World Champ Fumita Shows Effective Defensive Side in Regaining Asian Gold

By Ken Marantz

NEW DELHI (Feb. 19) — Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN)  was put on the defensive in the final, but it hardly kept the world champion from regaining the Greco-Roman 60kg gold medal at the Asian Championships.

Fumita scored points off a counter to an arm throw attempt by Zholaman SHARSHENBEKOV (KGZ) and went on to notch a 4-0 victory in the final as the Greco-Roman competition concluded on the second day in New Delhi.

“He’s really good at throws, and I felt that from the first contact,” Fumita said. “So, I kept firmly in mind not letting him complete a throw.”

Just as he regained the world title that he last won in 2017, Fumita regained the Asian gold that he had previously captured three years ago—also in New Delhi. The victory on Wednesday night also assured he will finish at the top of the UWW rankings and gain the top seed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“It’s an honor,” Fumita said of the top seed. “It’s a rare thing, as there have hardly been any Japanese No. 1 going the into Olympics. For me, with No. 1 seed comes responsibility, but I will work hard to be worthy of it.”

Fumita said his main objective coming into New Delhi was to score points from the standing position. While he failed to actually do so in any of his three matches, he said he feels he made progress.

“In the end, I didn’t score any points, but in terms of form, I feel my wrestling was very good,” he said. “My coach said it was good and that I [have the basis] for making more progress.”

Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) shutout Zholaman SHARSHENBEKOV (KGZ), 4-0, and claimed his second Asian gold medal. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In the final, Sharshenbekov, the world U-23 silver medalist, came out aggressively and threw caution to the wind with a twisting arm throw. But Fumita reacted perfectly and stopped the move halfway to gain 2 points. When Sharshenbekov got to his feet, Fumita forced him out for a 3-0 lead. At the end of the first period, Sharshenbekov attempted the same move, but came up with nothing but air. 

In the second period, Fumita gained a point for passivity, but was unable to pad his lead in the par terre position, despite having scored a combined 14 points from it in his previous two matches. Still, he was never put in danger and fought off all further attempts to secure the gold.

By winning the world gold last September in Nur-Sultan, Fumita secured his place at the Tokyo Olympics, which is where his ultimate goal lies. Prospects are high he can end Japan’s long Greco gold drought at the Olympics—the country has not had a Greco champion since Atsuji Miyahara won the 52kg gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Is that something he keeps in mind?

“That was more than 10 years before I was born, so it’s not something I actually have a sense of,” Fumita said. “It’s sad that there hasn’t been a Japanese Greco champion in all that time. For me, I want to get [a gold] and help make Greco more popular.”

Fumita said he will compete one more time before the Tokyo Games, at the Grand Prix of Germany in Dortmund in June. 

RYU Hansu (KOR) scored the 4-1 win over Makhmud BAKHSHILLOEV (UZB) and won his third Asian title. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Ryu preps for Olympic qualifier with continental gold
In other action, former two-time world champion RYU Hansu (KOR) capped his preparatory tournament for next month’s Asian Olympic qualifier by winning hjs second straight 67kg title and third Asian gold overall.

The other three golds at stake all went to Iran, with two of them coming at the expense of Korean opponents. 

Ryu, the 2017 world champion who finished eighth in Nur-Sultan and still needs to qualify for Tokyo 2020, chalked up a 4-1 win in the final over Makhmud BAKHSHILLOEV (UZB), who was coming off a victory at the Matteo Pellicone ranking series event.

Ryu gained a passivity point and a takedown for a 3-0 lead into the second period. Bakhshilloev gained a chance to go ahead when he received a passivity point and the par terre advantage. When he was unable to turn Ryu, his side lost a challenge that Ryu was using his legs to block, giving Ryu a 4-1 lead, which is how the match ended. 

“This competition was a check for me ahead of the next competition,” Ryu said. “It was most important to work on my par terre technique. If I can perfect this technique, I can get a medal at the next competition.”

