Former Weekly Gong Editor-in-Chief follows in the footsteps of the strongest champion
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Jumbo Tsuruta, the mysterious man who was the strongest but couldn’t get No. 1.
Kagehiro Osano, former editor-in-chief of Weekly Gong, continues to conduct interviews in order to unravel this “mystery” that no one has ever delved into.
“What was so amazing about Tsuruta? What was his strength? Why was he unable to become a true ace despite being said to be the strongest? Overall, how should he be evaluated as a professional wrestler? ――.Although it is no longer possible to talk to Tsuruta himself, we have accumulated past interviews, various materials, interviews with people involved, and re-examined the matches, and now is the time to ask, “Who was Jumbo Tsuruta?” ” (Mr. Osano)
In May 2020, he published a 588-page masterpiece, “Eternal Strongest Champion Jumbo Tsuruta”. It caused a huge response.
Even so, Mr. Osano’s interview does not end. Since July 2023, the statue of “Jumbo Tsuruta,” which includes new testimonies, has been distributed on the online media “Synchronus” with significant additions to this “Eternal Strongest Champion Jumbo Tsuruta.”
In this fifth installment, we will be bringing you the true reason why Jumbo Tsuruta was rejected from joining the wrestling club, as told by Makoto Kamata, a former captain of Chuo University’s wrestling club and a classmate of his.
[Click here for the fully-edited version of “Eternal Strongest Champion Jumbo Tsuruta”]
Individual competition to participate in the Olympics
In April 1969, Tomomi Tsuruta enrolled in the Political Science Department of the Faculty of Law at Chuo University, a prestigious basketball school, with the aim of competing in the Munich Olympics four years later. She considered going to a physical education university, but she made that decision after thinking about her career path after the Olympics.
Normally, graduates from physical education universities become physical education teachers, but I thought that my career options would be wider, so I chose the Faculty of Law at a comprehensive university.
Tsuruta, whose family cannot be called wealthy, decides to live with a relative who runs a building materials business. She doesn’t have to pay for room and board, but in exchange she has to help out with classes and work when she doesn’t have basketball practice.
The Chuo University Basketball Club, founded in 1924, won the All-Japan University Basketball Championship in 1967. They are a strong team, having won second place in 1968, the year before Tsuruta enrolled. Despite this, Tsuruta was selected as an All-Japan candidate and was able to participate in the training camp despite being a first-year student. However, when she plays against a foreign team, she realizes that the world’s walls are thicker than she imagined.
“Maybe Japan won’t be able to make it through the Asian regional qualifiers?”
With these doubts rearing its head, he changes direction in order to attend his goal of competing in the Munich Olympics. That meant quitting basketball and switching to individual sports.
Team sports depend on team play. The results are more satisfying in individual sports, where the winner is determined by the strength of the individual, and in individual sports, there are no Asian regional qualifiers, and if you perform well domestically, you can qualify for the Olympics.
The first thing I thought of was judo. At that time, the judo club had Tetsuo Sekikawa, a first-year student like Tsuruta. Mr. Pogo later gained notoriety as Atsushi Onita’s rival. According to Pogo, Tsuruta asked him to join the judo club almost every day, but he was not allowed to join.
However, Tsuruta himself said in later years that he had decided against judo as an option, saying, “Judo, which has a large pool of athletes, is probably not something you can start in your first year of college.”
The next thing I thought about was boxing, but since the Munich Olympics doesn’t have heavyweight entries, with only a limited number of athletes up to middleweight, this was also not an option.
And the last thing left was wrestling. Chuo University’s wrestling club, founded in 1946, is just as prestigious as its basketball club.
The Chuo University wrestling club includes Shohachi Ishii, who became the first postwar Japanese gold medalist in the 57kg free program at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Shozo Sasahara, who competed in the 62kg free program at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and Mitsuo Ikeda, who competed in the 73kg free program at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. It has produced five gold medalists, including Nagatake Watanabe, who competed in the 63kg free program at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and Shigeo Nakata, who competed in the 52kg free program at the 1968 Mexico Olympics (he had graduated and was in the Self-Defense Forces at the time of his participation).
Kazushi Sakuraba, who won against the Gracie family of Jiu-Jitsu four times and stood at the peak of the mixed martial arts boom as the Gracie Hunter, served as the captain of the same division in 1991, and is also known as Suwama (Kohei Suwama) of All Japan Pro Wrestling. ) is also from the same department.
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