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Monday Roundup: Fumita Back for JPN; U20 Pan-Ams

Kenichiro Fumita -- Photo: Japan Wrestling Federation

Two-time World Champion/’20 Olympic silver Kenichiro Fumita defeated Maito Kawana over the weekend in Tachikawa, thus earning the right to represent Japan at 60 kilograms once the World Championships arrives on the calendar this coming September.

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Fumita, 27, originally downed Kawana this past December at Japan’s Emperor’s Cup, which was the first step in that nation’s World Team selection process. But a hamstring injury suffered by Fumita earlier this year resulted in his missing the Meji Cup — which was won by Kawana. That set the stage for their wrestle-off on Saturday, a bout in which Fumita capitalized on the first-period passivity to turn Kawana via gutwrench en-route to an eventual 3-1 decision victory.

It was a significant triumph in more ways than one for Fumita. Not only did he secure his chance for a fourth Senior World-level medal (he earned bronze last year, as well), a piece of hardware, in any color, at Belgrade ’23 guarantees him Japan’s 60 kg Olympic spot for Paris ’24.  “The reason for my win is that I want to get back to the Olympics and earn a gold medal,” Fumita told United World Wrestling.

After starting his career by challenging ”16 Olympic silver Shinobu Ota, Fumita stormed onto the scene the very next season by coming away with gold at the ’17 Worlds. He followed in ’18 with a win on the U23 level before once again rising to the top at the ’19 Senior World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. A loss at home in the Tokyo Olympic final to Luis Orta Sanchez (67 kg, CUB) saw Fumita rest and reassess; but he was back for Belgrade ’22, where he fell via criteria to silver Edmond Nazaryan (BUL) in the semifinal ahead of turning back Murad Mammadov (AZE) for bronze.

U20 Pan-Ams

The American Juniors will get a crack at continental opposition on Thursday at the U20 Pan-American Championships in Santiago, Chile. An additional component attached to the event for the US roster is that six of the athletes were victorious last month at the World Team Trials.

There are only two holdovers from last year’s USA U20 Pan-Am Team, and both were champions: “Muscle” Mike Altomer (82 kg, Curby 3-Style) and ’22 U20 World bronze Aden Attao (130 kg, Suples). Included in the mix, as well, is ’21 Cadet World Team member Jadon Skellenger (ID), who himself earned a Pan-Am silver back in ’18 on the U15 level.

Another entrant about whom many stateside are excited is Landon Drury, who trains full-time at Betterman Elite in Colorado. Drury, whose bloodline in this sport runs thick, has become one of the more high-profile prospects for the US program recently.

2023 U20 Pan-American Championships

July 6 — Santiago, CHI

Full Schedule

*All times ET; action can be viewed live in the US on FLOWrestling. 

Thursday, July 6
10:00am-1:00pm — Qualification rounds through repechage
5:00pm — Finals/bronze -medal matches

2023 USA U20 Pan-American Championships Roster

*’23 U20 World Team member

55 kg: Roberto Estrada (Western Colorado WC)
60 kg: Zan Fugitt (Nixa HS)
*63 kg: Landon Drury (Betterman Elite)
67 kg: Jadon Skellenger (ID)
72 kg: Arvin Khosravy (CA)
*77 kg: Derek Matthews (Northern Colorado WC)
*82 kg: Mike Altomer (Curby 3-Style)
*87 kg: Wyatt Voelker (Big Game WC)
*97 kg: Sawyer Bartelt (Gladiator WC)
*130 kg: Aden Attao (Suples)

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