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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Tokyo Watch - 50 Profiles in 50 Days: Kenchiro Fumita (Japan)

    Kenchiro Fumita at the 2019 World Championships (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    As of today, we under 50 days from the start of wrestling at the Olympic Games. Over the next 50 days, we'll bring you one profile per day of a decorated international contender. Make sure you get to know the wrestlers that Team USA will compete against in Tokyo.

    6/23/21 - Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (Belarus)

    6/22/21 - Erica Wiebe (Canada)

    6/21/21 - Myles Amine (San Marino)

    6/20/21 - Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)

    6/19/21 - Hassan Yazdani Charati (Iran)

    6/18/21 - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)

    6/17/21 - Takuro Otoguro (Japan)

    6/16/21 - Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia)

    6/15/21 - Koumba Larroque (France)

    6/14/21 - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

    6/13/21 - Ningning Rong (China)

    6/12/21 - Bajrang Punia (India)

    6/11/21 - Frank Staebler (Germany)

    6/10/21 - Geno Petriashvili (Georgia)

    When it was announced that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympics, most fans focused on the Japanese women's team and how they could dominate in front of a home crowd. What some may not have considered were the contenders on the Greco-Roman front. Japan has the top-seed at 60 kg Kenchiro Fumita, one of the young stars of this discipline. At 25 years old, Fumita already has a pair of world titles at the Senior level under his belt, along with a U23 Championship and a couple of Asian gold medals. In each of Fumita's world championship runs, he is emerged from stacked weight classes and has been given no gifts. With a more condensed field in Tokyo, expect for Fumita to have another tall task ahead of him. Even so, don't be surprised to see him celebrating on his home soil in August.

    Key Wins: Zholaman Sharshenbekov (2020 Asian Championships; Finals), Islomjon Bakhramov (2020 Asian Championships; Semifinals), Sergey Emelin (2019 World Championships; Finals), Alireza Nejati (2019 World Championships; Semifinals), Victor Ciobanu (2019 World Championships; Quarterfinals), Elmurat Tasmuradov (2019 World Championships; Round of 16), Sailike Walihan (2019 Asian Championships; Bronze), Stepan Maryanyan (2017 World Championships; Quarterfinals), Shinobu Ota (2018 Japanese Championships; Finals, 2017 Grand Prix of Spain; Semifinals), Mirambek Ainagulov (2017 World Championships; Finals, 2017 Asian Championship; Finals),

    Key Losses: Se-Ung Ri (2019 Asian Championships; Quarterfinals), Shinobu Ota (2017 Poland Open; Quarterfinals, 2017 Cerro Pelado; Finals)

    The Age-Group Years (2010-2014)

    The early years for Fumita were not unlike most wrestlers that compete on an international stage. Some flashes of greatness, but at the same time, nothing that would indicate he was a lock to become a multiple-time world champion and top-seed at the Olympic Games. Fumita first hit the international scene as a 14-year-old in 2010, taking a silver medal at the Asian Championships. Since Cadet World's wasn't reinstated until the following year, that was the limit for his competition.

    In 2011, Fumita did just that and competed at the Cadet World Championships. Fumita advanced to the semifinals, where he was defeated by Murad Bazarov (Azerbaijan) and the weight was won by Mirambek Ainagulov (Kazakhstan), who will be an important player in Fumita's story later. After the loss in the semis, Fumita prevailed over Kemal Muelayim (Turkey) to come away with the bronze medal.

    Fumita returned to the Cadet World Championships in 2012, but was unable to bring home any hardware, as he finished tenth.

    He did not compete again internationally for the remainder of 2012 or at all in 2013. Fumita returned to the world scene in 2014, as a Junior, but bowed out of the World Championships early, settling for 16th place.

    Finding His Way (2015-16)

    Although only 19-years-old for most of 2015, Fumita hopped into Senior-level competition and never looked back. He was also growing into his body. As a Cadet and Fumita started at 46 kg and moved up to 54 kg. In 2014, Fumita began to settle in at 60 kg and he would compete at that weight or 59 kg to this day.

    During Fumita's initial year on the Senior level, he entered three Grand Prix's. The FILA, the Spanish Grand Prix, and the Golden Grand Prix. In Spain, Fumita earned his first tournament title at this age group, by downing 2013 Junior World Champion Serif Kilic (Turkey) in the finals.

    Fumita continued to progress in 2016, but he had a significant hurdle in front of him to make the Olympic team. Two-time Asian medalist Shinobu Ota was the frontrunner for the Olympic spot and ended up getting the nod in Rio. Ota would prove to be the stiffest challenge for Fumita for the rest of the next quad. With Fumita on the sideline, Ota went to Rio and came away with the silver medal at 59 kg. Fumita continued to compete in 2016 and captured wins at the Poland Open and the Golden Grand Prix. In Poland, Fumita captured his biggest win, to date, by downing Soslan Daurov (Belarus), a returning fifth-place finisher at the World Championships.

    The Best in the World (2017-Present)

    While Fumita won his only two events of 2016, he went to another level in 2017. His only two losses came to his countryman Ota at the Cerro Pelado and the Poland Open. In May, Fumita captured his first Asian Championship by defeating Ainagulov in the finals. 2017 also marked Fumita's first crack at the Senior World Championships. Even though he was amid an absolutely loaded 60 kg weight class, Fumita avoided landmine after landmine, just to make the finals. Along the way, he took out Stephen Maryanyan (Russia), who would move up the next year and won a world title at 63 kg. Fumita then gutted out 2-1 wins in both the semifinals and the gold medal match. For the top spot, it was Ainagulov on the opposite end of the mat. Just three years after a 16th place finish at Junior World's, Fumita ascended to the top of the heap and was a world champion.

    Despite a title early in 2018 at the Dan Kolov, and Fumita's success in 2017, it was Ota who won the spot on the 2018 world team. Ota fell in the second round to the eventual bronze medalist Aidos Sultangali (Kazakhstan). Since Fumita wouldn't turn 23 until December of 2018, he was eligible to compete at the 2018 U23 World Championships. For the most part, Fumita cruised to a U23 gold medal. He won by fall in the world finals and shut out two of his three other opponents.

    Late in 2018, Fumita competed in the national championships and grabbed an all-important win over Ota. After this point, Ota would move up to 63 kg for the 2019 season.

    With Ota out of the picture in 2019, there would be no bumps in the road for Fumita, right? In his first tournament of the year, the Asian Championships, Fumita was knocked off by North Korean Se-Ung Ri.

    That loss proved to be an aberration as Fumita once again battled through a meatgrinder at the 2019 World Championships. In the Round of 16, Fumita teched the returning world silver medalist (at 63 kg), Elmurat Tasmuradov (Uzbekistan). A match later, it was another returning world runner-up Victor Ciobanu (Moldova), that went down at the hands of Fumita. While it wasn't a tech, Fumita was able to put 12 points on the board. The semis had another meeting with Ainagulov and, once again, Fumita came out on top, 8-0. For the world championship, Fumita put together a 10-5 win over returning champion, Sergey Emelin (Russia). Fumita was now two-for-two in his shots at winning Senior world titles.

    Fumita started the 2020 campaign with his second gold medal at the Asian Championships. After the continental championships, the world was shut down due to the Covid pandemic. He returned to action in December, though, and won another national title. Since Fumita has not competed internationally in 2021, it's difficult to gauge where he's at heading into the Olympics. If anywhere near top-form, Fumita will be the man to beat at 60 kg, which reflects his top-seed.

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