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Relive the epic All Japan final Kosei Inoue and Keiji Suzuki with their commentary

7 Aug 2020 09:55

   All Japan Judo Federation / AJJF
inoue_suzuki_2003

One of the most heroic finals in Japan was the 2003 edition of the All Japan Championships between Kosei Inoue and Keiji Suzuki. Both legends, both are involved in the men’s All Japan mens team leading up to the Tokyo Olympic Games. This competition is held in open weight and turned out to be a legendary tournament and also marked the last match of another legendary fighter Shinichi Shinohara.

The open Weight class is known as the most prestigious judo event in Japan. Yasuhiro Yamashita, the current AJJF President and JOC President captured most All Japan titles with nine consecutive titles from 1977-1985, what an icon he is.

In 2003 the Japanese heavyweights excelled with names of Kosei Inoue, Keiji Suzuki, Shinichi Shinohara and Yasuyuki Muneta.

Inoue took the All japan title from Shinohara who dominated the event from 1998-2000 in the year where he took the Olympic silver medal against David Douillet in an epic Olympic final. From 2001 it was the 2000 Olympic Champion U100kg Kosei Inoue who competed successfully among the heavyweights and won the tournament in 2001 and 2002. Shinohara was eager to beat new king Inoue but lost to Suzuki and announced his retirement.

The Nippon Budokan, the original Venue of the 1964 Olympic Games and 2019 World Championships always delivers a special atmosphere. The competition is held in one mat only and the crowd was delivered a spectacular field with athlete who knew each-other from their childhood.

This competition was decisive for the Japanese selection event for the 2003 World Championships which were held in Osaka later that year.

Favourite for the title was Kosei Inoue who wanted to compete in Athens and being selected for the 2003 World Championships would give him a leap on competitors. Inoue was the champion of the last two years in Japan and going for his 3rd consecutive All Japan title. He was the reigning Olympic Champion U100kg.

The coming man was Keiji Suzuki who wanted to claim his first al Japan title and he wanted to qualify for the Athens Olympic Games +100kg. 2003 should be HIS year as he won the Kano Cup in January and the Tournoi de Paris in February. In the beginning of April he won All Japan Championships in the category U100kg, but this was the open weight tournament.

Yasuyuki Muneta was in shape as well. Same like Suzuki he won the Kano Cup and Tournoi de Paris in the beginning of the year but took a silver medal at 2002 All Japan Championship. He had never won this open weight Al japan title.

Shinichi Shinohara was the three time All Japan Champion 1998-2000 and World Champion in 1999 of both +100kg division and open weight. He felt bestolen in Sydney when he doubtfully lost to Douillet.

The All Japan championship was held three weeks after the National championships by weight categories and Suzuki defeated Inoue in Fukuoka by koka and was at form.

Watch the video with great commentary of the finallists Inoue and Suzuki. A great review by the All Japan Judo federation introduced by Hideki Furuta, one of the JudoInside partners with his well-informed website eJudo. It turned out to be one of the best finals spoiling the crowd with great ashi-waza and battles.

The result of the event: both finallists were selected for the 2003 Worlds in Osaka, Inoue U100kg and didn’t disappoint, he won his third World title. Suzuki won in the open weight world title and the next year he was crowned Olympic Champion U100kg in Athens. Despite his height Yasuyuki Muneta dominated the heavyweights +100kg in Osaka and took the third male world title for Japan. All three men stood on the podium at the All Japan Championships.

Review the All Japan Championships with unique commentary of the finallists.

Watch the video below or click here

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Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Kosei Inoue (JPN) - World Championships Birmingham (1999, GBR) - © David Finch, Judophotos.com
  • Keiji Suzuki (JPN) - Olympic Games Beijing (2008, CHN) - © David Finch, Judophotos.com
  • Kosei Inoue (JPN),  HONOUR (IJF) - World Championships Birmingham (1999, GBR) - © David Finch, Judophotos.com

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