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2022.12.31

Japan Wrestling Federation News ― December 2022 [III] (Emperor’s Cup ― Greco-Roman)

 

High schooler Kanazawa makes history as Fumita triumphs, Yabiku tumbles

As a Tokyo teen was making history by becoming the first-ever high schooler to win a Greco-Roman title at the Emperor’s Cup All-Japan Championships, Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Kenichiro FUMITA remained a rock of supremacy while bronze medalist Shohei YABIKU had a rocky tournament.

Olympic silver medalist Kenichiro FUMITA works to lift Maito KAWANA in the 60kg final.

Fumita, aiming for an elusive gold at the 2024 Paris Olympics, scored three points in each period for a 6-0 victory in the 60kg final over Maito KAWANA on the final day of the four-day tournament held Dec. 22-25 at Tokyo’s Komazawa Gym.

On the opening day, Kohaku KANAZAWA of Tokyo’s Jiyugaoka Gakuen High School etched his name in the history books by becoming the first-ever high schooler to win a Greco title with an 8-7 win over Waseda University’s Taiga ONISHI in the 55kg final.

As a potential sign of a generational change, Kanazawa was one of five first-time champions — exactly half of the titles at stake — in the tournament serving as the first qualifier for next year’s World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

Fumita, who could be regarded as part of the old guard after winning a fourth national title and first since 2020, moved halfway to earning a return trip to the World Championships, where last year, also in Belgrade, he had to settle for a bronze medal after taking gold in 2017 and 2019.

This year, there will be more at stake. The 2023 worlds offers the first qualifying spots for the 2024 Paris Olympics, and a medal in an Olympic weight class will earn a Japanese wrestler an automatic ticket to Paris.

The eventual team to Belgrade will be decided based on the results of the Emperor’s Cup and the second domestic qualifier, the Meiji Cup All-Japan Invitational Championships in June. A victory at both secures a place on a team; if the winners are different, a playoff will be held.

For Fumita, winning the title on Sunday was more immediately aimed at restoring the good name of the Nippon Sports Science University alumni, of which he is one, following a number of earlier setbacks in Greco.

Most notably, Yabiku failed to make the final at 77kg and lost in a bronze-medal match, while Katsuaki ENDO was unable to defend his 67kg title after losing in the final to a current NSSU student whom had previously beaten several times.

“Overall, it hadn’t been a good tournament for the alumni from Nittaidai, for Shohei and Katsuaki,” Fumita said, using the familiar term for NSSU. “In Greco, we have wrestled poorly.”

In the final against the Self-Defense Force Physical Training School’s Kawana, Fumita scored a gut wrench from par terre in the first period, and a takedown and stepout in the second.

“I was able to get it together in my wrestling and get the points when I had the opportunity,” Fumita said. “I wanted to end it with a technical fall, but I had injured my thumb and it was painful, and I had to take something off my attacks.”

It was an improved showing from his opening match, when he got thrown for 4 in a 7-4 victory over Kaito INABA, another current student at NSSU.

“In my first match yesterday, the bad side of me came out,” Fumita said. “After that, I thought I had to turn it around and stop the bad flow so I aimed to get a good result. And I won and took a step closer to Paris.”

With the top wrestlers from non-Olympic weights funneling into the Olympic divisions, the raised level of competition left some favorites falling by the wayside. Failing to get past the quarterfinals at 60kg were world 55kg bronze medalist Yu SHIOTANI and two-time Asian bronze medalist Ayata SUZUKI.

Olympic bronze medalist Shohei YABIKU was dealt a 77kg quarterfinal loss by Nao KUSAKA, left, then later lost a bronze-medal playoff.

Yabiku, who underwent back surgery a year ago and has since been troubled by other injuries, saw his title hopes end at the first hurdle when he lost a 1-1 decision to collegiate champion Nao KUSAKA, a training partner at NSSU and world U23 bronze medalist.

“It can’t be said I’m in the best condition, but as long as I’m taking the mat, I’m thinking of winning, so I don’t want that to be an excuse,” said Yabiku.

Both received passivity points but could not score from par terre in the first period, with Kusaka’s coming second to put him ahead on criteria. Yabiku had a chance in the second period when Kusaka was put on bottom of par terre, but the Olympic bronze medalist could not take advantage.

“What I mostly rely on was stopped,” Yabiku said, who opened eyes at the Tokyo Olympics with his spectacular throws. “We practice together every day, so he knows me very well. The big reason for the loss was my ground attack. I’m confident I can defend on the ground, but my offense has become a source of anxiety. Bad things come out in me.”

