To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


    TOKYO (March 11) - The Japan Wrestling Federation is looking into the possibility of hosting the World Cup of women’s wrestling in October, following a request from FILA. The JWF is checking to see if it can obtain the use of Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo for October 8-9.

If the gymnasium can be secured, Japan will host the World Cup meet for a second straight year. Japan hosted the third World Cup of women’s wrestling last fall, but failed to make it a “three-peat” when the team lost to the United States in the final. The JWF has indicated that it would likely include Japan’s four Olympic representatives on the World Cup team in an attempt to regain the
title it lost to the United States last year.


    TOKYO (March 14) - Former FILA wrestler of the year Hitomi Sakamoto, forced to sit out the Olympic team trials with some niggling injuries, returned to action at the women’s national team training camp in mid-March. Sakamoto, who won a pair of world titles at 51 kg in 2000 and 2001 along with the FILA wrestler of the year award, indicated that she would compete in the national team trials on April 3-4 for the Asian championships.

    Rena Iwama and Norie Saito, who won championships at last year’s Asia meet in New Delhi took part in the camp, but Miyu Yamamoto and Seiko Yamamoto sat out the camp after tough losses in last month’s Japan Queen’s Cup.


    ANKARA, Turkey (March 14) - Japanese Olympic team members Chikara Tanabe and Kazuhiko Ikematsu won bronze medals at the Yasar Dogu International freestyle tournament March 12-14 in Ankara, Turkey. Tanabe pinned Turkey’s entry at the 2002 world championships Ersin Cetin in a preliminary pool match after giving up an 4-0 lead. The Tokyo police officer also pinned Korea’s Yang Jae-Hoon in the quarterfinals.

    Tanabe, however, lost to world bronze medalist Oleksei Zakharuk of Ukraine 5-0. In the match for third place, Tanabe had little trouble fashioning a 5-0 win over Murat Geneturk of Turkey.

    Ikematsu, the bronze medalist at 66 kg at last year’s world meet, eased through his preliminary pool and was leading Turkey’s Levent Kaleli 3-0 in the semifinals. He lost by fall, however, when he was flipped to his back while attempting to add to his lead. In the match for third place, Ikematsu gave up the first point to Kyanysli Sulermenov, but then took advantage of the Kazakh wrestler’s mistakes to forge a 6-1 win.

    The 66-kg crown went to 18-year-old Russian phenom Makhach Murtazaliev, who upset compatriot and reigning world champion Irbek Farniev 4-2 in the finals of the Yarygin International in January.

    At 74 kg, Kunihiko Obata dropped a 4-1 decision to 2002 world student champion Fahretten Oezata of Turkey in the first round and failed to advance out of his pool.

Results of Japanese entries:

55 kg - TANABE, Chikara (3rd, 22 entries)
R1 - bye
R2 - df. Mustafa Kartal (TUR) by TF, 2:04
R3 - df. Ersin Cetin by fall (TUR) by fall, 5:41 (8-6)
QF - df. Yang Jae-Hoon (KOR) by fall, 2:11 (6-0)
SF - lost to Oleksei Zakharuk (UKR), 5-0
F3 - df. Murat Geneturk (TUR), 5-0

66 kg - IKEMATSU, Kazuhiko (3rd, 20 entries)
R1 - df. Mucahit Ozturk (TUR), 4-0
R2 - df. Abdullah Cakirer (TUR), 5-0
R3 - df. Baek Jin-Kuk (KOR) by default
SF - lost to Levent Kaleli (TUR) by fall, 3:28 (3-4)
F3 - df. Sulermenov Kyanysli (KAZ), 6-1

74 kg - OBATA, Kunihiko (dnp, 25 entries)
R1 - lost to Fahrettin Oezata (TUR), 4-1
R2 - bye
R3 - df. Byung Kwan-Cho (KOR), 10-1


    TOKYO (March 26) - The Japan Wrestling Federation is ready to help the Iraq Wrestling Federation by accepting Iraqi wrestlers at its training camps prior to this summer’s Olympic Games in Athens. Iraq, which did not see any of its wrestlers qualify for the Olympics at last year’s world championships or at the qualifying competitions in February and March, is widely expected to receive a number of wild card berths.

