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World title a boost for wrestler Fumita's gold medal goal at Tokyo Games

PARIS -- Kenichiro Fumita, who won the men's Greco-Roman 59-kilogram division in the world wrestling championships here on Aug. 22 to become Japan's first male world champion wrestler in 34 years, is now aiming even higher -- for the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"My goal is to win the gold in the (Tokyo) Games," said 21-year-old Fumita as he celebrated his world championship victory with a Japanese "Hinomaru" flag signed by his fellow Nippon Sport Science University wrestlers on his back. "I couldn't be happier."

Fumita has been trained from his childhood by his father Toshiro, 56, who once placed second in the national wrestling championships. Toshiro also coached him when he was a member of the wrestling club at Nirasaki Technical High School in Yamanashi Prefecture. After watching his son's winning bout on Aug. 22 at the venue in Paris, Toshiro commented, "I'm happy. It feels so good."

One of the major skills Fumita learned from his father in Greco-Roman wrestling -- which prohibits attacks on the lower body -- is the "suplex throw," wherein a wrestler puts his arms under the opponent's armpits to lift him up before leaning back to throw him backward.

In his second round match at the Paris championships, Fumita overpowered his opponent by twice unleashing his signature suplex throws, and even when the opponent backed away to avoid any further such throws, Fumita pressed the opponent persistently to win the bout.

Fumita acquired the basics for the killer technique naturally while he was playing at the wrestling gym at Nirasaki Technical High School from age 2, where his father used to have him perform bridge poses to improve his physical strength.

For many years, Toshiro has prioritized suplex throws, believing that the charm of wrestling lies in throwing an opponent wildly, not in mere pushes and shoves between two muscled men. In his high school days, Toshiro used to practice the art of throwing for up to three hours a day. Following in his father's footsteps, Fumita also practiced throwing tirelessly.

Toshiro is also known for having coached Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, the gold medalist in the men's freestyle 66-kilogram division in the 2012 London Olympics. Since then, Toshiro has passed down Yonemitsu's fortitude to his son. When Fumita persevered even when his opponent didn't allow him to perform suplex throws in the latest championships, Toshiro was amazed at how far his son has come. "He endured so well, without resorting to a bold move," Toshiro said.

"I owe what I am today to the art of throwing. I will keep following my father's teachings," Fumita commented after the victory.

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