Yabiku’s troubles didn’t end there, as he ended up losing 3-3 to Tatsuya FUJII in one of the third-place playoffs.

The 77kg gold went to defending champion Kodai SAKURABA, who returned from injury issues of his own that kept him out of the Meiji Cup and defeated Kusaka by 10-1 technical fall. Sakuraba scored a pair of 2-point exposures from par terre in the first period, and finished the match at 5:43 when he stopped a throw attempt for the winning takedown.

At 67kg, world U20 bronze medalist Kyotaro SOGABE of NSSU lived up to the expectations that have been placed on him since high school by winning his first senior national title with a 9-3 win over Endo in the final, his first-ever official victory over his elder partner in the NSSU stable.

Sogabe led 3-1 when he came up on top in a late second-period scramble for 2, then added a pair of gut wrenches to avenge a loss in the Meiji Cup final to Endo, an Asian bronze medalist this year and 2018 world U23 champion.

“Winning the All-Japan has long been a goal of mine, and not being able to beat Endo has been a continual source of frustration,” Sogabe said.

Kohaku KANAZAWA, right, became the first-ever high schooler to win a national Greco title by beating Taiga ONISHI in the 55kg final.

Meanwhile, a potential future star emerged in Kanazawa, who, as the first high schooler to win a Greco title, naturally also becomes the youngest-ever champion in that style at age 17 years 4 months. That easily eclipsed the record of 19 years 0 months set by Kusaka in 2019 when he won the 72kg title.

Kanazawa certainly earned his gold, beating world U23 bronze medalist Onishi in a wild, back-and-forth final in which he lead changed hands six times.

After Onishi received a passivity point and was put on top in par terre, Kanazawa stepped over on a roll attempt to go up 2-1. Onishi retook the lead with a stepout and then stopped a throw attempt for a takedown to lead 4-2 at the break.

In the second period, Kanazawa went up 5-4 with a gut wrench from par terre. Onishi responded with a front headlock roll for 2, but Kanazawa managed to slip out for a reversal, giving him a 6-6 lead on criteria. He clinched the win with a spin-behind takedown with :34 left, as Onishi could only manage a late stepout.

Kanazawa, who is a cousin of Suzuki’s, is currently a junior at Jiyugaoka Gakuen, which has also produced Endo, Shiotani and 2021 world freestyle 61kg bronze medalist Toshihiro HASEGAWA.

“Shiotani made it to the final as a high school senior, so that was my goal,” Kanazawa said, adding, “With [2021 world champion] Ken MATSUI and Yu [Shiotani] not entered, and a field filled with collegians, I thought I had a chance.”

Kanazawa said one future goal is to become Japan’s youngest-ever male world champion, a distinction currently held by Takuto OTOGURO, who was 19 years 10 months when he won the freestyle 65kg gold in 2018.

The record for youngest male All-Japan champion has stood since 1989, when Kasumigaura High School’s Yuji ISHIJIMA won the freestyle 52kg title at 17 years 1 month of age.

As an aside, Kanazawa’s coach, three-time former champion Shota TANOKURA, returned to the All-Japan for the first time since retiring after placing eighth at the 2018 World Championships ando won a bronze medal at 60kg.

The 32-year-old Tanokura said he was urged to give it a shot by a “family member” — his wife’s older brother’s wife, Tokyo Olympic chamion Mayu SHIDOCHI.

Sumi bests SDF teammate Sogabe again

In what is becoming a ritualistic duel, Masato SUMI again got the best of Self-Defense Forces Physical Training School teammate So SAKABE, winning 5-1 at 87kg in a repeat of last year’s final for his sixth career title.

Holding the lead on criteria after each received a passivity point, Sumi was put on the bottom of par terre in the final minute, but Sakabe could not budge the 2018 Asian silver medalist. In the final seconds, Sumi shrugged Sakabe by and pushed him to his back for a victory-clinching 4-pointer.

“The way the match went was too close,” the 28-year-old Sumi said. “I’m happy, but there are many problems I need to fix. As practice partners, we learn a lot about each other and build each other up. But because of that, I couldn’t get any rolls which I am usually good at.”

Sakabe, the older of the two by five months, won their first meeting in a major final at the 2020 Emperor’s Cup, but Sumi has held the upper hand since, winning gold-medal clashes at last year’s Emperor’s Cup and the Meiji Cup last June.

