To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


TOKYO - Three-time world champion Seiko Yamamoto won her second straight national championship title at 56 kg on December 23 and became the first female wrestle to win the Emperor's Cup as the meet's most outstanding wrestler. Yamamoto dumped Mariko Shimizu to her back 12 seconds into overtime of the 56-kg final at Yoyogi National Gymnasium to post a 5-0 victory over the former three-time national titlist.

    Meanwhile,  Kazuyuki Miyata (freestyle, 69 kg), Makoto Sasamoto (greco-roman, 58 kg) and Kyoko Hamaguchi (female, 75 kg) were named recipients of the outstanding wrestler trophies in their respective styles.

    Hitomi Sakamoto, two-time world champion at 51 kg and FILA's female wrestler of the year in 2000, sat out the national championships with an injured right elbow and is scheduled to undergo surgery for a shaky right knee in January. Sakamoto plans to return to competition in about 12 months.

    It was the second year in a row that the men's and women's national championship meets were held together at the same time and location.

    Results of the championship finals:

54 - Tomohiro Matsunaga def. Yuki Nagao 3-0, o.t. 7:06
    Matsunaga, 21, Nippon Sports Science University, 1st national championship title

58 - Shingo Hirai def. Masashi Masuda 6-2
    Hirai, 23, security company employee, 1s

63 - Kiyofumi Kanabuchi def. Kazuhiko Ikematsu 4-1
    Kanabuchi, 22, coach at Kokushikan University, 2nd

69 - Kazuyuki Miyata def. Mitsuhiro Amagai 4-1, o.t. 7:51
    Miyata, 25, company employee, 2nd (1st at 69)

76 - Kunihiko Obata def. Kenji Koshiba 5-3
    Obata, 21, Yamanashi Gakuin University, 3rd

85 - Tatsuo Kawai def. Katsutoshi Senba by tech. sup. 10-0, 2:04
    Kawai, 28, high school teacher, 7th (6th at 85 kg)

97 - Yoshihiro Nakao def. Kazuhiko Hamanaka 3-1
    Nakao, 29, company employee, 1st

130 - Akihito Tanaka def. Naoshi Fujita by fall, 1:00 (2-4)
    Tanaka, 18, Senshu University, 1st

54 - Tomoya Murata def. Takashi Yasuhara 2-1 (o.t. 9:00)
    Murata, 24, Hino Club (Shiga), 2nd

58 - Makoto Sasamoto def. Kenta Kudo by tech. sup. 11-0, 1:51
    Sasamoto, 24, security company employee, 2nd

63 - Masaki Imuro def. Mitsuoki Hirai 4-0
    Imuro, 23, Japan Self Defense Forces, 2nd

69 - Katsuhiko Nagata def. Masanori Oi
    Nagata, 28, New Japan Pro Wrestling employee, 5th

76 - Taichi Suga def. Yawara Saito 2-0, o.t. 9:00
    Suga, 22, Nihon University, 2nd

85 - Shingo Matsumoto def. Hideki Kinoshita by tech. sup. 10-0, 4:58
    Matsumoto, 23, company employee, 3rd

97 - Yusuke Morikaku def. Hiroshi Ota 4-0
    Morikaku, 22, Nippon Sports Science University, 2nd

130 - Katsuaki Suzuki def. Hirotoshi Segawa 3-2, o.t. 6:26
    Suzuki, 23, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, 2nd

46 - Shoko Yoshimura def. Mika Noguchi by injury default, 2:32 (8-0)
    Yoshimura, 33, company employee, 8th (1st at 46 kg)

51 - Ninako Hattori def. Sachiko Akasaka 5-0
    Hattori, 19, Chukyo Women's University, 1st

56 - Seiko Yamamoto def. Mariko Shimizu 5-0, o.t. 6:12
    Yamamoto, 21, Nihon University, 2nd

62 - Rena Iwama def. Ari Suzuki by fall, 3:28 (5-0)
    Iwama, 22, Chukyo Women's University, 3rd

68 - Norie Saito def. Eri Sakamoto 4-2
    Saito, 23, company employee, 2nd (1st at 68)

75 - Kyoko Hamaguchi def. Fumiko Murashima by fall, 1:32 (7-0)
    Hamaguchi, 23, Hamaguchi Gym, 6th (5th at 75 kg)

TOKYO - The board of directors for the Japan Wrestling Federation met December 23 and decided to implement the new weight divisions designated by the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) earlier in the month for Japan's domestic meets beginning in January.

