To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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

January wrestling news


TOKYO (January 7) - Four-time world champion Seiko Yamamoto, now Seiko Nagashima, announced that she is coming out of retirement in a bid to wrestle in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Nagashima, 28, won her fourth world title in 2003 at 59kg, but was unable to unseat Saori Yoshida at 55kg for the Japanese national team spot for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens where female wrestling made its Olympic debut.

She retired in 2006 and has been working as a guest on Japanese radio and television broadcasts at a number of wrestling competitions. After retiring in 2006, Yamamoto married Japanese national handball team member Hideaki Nagashima and gave birth to a son in September 2007. Her Olympic dream was rekindled after covering the Beijing Olympic Games last summer for a Japanese radio network.

“The Beijing Games were the first time that I had seen the Olympics and I decided then that I wanted to try and wrestle on this stage,” Nagashima said. Nagashima said she would challenge Yoshida again at 55kg and that her plans were to wrestle in the national championships in December. In order to do that, she said she would try to qualify for the nationals at the Japan Women’s Open in October.

Nagashima has been training since shortly after her return from the Beijing Olympics last summer and spent much of January training at camps in Austria and Hungary.


TOKYO (January 9) - The Japanese men’s national teams kicked off their first training camp under new national team director Mitsuru Sato, but not with the usual sweat and hard wrestling of a training session.

The first day of the camp under the 1988 Olympic Games gold medalist was reserved for meetings in which Sato explained that he wanted the wrestlers and coaches “headed in the same direction with a heightened awareness (of their goals).”

Sato the wrestlers and coaches at the National Training Center that he wanted them to “have pride in being wrestlers” and that he wanted “everyone to aim for the gold medal in London.”

The Japanese men are planning a number of training camps at the NTC through March and April as they prepare for their first major post-Olympic competition, the 2009 Asian championships in Thailand in May.


TOKYO (January 24) - The Japan Wrestling Federation decided on its winter tour schedule for the men’s teams, sending the freestyle and greco-roman teams to two events each in February.

The freestyle squad is set to compete at the Yasar Dogu international in Ankara, Turkey, February 7-8 and then the Dan Kolov international the following week in Varna, Bulgaria. The freestyle squad will include the two finalists from the national championships in the categories up to 74kg, with national champs in the heavier weights going to train and compete in the United States.

The greco-roman team will wrestle at the Nikola Petrov international, also in Varna, Bulgaria, February 14-15, and following a training camp in Bulgaria, will travel to Szombathely, Hungary for the grand prix event February 28-March 1. The greco-roman squad will include the finalists at the national championships in the categories up to 74kg and the national champs at the three heavier weights.

Coaches: Chikara Tanabe, Kenji Inoue
55kg - Shinichi Yumoto, Yasuhiro Inaba
60kg - Shogo Maeda, Shinya Odate
66kg - Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, Kazuki Morikawa
74kg - Kazuyuki Nagashima, Hiroki Kayamori

Coaches - Yasutoshi Motoki, Masatoshi Toyoda
55kg - Kohei Hasegawa, Ryo Minemura
60kg - Ryota Sato, Yasuyuki Tanioka
66kg - Tsutomu Fujimura, Hiroyuki Shimizu
74kg - Tsukasa Tsurumaki, Takehiro Kanakubo
84kg - Norikatsu Saikawa
96kg - Katsuya Kitamura
120kg - Atsushi Nakamura


TOKYO (January 18) - A total of 151 wrestlers took part in the All-Japan Masters wrestling championships at the Olympic Youth Memorial Center, making it the largest event yet for Japanese veteran wrestlers.

Former senior national champions Hiroki Sekikawa and Kenji Koshiba won in the youngest division for wrestlers 35-40 years old, while Toshio Asakura, freestyle world champion in 1981, won in division C for wrestlers 51-60 years old.

Meanwhile, Katsuyoshi Yonemori renewed his record as the oldest wrestler in the competition at 83 years old. In the first women’s wrestling competition, Junko Yamada(blue) made her mat debut at 64 years old, saying she started wrestling two years ago after being inspired by Saori Yoshida’s gold medal triumph at the Athens Olympics.


TOKYO (January 20) - The Japanese Olympic Committee has decided to promote wrestling to its highest category, “Special A,” for fiscal 2009. This means wrestling, which had been in category A, will join swimming and judo as the highest ranking sports to receive JOC funds for training.

Japanese wrestlers won six medals at last summer’s Beijing Olympic Games, including two gold medals from Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho.

Swimming and judo both received about 100 million yen from the JOC in fiscal 2008. But in order to receive the funds available, a federation needs to raise funds equal to one-half of the JOC’s share. In other words, in order to receive 100 million yen, a special A federation would have to raise 50 million yen of its own funds for a total of 150 million yen. If wrestling can only raise 30 million yen, for example, the JOC would only allot 60 million yen to the federation.


TOKYO (January 29) - Three-time Olympic champion Alexander Karelin gave a wrestling clinic at the National Training Center in Tokyo for Japanese national team members and others interested in learning from wrestling’s “greatest-ever champion.”

The 41-year-old Karelin was invited by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, which also extended invitations to a number of Russian sports personalities who are currently members of the Russian parliament.

Karelin led the Japanese wrestlers through a 90-minute training session, explaining techniques and strategies, and then answering questions for the wrestlers, coaches and journalists.