Sumi, who this year went to his fourth World Championships in the past eight years but has yet to win a match, said his goal is to get to the Paris Olympics, after which he would retire after “winning the title” at the 2024 National Games in his home Saga Prefecture.

Yuta NARA, right, won his fifth career title and first since 2019 win a win over Masayuki AMANO in the 97kg final.

Yuta NARA, who had won four consecutive titles from 2016 to 2019, regained the 97kg crown with a 3-0 victory over 2020 champion Masayuki AMANO. Nara, who received a passivity point in the first period, scored an impressive takedown by dipping low and driving into Amano’s chest in the second period.

Nara, a product of NSSU, said he was just as elated with his 5-0 victory the previous day in the semifinal over current NSSU student and Meiji Cup champion Yuri NAKAZATO. Nakazato was the losing finalist at last year’s Emperor’s Cup to Takahiro TSURUTA, the Asian bronze medalist who skipped the tournament due to injury.

Another former champion who returned to the top of the podium was Yuya MAEDA, after defeating Masao TANAKA 7-5 in the 82kg final.

The 28-year-old Maeda trailed by four points in the second period when he scored a stepout and gut wrench from par terre to tie the match at 5-5, which still left him behind on criteria. But he spun behind for a takedown with :39 left to secure his fourth career title and first since 2017.

In other finals, world U20 bronze medalist Chiezo MARUYAMA (63kg), 2021 Asian bronze medalist Taishi HORIE (72kg) and Sota OKUMURA (130kg) all won their first titles, albeit in the absence of the defending champions due to injury or other reasons.

NSSU’s Maruyama avenged a loss in the Meiji Cup final to world U23 bronze medalist and NSSU grad Ryuto IKEDA, winning 6-1. Maruyama scored a 4-point throw from par terre in the first period and a reversal in the second.

At 72kg, Horie moved closer to a second straight trip to the World Championships when he overwhelmed NSSU’s Shoki NAKADA (NSSU) by a 9-0 technical fall that included a spinning 4-point throw.

Takushoku University’s Okumura grinded out a 3-3 victory over NSSU’s Shion OBATA as both wrestlers scored with a gut wrench from par terre, but Okumura’s came last to give him the win on criteria.

It was a repeat of Okumura’s 3-1 victory over Obata in the final at the national collegiate championships in August.

–By Ken Marantz


Results

55kg (15 entries)
Gold – Kohaku KANAZAWA (Jiyugaoka Gakuen H.S.) df. Taiga ONISHI (Waseda Univ.), 8-7
Bronze – Shoya ITO (Senshu Univ.) df. Shu HIRATA (Chuo Univ.) by TF, 10-1, 1:54
Bronze – Mizuki ARAKI (Kyushu Kyoritsu Univ.) df. Kagetora OKAMOTO (Senshu Univ.) by Def.
Semifinal – Kohaku KANAZAWA df. Shoya ITO, 10-6
Semifinal – Taiga ONISHI df. Kagetora OKAMOTO by TF, 8-0, 2:21
(Kanazawa won 1st title)

60kg (11 entries)
Gold – Kenichiro FUMITA (Miki House) df. Maito KAWANA (SDF PTS), 6-0
Bronze – Kaito INABA (NSSU Graduate School) df. Kosei TAKESHITA (Takushoku Univ.) by TF, 11-1, 4:22
Bronze – Shota TANOKURA (Jiyugaoka Gakuen H.S. staff) df. Yuto GOMI (Ikuei Univ.), 7-4
Semifinal – Kenichiro FUMITA df. Kosei TAKESHITA by TF, 9-0, 1:59
Semifinal – Maito KAWANA df. Yuto GOMI, 7-0
(Fumita won 4th title, incl. one at 59kg, 1st in 2 years)

63kg (16 entries)
Gold – Chiezo MARUYAMA (NSSU) df. Ryuto IKEDA (NSSU Club), 6-1
Bronze – Kenshin MATSUMOTO (Kanagawa Univ.) df. Ryotaro FUJINAMI (SDF PTS) by Def.
Bronze – Yamato HAGIWARA (Takushoku Univ.) df. Komei SAWADA (Takushoku Univ.), 7-1
Semifinal – Ryuto IKEDA df. Ryotaro FUJINAMI by TF, 8-0, 1:51
Semifinal – Chiezo MARUYAMA df. Komei SAWADA, 5-3
(Maruyama won 1st title)

