Borrero Caps Amazing Run to Greco 67kg Title by Dethroning Surkov

By Ken Marantz

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Sept. 16) --- Ismael BORRERO (CUB) had one last world champion to vanquish, and this one happened to be the reigning one. Now it’s the Cuban who occupies the throne again going into an Olympic year. 

Borrero, the Rio 2016 Olympic champion, capped a spectacular run at the World Championships by capturing the Greco-Roman 67kg title with a 3-1 victory in the final over defending champion Artem SURKOV (RUS).

The victims that Borrero left in his wake en route to the gold reads like a Who’s Who of the weight class – three-time world champion Frank STAEBLER (GER), two-time champion and Olympic medalist RYU Hansu (KOR), and rising star Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY).

“So many champions…I wrestled with focus and tried my best to win,” said the 27-year-old Borrero, who lost in the third round at last year’s World Championships in Budapest.

The final offered little respite in the form of Surkov. But Borrero was up to the task, scoring a 2-point exposure in the par terre position in the first period, then holding off Surkov’s attempts when he was placed on bottom in the second period.  

“I’m a lot stronger this year than the last two years,” Borrero said. “I’ve worked on some techniques, but mostly on my strength. The strength is important because of the bigger weight.”

Borrero won his last world championship at 59kg in 2015, then followed that by taking home the gold the following year from the Rio Olympics. That’s a pattern he would like to repeat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

“It was very important [to win tonight],” he said. “I’ve been a champion at 59[kg] and now I’m champion at 67.”

Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) improved on his 2018 world silver medal by edging Viktor LORINCZ (HUN), 2-1, in the 87kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Like Borrero, Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) regained the world title he last won in 2015, as the 2018 silver medalist moved back to the top of the podium at 87kg by grinding out a 2-1 win over Viktor LORINCZ (HUN). 

“It was a difficult match because Viktor Lorincz is a very strong guy,” Beleniuk said. “It was a very hard match for me and I’m so happy I could win because I worked so hard to get first place.”

 All points in the final were scored for passivity, and Beleniuk received the decisive second one in the second period to defeat Lorincz, a two-time world bronze medalist in 2013-14. Earlier in the session, Lorincz saw older brother Tamas advance to Tuesday’s final at 77kg.

With the top six wrestlers in each of the Olympic weight classes earning spots for their country at Tokyo 2020, Beleniuk set a minimum goal of clinching a spot. The “maximum,” naturally, was winning the world gold. 

But that wasn’t the only reason he wanted to capture the title. Beleniuk has been serving as a deputy to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, advising him on sports matters, and there has been criticism of his splitting time between his government position and his preparation for the world championships. 

“In Ukraine, some people criticize me [about the two roles], so it was very important to win here and show the people that I can do both,” said Beleniuk, a silver medalist at both Budapest 2018 and Rio 2016.

Musa EVLOEV (RUS) won his second consecutive world title with an injury default over Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) in the 97kg finals.(Photo: Tony Rotundo)

Meanwhile, Musa EVLOEV (RUS) retained his world title at 97kg without having to break a sweat, as final opponent Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) was forced to default due a rib injury suffered during the tournament. 

Evloev’s ascendance has heralded a changing-of-the-guard in the weight class, as Aleksanyan had been the dominant force, winning world and Olympic golds from 2014 to 2017.

Evloev beat the Armenian in the semifinals last year in Budapest, avenging a loss to Aleksanyan in their first-ever meeting, in the final of the 2017 World Championships in Paris. 

The Russian said he had been looking forward to their latest clash, and was not aware that he would win by default until the two wrestlers took the mat for the official decision. 

“I didn’t know until the last seconds,” Evloev said. “Artur is a good friend, but on the mat, he is a strong opponent. I was really waiting for this.”

Frank STAEBLER (GER) rebounded to win a bronze medal after falling to eventual champion Ismael BORRERO (CUB). (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In the third-place matches, Germany and Serbia both came away with a pair of bronze medals. 

Staebler fell behind 5-0 to Elsayed at 67kg, but, helped by a 2-point fleeing penalty, came back for a 6-5 victory that he clinched with a stepout with :49 left. The other bronze went to Mate NEMES (SRB), who overwhelmed Fredrik BJERREHUUS (DEN) by 10-0 technical fall.

