NEW YORK Team USA got the better of Team Japan under the neon lights of Manhattan’s Times Square on Wednesday in an annual charity event to benefit youth wrestlers in the New York area.
A block away from where costumed ‘super heroes’ were nagging tourists to pay for photographs, the Americans won nine out of 10 freestyle matches in the ‘Beat the Streets’ event, which in the past has brought rival wrestlers from Russia, Iran and Cuba.
While the U.S. squad featured Olympic and world champions on Wednesday, many of Japan’s top wrestlers were absent due to the Asian Championships.
“The competition was strong and the American team,, especially the men, were very, very strong. Probably number one in the world,” Japan’s team leader Kosei Akaishi told Reuters.
“Our team was a little behind it seems to me today. But this was a good match.”
Japan’s Yuki Irie, the 2012 world junior champion and a Senior Asian champion, won the first East meets West match 10-6 over Victoria Anthony, a twice junior world champion, in the 48 kg class, but that was as good as it got for the visitors.
Helen Maroulis, who became the first U.S. woman to win Olympic gold at last summer’s Rio Games, was tested by world junior champion Yuzuru Kumano before prevailing 7-4 in the 58 kg match.
“I was really excited to wrestle this Japanese girl,” Maroulis said afterwards. “Anytime you get to wrestle one of them it’s just a really great experience.
“They always bring a fire, they always bring a discipline and a respect and push, so you know it’s going to be a good battle.”
Later, the U.S. men got rolling.
Tony Ramos won his 57 kg match 10-0, world champion Logan Stieber was an 11-0 winner at 61 kg, James Green won at 70 kg by 10-0, World and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder posted a 10-0 win at 97 kg and Nick Gwiazdowski won the 125 kg match by 11-0.
Three-times world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs closed the program with a 9-2 victory over 2014 world silver medalist Sohsuke Takatani.
“He’s a tough guy. I know he’s one of the potential opponents for the world championships in Paris,” Burroughs said.
“Every match is preparation. I wanted to win, score often and defend well, and he did a great job. Good match for both of us.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)