Almin KAVIYANINEJAD (IRI) ended his finals match early against Ibragim MAGOMADOV (KAZ) with an 8-0 technical superiority win. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In the 72kg final, 2018 world junior champion Almin KAVIYANINEJAD (IRI) put together a 4-point takedown-roll combination in each period, defeating Ibragim MAGOMADOV (KAZ) by 8-0 technical fall in 4:09.

Compatriot Mahdi EBRAHIMI (IRI) followed by adding the senior gold to his Asian U-23 title with a 3-1 win over CHOI Junhyeong (KOR) in the 82kg final. 

World U-23 bronze medalist Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) then capped the night by scoring the go-ahead takedown with :57 left to capture the 97kg gold with a 5-2 win over LEE Seyeol (KOR).

Iran, which also picked up a pair of bronze medals from Mehdi MOHSEN NEJAD (IRI) at 60kg and Hossein ASSADI KOLMATI (IRI) at 67kg, easily won the team title with 190 points. The Iranians took home medals in all but one of the 10 weight classes.

Uzbekistan, which captured three bronze medals on the final day, finished second with 146 points, 10 ahead of Kazakhstan in third.

Host India had no finalists on Wednesday, but went 3-for-3 in the third-place matches, much to the delight of the sparse home crowd at K.D. Jadhav Wrestling Stadium. Winning bronzes were Ashu ASHU (IND) at 67kg, Aditya KUNDU (IND) at 72kg and Hardeep HARDEEP (IND) at 97kg.

The most exciting bronze-medal match came at 82kg, in which world 77kg bronze medalist Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) was losing 2-1 to Yevgeniy POLIVADOV (KAZ), only to execute a nifty duck-under tackle that sent his opponent to his back for a fall with :12 left. 

The competition continues Thursday with five weight classes (50kg, 55kg, 59kg, 68kg, 76kg) in women’s wrestling. 

Day 2 results


60kg (10 entries)
GOLD – Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) df. Zholaman SHARSHENBEKOV (KGZ), 4-0
BRONZE - Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) df. Gyanender GYANENDER (IND), 6-0 

67kg (11 entries)
GOLD – RYU Hansu (KOR) df. Makhmud BAKHSHILLOEV (UZB), 4-1
BRONZE - Ashu ASHU (IND) df. Abdulkarim ALHASAN (SYR), 8-1

72kg (9 entries)
GOLD – Almin KAVIYANINEJAD (IRI) df. Ibragim MAGOMADOV (KAZ) by TF, 8-0, 4:09
BRONZE - Ruslan TSAREV (KGZ) df. CHEN Yan Kai (TPE) by Fall, :41 (8-0)
BRONZE - Aditya KUNDU (IND) df. Nao KUSAKA (JPN) by TF, 8-0, 1:46

82kg (7 entries)
GOLD – Mahdi EBRAHIMI (IRI) df. CHOI Junhyeong (KOR), 3-1
BRONZE - Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) df. Yevgeniy POLIVADOV (KAZ) by Fall, 5:48 (8-2)

97kg (10 entries)
GOLD – Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) df. LEE Seyeol (KOR), 5-2
BRONZE - Muhammadali SHAMSIDDINOV (UZB) df. Ponlawat SIAMMAI (THA) by Fall, :24 (4-0) 
BRONZE - Hardeep HARDEEP (IND) df. Beksultan MAKHMUDOV (KGZ), 3-1 


Kaisanov Caps Eventful Week by Repeating as Asian 74kg Champ

By Ken Marantz

NEW DELHI (Feb. 23)—It’s been a good week for Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ). Five days after he was upgraded to the world bronze medal that he felt should have been his all along, he clinched a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics by successfully defending his freestyle 74kg title at the Asian Championships.

Kaisanov edged local favorite Jitender JITENDER (IND) 3-1 in the final as Kazakhstan captured two of the remaining five gold medals at stake on the final day of action at New Delhi’s K.D. Jadhav Wrestling Stadium.

“I believed I could win the Asian championship a second time,” Kaisanov said. “This gold medal was very important to me.”