   Iraqi wrestlers could join the Japanese training camps as early as April. The JWF has also extended support to the Afghan Wrestling Federation and sent national team coach Kosei Akaishi to Afghanistan in the summer of 2002 to help the team prepare for the Asian Games that fall in South Korea. The JWF said that it wanted to help with the revival of sports in countries disrupted by war or civil strife and indicated that Afghan wrestlers may also join in the Japanese training camps.


   NIIGATA, Niigata Prefecture (March 28) - Kasumigaura high school of Ibaraki Prefecture defeated Akita Shogyo high school 6-1 for the team title in the national high school invitational meet at Niigata municipal gymnasium. Kasumigaura, which was the defending champion, won the team title for a 14th team and had three champions in the individual competition.

   In the team semifinals, Kasumigaura downed Kosei Gakuin of Aomori 5-2 and Akita Shogyo stopped Saitama Sakae by the same score. Kosei Gakuin and Saitama Sakae both took home third-place honors.

Individual winners were:
50 kg - Kazutoshi Fukudome (Kasumigaura)
55 kg - Isshin Kuramoto (Hino, Shiga)
60 kg - Shigeki Ozawa (Kasumigaura)
66 kg - Shu Miyahara (Akita Shogyo)
74 kg - Aoi Otsuki (Nihon Bunri Daifu, Oita)
84 kg - Toshio Kobayashi (Ueda Nishi, Nagano)
96 kg - Ryota Kimaku (Kasumigaura)
120 kg - Shinya Arakida (Kosei Gakuin)


   TOKYO (March 21) - Olympic hopeful Masaki Imuro defeated Sydney Olympian Kazuyuki Miyata 3-0 in overtime to earn a berth in the Meiji Nyugyo Cup national invitational finals. Imuro, who failed to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games at 66 kg, moved up to 74 kg to defeat Miyata and keep his hopes for a ticket to Athens alive.

   Japan has a berth secured at 74 kg in the greco-roman event thanks to a 10th place finish at last year’s world championships by Kazuhiko Nagata. The 74-kg position remains up for grabs after Nagata lost in the finals of the national championships last December.

   The Meiji Nyugyo Cup meet will serve as a qualification meet for the Japanese Olympic team for 74 kg in greco-roman and the other undecided weight categories -- 60 kg and 84 kg in freestyle and 55 kg, 60 kg and 84 kg in greco-roman.

   Also in the invitational preliminaries held at the national training center, former national team member Ryosuke Ota and 2002 student world champion at 55 kg Tomohiro Matsunaga both won a pair of matches to advance to the main event at 60 kg.

   In greco-roman, former national team member Tomoya Murata won by technical fall and fall to open his bid for the 55-kg berth won by Masatoshi Toyota in Tashkent on March 7.


   TOKYO (March 21) - Reigning world champion Seiko Yamamoto and former FILA wrestler-of-the-year Hitomi Sakamoto have submitted entries for the national team trials for the Asian championships in May. Four-time world champion Yamamoto, who lost out in her bid for an Olympic team berth at 55 kg to Saori Yoshida earlier this month, will vie for the 59-kg slot on the national team against 12 other entries.

   Sakamoto, the world champion in 2000 and 2001, is entered at 51 kg and will face the challenge of Asia champion Ninako Hattori and junior world champion Sachiko Akasaka. At 67 kg, national team veteran Norie Saito drops back down to her weight after an unsuccessful bid for the 72-kg Olympic berth held by Kyoko Hamaguchi.

   Former world champion Ayako Shoda, last year’s Asian champion at 63 kg, will challenge Saito along with Eri Sakamoto. Olympic team members Yoshida, Hamaguchi and Kaori Icho (63) will fill out Japan’s team for the Asia championships.

   The 48-kg slot will be finished by the winner of a special wrestle-off between national champion Chiharu Icho and Japan Queens Cup winner Makiko Sakamoto.


   TOKYO (March 19) - Former national team heavyweight Kohei Suwama announced that he is joining the All-Japan Professional Wrestling organization. Suwama, 28, decided to make the move to pro wrestling after national champion Akihito Tanaka failed to qualify Japan for the Olympics at 120 kg. Suwama, who hails from Kanagawa Prefecture, competed in judo and wrestling for Fujimine Gakuen high school and then turned his attention to wrestling at Chuo University.

   Suwama won the national invitational title last year and represented Japan at the Asian and world championships.