    The board also decided to submit bids to host the 2003 World Cup of
women's wrestling and the 2004 Asian women's wrestling championships

PATRAS (Greece) - Makoto Sasamoto earned Japan's highest position at the 46th world championships of greco-roman wrestling with a seventh place after a pair of one-sided wins at 58 kg before falling 8-2 to Olympic champion Armen Nazarian of Bulgaria in the quarterfinals.

    Sasamoto's finish at the December 6-9 meet was one better than his eighth place at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and, along with a ninth-place performance by Tomoya Murata at 54 kg, gave Japan six team points and a tie for 22nd in the final team standings.

    Olympic silver medalist Kazuhiko Nagata, however, was stunned with a 9-2 loss by little-known Spanish entry Moises Sanchez at 69 kg and marred one of Japan's better showings at the world meet in recent years by failing to advance beyond the preliminary groupings.

    While also being left behind in the preliminary groups, national team newcomers Shingo Matsumoto (1-1 at 85 kg) and Taichi Suga (1-1 at 76 kg) turned in performances that hinted at even a brighter future for Japanese greco-roman wrestling.

PATRAS (Greece) - Katsuhiko Nagata came to the greco-roman world meet in this western Greek port city with hopes of showing that his silver medal showing at the Sydney Olympics was no fluke. The former Tokyo police officer looked sharp in pre-tournament practices and as the Japanese team captain was determined to return home from the 46th greco-roman world championships with a medal.

    Even when meet organizers ordered a second drawing of lots at 69 kg after irregularities in the first draw, luck appeared to be on his side as Nagata was paired with unheralded Moises Sanchez of Spain and Venezuela's Endrix Arteaga. But, Nagata's aspirations soon evaporated in the heat of competition as he surrendered nine unanswered points in the second period of his opening bout with Sanchez and was stunned with a 9-2 upset loss.

    His loss along with Sanchez' earlier victory over Arteaga ensured that it would be the young Spaniard and not Nagata who would advance to the championship bracket.

    "My opponent was an unknown and I made the mistake of underestimating him," Nagata said at the end of the December 6-9 competition at Dimitrios Tofalos Stadium.

    "(The loss) has made me aware of my own weaknesses," added Nagata, who had left the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department after Sydney to focus on his training for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. In his bout with Sanchez, Nagata remained the aggressor in the first period and converted on a par terre opportunity with a gut wrench to take a 2-0 lead at halftime.

    In the second period, however, the Japanese veteran appeared to become overly eager to score the necessary third point and forced a gut wrench that allowed Sanchez to step over and claim two points of his own. With Nagata's mind still in disarray after losing the lead, Sanchez launched a pair of back-arching throws that propelled him into a 9-2 lead
midway through the final stanza.

    Unable to close the gap in the final minute, Nagata left the mat frustrated and disappointed with head bowed and tears welling up in his eyes.  He vowed that he will get his thinking turned around before the next Olympics.

    "I will become the kind of person who rises up out of the depths and I will show everyone a life that they will think is dramatic when I get it turned around," Nagata said. "(Nagata's employer New Japan Pro Wrestling) has really done so much for me, so it is so regrettable that I wasn't able to produce any results."

    "It's also regrettable that I only planned on winning and making a triumphant return to Japan.  I will make sure that I bring a medal home from the Athens Olympics," Nagata said after the meet. "I don't dwell on the losing in the preliminaries beyond that it has shown me my weak points.  I focus on my wrestling a year ago at the Olympics and think that was better," Nagata added philosophically.

    "I really think that it was up to me to lead the Japanese team by winning and creating a mood of excitement.  For this reason, I think it's pitiful that I did not get beyond the preliminary group."