Team New Japan aims for Olympic gold

Bushiroad Club rebrands as Team New Japan; Yuji Nagata continues to coach Japan’s most promising amateur wrestlers

Formed in 2012 by Bushiroad owner Takaaki Kidani and Yuji Nagata, Bushiroad Club has seen impressive amateur athletes compete on the world stage for eight years. Now Bushiroad Club is proudly rebranding as Team New Japan, with Olympic gold in its sights. 

The team roster retains Yuji Nagata as its head coach, along with members Takeshi Yamaguchi (31 years old, Freestyle at 97kg), Oleg Boltin (27, Kazakhstan, Freestyle at 120kg) and Takashi Ishiguro (23, Freestyle at 97kg). Strengthening Team New Japan’s ranks are 32 year old Nobuyoshi Arakida, who wrestles Freestyle at 120kg, and Takahiro Inoue, who joins the coaching staff.

Commenting on the rebranding, Yuji Nagata stated ‘When we started Bushiroad Club, NJPW was still in a difficult position, and didn’t have the cache that we had back in the day when Tokon Club was our dedicated amateur team. The original plan was for us to change names to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics this year, but we decided that this was the best time for it to happen.’

Both Tokon and Bushiroad Club were established to develop Olympic prospects and facilitate a transition into the pro ranks should wrestlers make that decision. But as COVID-19 resulted in the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 games, amateur competition is currently in an uncertain state, and makes professional transition a difficult decision for uncertain athletes. 

Nonetheless, Nagata remains optimistic. ‘I’ll support these boys in any way I can. These might be uncertain times, but we’re getting stronger and stronger, and with a small team size, we’re able to train quite effectively under strict guidelines to make sure everyone stays healthy,’ Nagata remarked, saying that he will do all he can to support the team members and help them develop physically and mentally.

This new Team New Japan now sets their sights on the potsponed Tokyo 2021 games. We’ll keep you updated on their progress!

Comments from Team New Japan

Takeshi Yamaguchi (31 years old, Freestyle at 97kg)

We’re now all official NJPW employees, and it feels like a wall’s been broken down between us and the pro guys. the chance to learn from them and develop in this environment is really exciting, and it’s strengthened my dedication. For now it’s all aboyut training and getting ready to perform in competition.

Oleg Boltin (27, Kazakhstan, Freestyle at 120kg)

COVID-19 has affected us in Kazakhstan as well, and it’s been a real challenge to be able to keep in top shape during lockdown. It’s been especially tough not being able to spar or work on the mats, but I’ve been working hard to develop my strength, and I’m more muscular than I’ve ever been. My injuries have healed as well, and I’m in good shape. I still have some chance of being in the Olympics, and I plan on continuing to chase my dreams.

Takashi Ishiguro (23, Freestyle at 97kg)

I joined Bushiroad in April this year, and then transitioned to NJPW in June. Things are still difficult when it comes to the Coronavirus, but I know I’m in good hands with Yamaguchi as my senpai and Nagata as my coach watching over me. I want to make my mark on the world stage, so obviously I have high hopes for Tokyo 2021, and Paris 2024 after that.