It’s value was enhanced because the Kazakhstan federation informed him that a gold medal in New Delhi would automatically clinch the Olympic spot that he earned at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan, where he lost a contentious bronze-medal match to Zelimkhan KHADJIEV (FRA). 

A loss and he would have had to enter a playoff for the ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. Even though he recently suffered a knee injury, the incentive of sewing up the place in New Delhi led him to make the decision to participate. 

“I participated because it was part of the Kazakhstan process for qualifying for the Olympic Games,” he said. “I had to win.”

Kaisanov had faced Jitender last month at the Matteo Pellicone ranking series event in Rome, handily winning 9-2 in a repechage match before winning a bronze.

“One month ago I beat him with a big score [in Rome],” Naisanov said. “But this match was different because he was at home in front of his fans. It was mentally different, that’s why it was difficult.”

In the final, Kaisanov was on the clock when he scored with an exposure off a counter, before Jitender gained a stepout point. In the second period, Naisanov gained an insurance point with a stepout and held on for the win.

The victory came after UWW announced that Khadiev had failed a doping test, which moved Naisanov up to the world bronze. Khadiev had won their third-place match 4-3, but there was contention whether a late stepout by Naisanov should have been scored a takedown.

“I am very happy because after the World Championships I was so sad because I thought I won that match,” Naisanov said. “The referees made some mistakes. When I first heard the news of the doping by the French wrestler, I waited for the official news. I am so very happy. “

In other finals, world U-23 champion Ulubek ZHOLDOSHBEKOV (KGZ) picked up his first senior Asia gold after winning bronzes in 2016 and 2018 when he decked Muhammad IKROMOV (TJK) in 2:44.

Zholdoshbekov, who had an eye poked in his opening match by an Iranian foe that bothered him throughout the day, scored a stepout while on the activity clock, then stuffed an arm drag attempt to put Ikromov into a headlock and secure the fall.

“All of the wrestlers want to take the gold in tournaments,” Zholdoshbekov said of gaining the elusive gold. “I worked very hard and I’m very happy.”

Ikromov was denied in his bid to become just the second Tajikstan wrestler in history to win an Asian gold. The only other came in 2003.

Zholdoshbekov said he will drop down to 57kg for the Asian Olympic qualifier to be held in his home country next month.

Shutaro YAMADA (JPN) defeated Ahmad BAZRIGHALEH (IRI), 10-10 in the 86kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

The biggest surprise of the evening came in the 86kg final, in which unheralded Shutaro YAMADA (JPN) uncorked a pair of 4-point throws and held on to defeat 2019 Asian U-23 champion Ahmad BAZRIGHALEH (IRI) 10-10 on big-point criteria.

Yamada was third at the Japan Championships, but got the chance to make his international senior debut as national champ Sosuke TAKATANI (JPN) will enter the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament. 

“The chance came to me and to be honest, I thought I wouldn’t win a medal, much less the championship,” said Yamada, who knocked off world silver medalist Deepak PUNIA (IND) in the semifinals. “To get the gold, I’m extremely happy.

“After the semifinal, I went back to the hotel and looked at videos of my opponent in the final. He had high finishes in various tournaments. He’s a strong wrestler. This time, more than skills, I won with guts and patience.”

Bazrighaleh took a 3-0 lead on a takedown and stepout, before Yamada cut the lead with a nifty back trip for a takedown. But the Iranian added another stepout and a takedown to go ahead 6-2 heading into the second period.

That’s when Yamada put to good use his occasional training in Greco, as he locked up Bazrighaleh and executed a picture-perfect lateral drop, not once but twice. That put him up 10-6, and a takedown and 2-point counter were not enough to give Bazrighaleh the win.

“When I was in high school and sometimes in college, I entered Greco competitions,” said Yamada, a second-year student at powerhouse Yamanashi Gakuin University. “We often practice Greco style. Even though the styles are different, I’m glad I didn’t just limit myself to freestyle. 

“I used it in situations where I was both winning and losing. I just had to give it a shot and see what happens.”

Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) crushed Takuma OTSU (JPN),11-0, and claimed the 92kg gold medal. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Another final that featured a clash between Iran and Japan went the Middle East nation’s way, as Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) stormed to an 11-0 technical fall of Takuma OTSU (JPN) for the 92kg gold. 

That helped Iran capture the team title with 168 points, just 9 ahead of host India in second. Kazakhstan finished third with 146 points, 6 ahead of Japan.

Ironically, had Yamanashi Gakuin University entered the team competition on its own, it would have placed sixth with 100 points. The school located 120 kilometers west of Tokyo in Kofu city got gold medals from Yamada and Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) at 65kg, a silver from Otsu, and bronzes from Ryuto SAKAKI (JPN) at 61kg and alumnus Yuki TAKAHASHI (JPN) at 57kg.

“We expected at least third places from the lower weights,” Yamanashi coach Kunihiko OBATA said. “The guys in the upper weights far exceeded our expectations. It’s a good experience and gives them confidence.”

The final gold of the night went to world U-23 bronze medalist Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ), who executed three gut wreches in dominating Khuderbulga DORJKHAND (MGL) for a 10-0 technical fall in 1:32.

In the bronze-medal matches, host India’s two world medalists came away with hardware, as Rahul AWARE (IND) topped Majid DASTAN (IRI) 5-2 at 57kg and Punia rolled to a 10-0 technical fall of Issa AL OBAIDI (IRQ) at 86kg.

Japan and Iran had two bronze medalists each, while Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Korea had one each.

Daichi TAKATANI (JPN), a silver medalist at both the Asian Championships and Asian Games in 2018 at 65kg, picked up a bronze medal in his debut at the next Olympic weight of 74kg with a 15-4 technical fall of Karam MAHMOOD (IRQ).

Takatani had unsuccessfully tried to dislodge 2018 world champion Otoguro at 65kg in the battle to make Japan’s Olympic team, then made the drastic jump up two weight classes to 74kg. He came up short of grabbing the Tokyo 2020 spot, but his second place at the Japan Championships earned him a ticket to New Delhi.

While conceding little in terms of technique, Takatani still feels the gap in size, and allowed Mahmood to pull off a 4-point counter to start their bronze-medal match. But his superior skills came to the forefront and he piled up the points before finishing the match in 5:28.

Day 6 Results


61kg (13 entries)
GOLD – Ulubek ZHOLDOSHBEKOV (KGZ) df. Muhammad IKROMOV (TJK) by Fall, 2:44 (3-0)
BRONZE – Ryuto SAKAKI (JPN) df. YUN Jihoon (KOR), 4-2
BRONZE – Rahul AWARE (IND) df. Majid DASTAN (IRI), 5-2

74kg (12 entries)
GOLD – Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) df. Jitender JITENDER (IND), 3-1
BRONZE – Daichi TAKATANI (JPN) df. Karam MAHMOOD (IRQ) by TF, 15-4, 5:28
BRONZE – Mostafa HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) df. Sumiyabazar ZANDANBUD (MGL), 5-0 

86kg (9 entries)
GOLD – Shutaro YAMADA (JPN) df. Ahmad BAZRIGHALEH (IRI), 10-10 
BRONZE – Deepak PUNIA (IND) df. Issa AL OBAIDI (IRQ) by TF, 10-0, 2:43

92kg (8 entries)
GOLD – Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) df. Takuma OTSU (JPN) by TF, 11-0, 5:31 
BRONZE – Tsogtgerel MUNKHBAATAR (MGL) df. Chyngyz KERIMULOV (KGZ) by TF, 11-1, 4:30
BRONZE – Iliskhan CHILAYEV (KAZ) df. Ajiniyaz SAPARNIYAZOV (UZB), 4-4

125kg (12 entries)
GOLD – Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ) df. Khuderbulga DORJKHAND (MGL) by TF, 10-0, 1:32
BRONZE – NAM Koungjin (KOR) df. Zaman ANWAR (PAK) by TF, 10-0, 3:23
BRONZE – Parviz HADIBASMANJ (IRI) df. Farkhod ANAKULOV (TJK) by TF, 10-0, 2:04