To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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

May wrestling news


TOKYO (May 20-22) - Takushoku University edged Waseda 4-3 in the final of the East Japan collegiate wrestling championship to wins its first league title in four years and third overall. It was also the first title for Takushoku under new head coach and former mixed martial arts fighter Genki Sudo. Takushoku spotted Waseda a win at 55kg, then reeled off three straight wins before sealing with championship with a triumph by team captain Kenji Fujimoto at 96kg.

Prior to the final, Takushoku completed pool competition with a 5-2 win over Kokushikan to finish the preliminaries undefeated with seven wins. Waseda, meanwhile, needed a 5-2 win over Nippon Sports Science University to finish with a 6-1 record in group competition. Waseda, NSSU and Nihon University all posted identical won-lost records, but Waseda advanced to the final by virtue of having more wins in individual matches. Waseda, last year’s collegiate duals national champion, was seeking its first league title in 61 years.

Meanwhile, the National Defense Academy of Japan edged Rikkyo University in the second division championship final. Neither school, however, could advance to the first division, after falling in relegation-promotion matches with the two last-place teams in the first division.


TOKYO (May 20) - Reigning world champion Mio Nishimaki will lead a team comprising some of Japan’s top young female wrestling talent to the Austrian Ladies Open in June. The Austrian Open, being held in Goetzis on June 13, is one of the top women’s wrestling events in Europe and will serve as a qualifying competition for the Golden Grand Prix final in Baku, Azerbaijan, in July.

Also joining Nishimaki on the Japanese squad are two-time world bronze medalist Makiko Sakamoto and newly crowned Asia champions Chikako Matsukawa and Yurika Ito. Meanwhile, 59kg national champion Kei Yamana withdrew her name from the squad since she will face world champion Ayako Shoda in a wrestle-off for a spot on Japan’s world team on June 21.

The select squad will be led by head coach Kenji Fujikawa and assistant coach Hitomi Sakamoto, the former FILA wrestler of the year who retired from competition last October after winning her sixth world champion’s title.

The Japanese line-up:
48kg - Makiko Sakamoto, Ayano Suzuki
51kg - Yuri Kai
55kg - Chikako Matsukawa
59kg - Yurika Ito
63kg - Mio Nishimaki
67kg - Chiaki Ijima
72kg - Asuka Sano, Mami Shinkai


TOKYO (May 26) - World silver medalist Makoto Sasamoto and Beijing bronze medalist Kenji Yumoto are entered in next month’s Meiji Nyugyo Cup All-Japan invitational with a chance to qualify for Japan’s team for this year’s world championships in Denmark. The top eight finishers from each of the men’s categories at last December’s national championships are qualified for the invitational along with 4-5 entries recommended by the Japan Wrestling Federation’s national team committee.

Sasamoto, who fell in the 66kg quarterfinals at the national championships, received a berth at 60kg in greco-roman. Sasamoto has wrestled in three Olympic Games -- Sydney, Athens and Beijing -- and took the silver medal in the 2007 world championships.

In freestyle, Yumoto, who sat out the nationals, is entered at 60kg in a very competitive category with reigning champ Shogo Maeda and 2006 world bronze medal winner Norikatsu Takatsuka.

The invitational will be held June 20-21 at Yoyogi Gymnasium in Tokyo.


OSAKA (May 18) - The West Japan collegiate wrestling association cancelled its spring league tournament after an outbreak of the H1N1 flu in the Osaka and Kobe area. The tourney had been slated for May 23-24 in Sakai, just outside of Osaka. Osaka health authorities, in a report released on May 21, reported that there had been 99 confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu in the area.

Wrestling officials noted that a number of events in the area had already been cancelled and cited the growing risk of infection as reason enough to cancel the wrestling tourney.

UPDATE: On May 31, the association decided to re-schedule the league’s spring tourney on July 4-5 at Sakai’s Kanaoka Park Gymnasium. The league’s frosh-soph meet had been set for those dates, but the new faces’ competition was moved to August 8-9 at Kansai University.


TOKYO (May 13) - Japan’s first wrestler to compete in three Olympic Games Shunichi Kawano passed away on May 12. He was 72. The cause of death was not made public following the wishes of the family.

Kawano, a graduate of Hosei University, wrestled in the Rome (1960), Tokyo (1964) and Mexico City (1968) Olympic Games, each time at the light heavyweight division. He also wrestled in the world championships four times, taking a bronze medal 1962.

After retiring from competition, Kawano served as head coach of the Japan Self-Defense Forces team and as chairman of the administrative and public relations committees of the Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation.


TOKYO (May 20) - The chairman of the board of directors of the Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation from 1969 to 1981 Norio Ikari passed away in hospital from complications with pneumonia. He was 93.

As a youth, Ikari practiced judo, but after entering Waseda University was convinced by Ichiro Hatta to try wrestling. He was a training partner with 1936 Berlin Olympian Eiichi Kazama, but saw his wrestling career interrupted by World War II.

After the war, Ikari became an international referee and took part in the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympic Games. He served on the Grand Jury at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Ikari served as chairman of the board of directors for the JAWF from April 1969 to March 1981 and was the general manager for the wrestling team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. After his stint as chairman, Ikari remained a top advisor to the wrestling federation as honorary vice president.