To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee


TOKYO (December 21) - Masaki Imuro won(the red of right photo) his eighth straight senior national championship title, defeating Japan Self-Defense Forces teammate Tsutomu Fujimura in the 66-kg greco-roman final.

Imuro, an Asian Games bronze medalist one year ago, breezed into the final at Yoyogi No. 2 Gymnasium in Tokyo, but struggled against Fujimura before securing a 1x-1, 1-3, 1x-1 victory on last point criteria. “I’m just happy I won,” Imuro said with a look of relief after the hard-fought final. He added later that he will now concentrate on winning the Asian championships in mid-March in order to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games next summer.

Imuro’s triumph also made the former Takushoku University star the sixth wrestler in Japanese wrestling history to win eight straight national titles.

The first to win eight straight all-Japan titles was Yuji Takada (1973-1980). Most recently, Shingo Matsumoto won his eighth in a row at last year’s championships.

Also in greco-roman, Kohei Hasegawa from behind to upset Athens Olympian Masatoshi Toyota in three periods in the 55-kg final for his first senior national title. Hasegawa becomes the first alumnus of Aoyama Gakuin University to wear the all-Japan crown.

In freestyle, veteran heavyweights Kiyotaka Kodaira (96 kg) and Akihito Tanaka (120) won their sixth and seventh all-Japan titles, respectively.

Meanwhile, former world bronze medalist Kazuhiko Ikematsu(right photo) advanced through a tough field at 66 kg and defeated defending champion Takafumi Kojima in the final for his first all-Japan title in three years. “I’m happy to win,” Ikematsu said after securing victory over his regular practice partner with a late takedown in the third period. “It was completely (Kojima’s) pace. I have to improve on my own wrestling.”

Also on the first day of the all-Japan meet, the three non-Olympic weight categories for women were contested with world champion Hitomi Sakamoto winning her fifth title at 51 kg.

Mizuka Kajita won her first senior national crown at 59 kg, while the defending champion at 59-kg, Mio Nishimaki, moved up to 67 kg for a convincing win.

Nishimaki, a two-time junior world champ, defeated 2006 world bronze medalist Eri Sakamoto in the semifinals and then pinned Japan Queens Cup winner Mami Shinkai in the final.

Results of the championship and semifinal bouts:

Men’s freestyle

66 kg
F1 - Kazuhiko Ikematsu df. Takafumi Kojima, 2-1 (1-0=2:07, 0-3, 2-0)
SF - Ikematsu df. Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, 2-0 (1-0=2:15, 1-0=2:06)
SF - Kojima df. Takayuki Suzuki, 2-0 (3-0=2:06, 3-0)

96 kg
F1 - Kiyotaka Kodaira df. Takao Isokawa, 2-1 (3-0=2:05, 0-2=2:12, 1-0)
SF - Kodaira df. Jun Aisawa, 2-0 (1-0, 6-0=1:02)
SF - Isokawa df. Kenzo Sakamoto, 2-0 (3-1, 1-0)

120 kg
F1 - Akihito Tanaka df. Nobuyoshi Arakida, 2-0 (1-0, 2-1)
SF - Tanaka df. Tsutomu Takabayashi, 2-1 (0-1=2:04, 6-0=0:35, 1-0)
SF - Arakida df. Norihiro Sakurai, 2-1 (0-3=2:03, 5-0=2:03, 3-0)

Men’s greco-roman

55 kg
F1 - Kohei Hasegawa df. Masatoshi Toyota, 2-1 (1-4, 1x-1, 3-0)
SF - Hasegawa df. Ryo Minemura, 2-0 (2-0, 1x-1)
SF - Toyota df. Tomoya Murata, 2-0 (2-0, 6-0=1:18)

66 kg
F1 - Masaki Imuro df. Tsutomu Fujimura, 2-1 (1x-1, 1-3, 1x-1)
SF - Imura df. Noritomo Eto by fall, 2P=1:12 (1x-1, 5-0)
SF - Fujimura df. Kazuhiko Naruse, 2-0 (1x-1, 3-0)

Women’s freestyle

51 kg
F1 - Hitomi Sakamoto df. Yuri Kai, 2-0 (4-0, 2-0)
SF - Sakamoto df. Yu Sekine, 2-0 (6-0=1:13, 2-0)
SF - Kai df. Naho Watanabe, 2-0 (5-0, 6-1)

59 kg
F1 - Mizuka Kajita df. Yoshiko Inoue, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
SF - Kajita df. Kayoko Shimada, 2-0 (1-0, 2-0)
SF - Inoue df. Kaya Tsuda, 2-0 (2-0, 6-0=1:27)

67 kg
F1 - Mio Nishimaki df. Mami Shinkai by fall, 2P=1:06 (1-0, 4-0)
SF - Nishimaki df. Eri Sakamoto, 2-0 (3-1, 1-0)
SF - Shinkai df. Asuka Sano, 2-1 (0-3, 2-1, 1-0)