67kg (13 entries)
Gold – Kyotaro SOGABE (NSSU) df. Katsuaki ENDO (Towa Engineering), 9-3
Bronze – Haruto YABE (NSSU) df. Yuji UEGAKI (SDF PTS), 3-1
Bronze – Eito NISHIDA (Senshu Univ.) df. Shigeki TSUTSUMI (NSSU), 5-2
Semifinal – Katsuaki ENDO df. Haruto YABE, 5-5
Semifinal – Kyotaro SOGABE df. Shigeki TSUTSUMI by TF, 9-0, 2:01
(Sogabe won 1st title)

72kg (11 entries)
Gold – Taishi HORIE (SDF PTS) df. Shoki NAKADA (NSSU) by TF, 9-0, 3:32
Bronze – Daigo KOBAYASHI (Takushoku Univ.) df. Seiya TERADA (Meiji Univ. Club) by Fall, 4:03 (7-3)
Bronze – Tetsuto KANUKA (Ikuei Univ.) df. Yuga KASUGAI (NSSU), 9-5
Semifinal – Taishi HORIE df. Daigo KOBAYASHI, 3-1
Semifinal – Shoki NAKADA df. Tetsuto KANUKA, 7-1
(Horie won 1st title)

77kg (13 entries)
Gold – Kodai SAKURABA (SDF PTS) df. Nao KUSAKA (NSSU) by TF, 10-1, 5:43
Bronze – Tatsuya FUJII (Goto Kaisoten) df. Shohei YABIKU (ALSOK), 3-3
Bronze – Minto MAEDA (Restar Holdings) df. Naoki KADODE (Shiga H.S.) by TF, 9-0, 1:56
Semifinal – Nao KUSAKA df. Tatsuya FUJII, 5-1
Semifinal – Kodai SAKURABA df. Minto MAEDA, 8-6
(Sakuraba won 2nd title, 2nd in row)

82kg (12 entries)
Gold – Yuya MAEDA (Tottori Pref. Wrestling Assn.) df. Masao TANAKA (Tenri Kyoko Gakuen H.S. Staff), 7-5
Bronze – Daizo TANIZAKI (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) df. Muuto SAWADA (Shizuoka Club) by TF, 8-0, 4:10
Bronze – Desshin HIGUCHI df. Kiriru SHIMABUKURO, 9-5
Semifinal – Masao TANAKA df. Muuto SAWADA, 9-4
Semifinal – Yuya MAEDA df. Kiriru SHIMABUKURO by TF, 9-0, 3:33
(Maeda won 4th title, incl. twice at 80kg, 1st in 5 years)

87kg (10 entries)
Gold – Masato SUMI (SDF PTS) df. So SAKABE (SDF PTS), 5-1
Bronze – Yuto MATSUZAKI (Miyazaki Prefectural Fukushima H.S. Staff) df. Daisei ISOE (NSSU) by TF, 9-0, 1:55
Bronze – Yoji KAWAMURA (NSSU) df. Kaito MIYAMOTO (NSSU) by Def.
Semifinal – Masato SUMI df. Daisei ISOE by TF, 8-0, :32
Semifinal – So SAKABE df. Kaito MIYAMOTO by TF, 9-0, 1:58
(Sumi won 6th title, incl. one at 80kg, 2nd in row)

97kg (11 entries)
Gold – Yuta NARA (Tokyo MPD Security Bureau) df. Masayuki AMANO (Chuo Univ. Staff), 3-0
Bronze – Yuri NAKAZATO (Saga Pref. Sports Assn.) df. Kairi YOSHIMURA (Kokushikan Univ.) by TF, 10-0, 4:09
Bronze – Riku NAKAHARA (Daito Bunka Univ.) df. Kyo KITAWAKI (Waseda Univ.) by TF, 8-0, 4:07
Semifinal – Yuta NARA df. Yuri NAKAZATO, 5-0
Semifinal – Masayuki AMANO df. Kyo KITAWAKI by Fall, 1:15 (8-0)
(Nara won 5th title, incl. one at 98kg, 1st in 3 years)

130kg (10 entries)
Gold – Sota OKUMURA (Takushoku Univ.) df. Shion OBATA (NSSU), 3-3
Bronze – Daigo NISHI (Shunan Univ.) df. Koei YAMADA (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.), 1-1
Bronze – Ryuta KONO (Azuma Foods) df. Naoto YAMAGUCHI (Yamaguchi Pref. Wrestling Assn.), 3-1
Semifinal – Shion OBATA df. Daigo NISHI by TF, 9-1, 3:57
Semifinal – Sota OKUMURA df. Ryuta KONO by TF, 11-2, 4:52
(Okumura won 1st title)







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