world championships, in the preliminary rounds at 84 kg, but came back through the repechage matches and defeated Avramis 3-0 in the final for the championship.

Imuro posted a pair of technical falls in the preliminary groups and then won a 2-2 referee's decision over Mike Ellsworth of the United States in the semifinals. In the final, Imuro was rolled over with a reverse waist-lock by Manuchar Kvirkvelia of Georgia and called for the pin.

According to Kado, Nagata did not wrestle poorly, but found himself paired with former world champion Roustam Adzhi of Ukraine and Sergey Solodkiy, also of Ukraine, who was fourth at 76 kg at last year's world championships. Meanwhile, Nihon University student Taichi Suga had been preoccupied with year-end exams prior to the tour and had missed a considerable amount of practice time. In his matches, Suga's timing was off and made a number of little errors that cost him important points.

Japanese results:

55 kg - MURATA, Tomoya (1st, seven entries)

1R - won TF 11-0, 4:31 Avraam Karakassidi, Greece
2R - bye
3R - won TF 12-0, 1:43 Kektsekidis Tariel, Cyprus
FINAL - won TF 11-0, 4:06 Papastergiou Stefanos, Greece
60 kg - SASAMOTO, Makoto (1st, 14 entries)

1R - won 4-0 Ion Gaimer, Moldova
2R - won by fall 1:18 Alexndro Triantafilidis, Greece
3R - won 10-2 Roman Zgardan, Moldova
SF - won 4-1 Nobert Futo, Yugoslavia
FINAL - won 7-0 Jim Gruenwald, U.S.
66 kg - IMURO, Masaki (2nd, 14 entries)

1R - won TF 11-0, 4:34 Ilir Cani, Albania
2R - bye
3R - won TF 10-0, 2:18 Hathiraj Clodian, Albania
SF - won OT ref. dec. 2-2, 9:00 Mike Ellsworth, U.S.
FINAL - lost by fall 1:21 Manuchar Kvirkvelia, Georgia
74 kg - NAGATA, Katsuhiko (DNP, 12 entries)

1R - bye
2R - lost 1-3, OT 6:33 Sergey Solodky, Ukraine
3R - lost 0-9 Rustam Adzhi, Ukraine
74 kg - SUGA, Taichi (DNP, 12 entries)

1R - lost 2-8 Vologi Shaeskiy, Ukraine
2R - lost 0-6 Georgios Panagiotou, Greece
3R - bye
84 kg - MATSUMOTO, Shingo (1st, 11 entries)

1R - won 8-2 Gennady Shabanov, Ukraine
2R - lost 1-4 Dimitrios Avramis, Greece
3R - won TF 11-0, 1:26 Andreas Pieri, Cyprus
Rp1 - won 5-2 Sergey Putenko, Ukraine
Rp2 - won 6-4 Bojah Mijatov, Yugoslavia
SF - won 9-7 Ethan Bosch, U.S.
FINAL - won 3-0 Dimitrios Avramis, Greece
Team standings: Greece 29 points, Japan 23, United States 17, Ukraine
16, Georgia 13, Yugoslavia 10


KIEV, Ukraine (February 21-23) - Yamanashi Gakuin University junior Kunihiko Obata took third place at the Kiev International Grand Prix. Shingo Hirai grabbed a fourth place and Yoshihiro Nakao came through with an eighth in their first appearances with the Japanese national team.

Japanese results (Complete results unavailable):

55 kg - MATSUNAGA, Tomohiro (9th, 24 entries)

1R - bye
2R - won fall Ivanov, Russia
3R - lost 9-12 Tuvbya, Moldova
55 kg - HIRAI, Shingo (4th, 24 entries)

1R - won 4-3 Chumokov, Ukraine
2R - won 3-0 Vriochma, Romania
3R - bye
QF - won 3-2 Komitonov, Russia
SF - lost 5-9 Zakhank, Ukraine
FINAL (3rd-4th) - lost 5-10 Achilov, Uzbekistan
66 kg - KANABUCHI, Kiyofumi (14th, 35 entries)

1R - won TF Osman (nationality unknown)
2R - lost 1-6 Baturov, Russia
3R - lost 1-4 Beik, S. Korea
66 kg - MIYATA, Kazuyuki (11th, 35 entries)

1R - won TF Gioev, Russia
2R - won 4-0 Latyabv, Ukraine
3R - bye
QF - lost 1-3 Paslar, Bulgaria
74 kg - OBATA, Kunihiko (3rd, 23 entries)

1R - bye
2R - won TF Seigenev, Russia
3R - won default Gitinov, Russia
QF - won TF Pakhomov, Russia
SF - lost 0-4 Joe Williams, U.S.
FINAL (3rd-4th) - won 5-0 Alakhomov, Azerbaijan
97 kg - NAKAO, Yoshihiro (8th, 14 entries)

1R - won default Stinsky, Ukraine
2R - lost 0-6 Priadun, Ukraine
3R - lost 1-6 Mastepanov, Belarus


COLORADO SPRINGS, United States (February 9-10) - Japan sent a team of promising collegians to the Dave Schultz Memorial tournament in Colorado Springs with Momo Sera of Fukuoka University coming home with the championship crown in the women's 48-kg division. Sera, champion at 43 kg at last year's junior world championships in Martigny, Switzerland, edged two-time European bronze medalist Kamilia Tzekova of Bulgaria 4-3 in the final.

The Japanese men, meanwhile, could only manage of pair of fourth places -- Hisato Yoshida of Senshu University and Takashi Murasaki of Takushoku University --in greco-roman, while Ryuta takahashi of Takushoku was Japan's only freestyle entry to advance beyond the preliminary rounds.