To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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


TOKYO (June 9) - Shingo Matsumoto won a record eighth straight title and Makoto Sasamoto won for a seventh year in a row on the opening day of the Meiji Nyugyo Cup national invitational tournament. The victories ensured Japan痴 greco-roman mainstays berths on the Japanese team headed to the world championships in Baku, Azerbaijan in September.

Five positions on the greco-roman squad as well as three on the men's freestyle team were decided on the first day of competition at Yoyogi No. 2 Gymnasium in Tokyo. Along with Matsumoto and Sasamoto, national team regulars Masatoshi Sasamoto (55 kg), Masaki Imuro (66) and Kenzo Kato had their tickets punched for Baku.

In freestyle, Takayuki Suzuki defeated former world bronze medalist Kazuhiko Ikematsu for the MNC title at 66 kg and then edged national champ Takafumi Kojima in a special wrestle-off for the trip to the world meet. Ikematsu had edged Kojima 1-0, 1-0 in the semifinals of the MNC competition, but Kojima qualified for the wrestle-off as reigning national champion.

Meanwhile, Yutaka Suzuki (unrelated to the 66-kg winner), who won his first national title in January, added the MNC crown at 84 kg to secure his first shot at the world championships. Akihito Tanaka returned to Japan痴 world team at 120 kg with a win over young challenger Nobuyoshi Arakida.

G55kg : Masatoshi Toyota G60kg : Makoto Sasamoto G66kg : Shingo Matsumoto

Results of championship finals and national team wrestle-offs (where required):

55 kg (13 entries)
Masatoshi Toyota df. Shingo Hirai, 2-1 (4-1, 0-3, 1L-1)
(Toyota wins 5th overall Meiji title, first since 2005)

60 kg (13 entries)
Makoto Sasamoto df. Ryutaro Matsumoto, 2-1 (0-3, 1L-1, 3-0)
(Sasamoto wins 7th straight, 7th overall Meiji crown)

66 kg (15 entries)
Masaki Imuro df. Tsutomu Fujimura, 2-0 (1L-1, 1L-1)
(Imuro wins 3rd straight, 6th overall MNC title)

84 kg (15 entries)
Shingo Matsumoto df. Mitsuhiro Ota by fall, 2P=0:39 (6-0=1:40, 3-0)
(Matsumoto wins 8th straight, 8th overall MNC title)

96 kg (14 entries)
Kenzo Kato df. Katsuya Kitamura, 2-0 (1L1, 3-0)
(Kato wins 4th overall MNC title, first since 2005)

66 kg (16 entries)
Takayuki Suzuki df. Kazuhiko Ikematsu, 2-0 (1-0, 3-0)
(Suzuki wins 2nd overall MNC title, first since 2004)

National team wrestle-off
Suzuki df. Takafumi Kojima, 2-0 (3-0=2:05, 1L-1)

84 kg (16 entries)
Yutaka Suzuki df. Shinya Matsumoto, 2-0 (2-0, 2-1)
(Suzuki wins 1st MNC title)

120 kg (12 entries)
Akihito Tanaka df. Nobuyoshi Arakida, 2-0 (1-0, 2-0)
(Tanaka wins 4th overall MNC title, first since 2005)