At 87kg, Rio 2016 bronze medalist Denis KUDLA (GER) and Asian champion Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) both added bronzes to world silvers they had previously won. Kudla edged Mikalai STADUB (BLR), while Assakalov defeated Atabek AZISBEKOV (KGZ) 6-2.

Mihail KAJAIA (SRB) and Cenk ILDEM (TUR) earned the bronzes at 97kg, with the former topping Tadeuz MICHALIK (POL) by 9-1 technical fall and the latter beating Giorgi MELIA (GEO) 4-1.

Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN).will take on returning world champion Sergey EMELIN (RUS) in the60kg finals on Tuesday night. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

Emelin, Fumita set up clash between current, former champs in 60kg final 
Earlier in the night session, the semifinals were held in the remaining three Greco weight classes, and defending champion Sergey EMELIN (RUS) set up a battle for the 60kg gold with his predecessor, Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN).

Emelin capped a near-perfect performance with his fourth straight technical fall of the day, easily beating Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ) by 8-0 in 4:30. That was only three seconds longer than the time it took for Fumita to oust Alireza NEJATI (IRI) by a 10-1 score. 

Fumita, coming off a disappointing third-place finish at the Asian Championships, scored eight points from the par terre position in the second period in his latest solid performance of the tournament. 

“I didn’t allow him to lock me up [from the standing position], and I was able to resist being rolled [from par terre], so it was a good showing,” Fumita said. 

For Fumita, by being assured of at least a silver medal, clinched a place for himself at the Olympics in his homeland. The Japan federation has decreed that any wrestler winning a medal in Nur-Sultan in an Olympic weight class automatically fills that spot at Tokyo 2020, without any further qualification process. 

“I’m really riding high right now, but I need to overcome this joy with a full effort in tomorrow’s match,” he said.

Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) will try to outperform his brother, who fell in the Greco-Roman finals on Monday night when he wrestles Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) for world gold on Tuesday night.

The 77kg final will pit Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) against Alex KESSIDIS (SWE). Lorincz broke some Kazakhstan hearts when he ousted Ashkat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ), 1-1, as his passivity point came last. Kessidis scored a 4-point throw with 1:25 left to stun Karapet CHALYAN (ARM) 5-2.

At 130kg, Riza KAYAALP (TUR) will add to his extensive world medal collection after advancing to the final with an untroubled 4-1 win over Eduard POPP (GER). He will face Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB), who defeated Amir GHASEMI (IRI), 6-2.

Dating back to 2009, Kayaalp has three world golds, two silvers and two bronzes. That’s not to mention his two Olympic medals---a silver in 2016 and bronze in 2012.

Day 3 results


60kg (39 entries)
Semifinal – Sergey EMELIN (RUS) df, Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ) by TF, 8-0, 4:30
Semifinal – Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) df. Alireza NEJATI (IRI) by TF, 10-1, 4:27

67kg (41 entries)
Gold – Ismael BORRERO (CUB) df. Artem SURKOV (RUS), 3-1 
Bronze –Mate NEMES (SRB) df. Fredrik BJERREHUUS (DEN) by TF, 10-0, 1:47
Bronze – Frank STAEBLER (GER) df. Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), 6-5

77kg (38 entries)
Semifinal – Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) df. Karapet CHALYAN (ARM), 5-2
Semifinal – Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) df. Ashkat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ), 1-1

87kg (39 entries)
Gold – Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) df. Viktor LORINCZ (HUN), 2-1  
Bronze – Denis KUDLA (GER) df. Mikalai STADUB (BLR), 2-1 
Bronze – Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) df. Atabek AZISBEKOV (KGZ), 6-2 

97kg (37 entries)
Gold – Musa EVLOEV (RUS) df, Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) by DEF.
Bronze – Mihail KAJAIA (SRB) df. Tadeuz MICHALIK (POL) by TF, 9-1, 4:40 
Bronze – Cenk ILDEM (TUR) df. Giorgi MELIA (GEO), 4-1

130kg (31 entries)
Semifinal – Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB) df. Amir GHASEMI (IRI), 6-2 
Semifinal – Riza KAYAALP (TUR) df. Eduard POPP (GER), 4-1


Sadulaev Still Reigns Supreme at 97kg with Win over Sharifov; Yazdani Regains 86kg Crown

By Ken Marantz

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Sept. 22) --- Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) wasn’t surprised that his opponent in the final wasn’t the one everyone expected. He just went out and showed again he could dominate whoever stood between him and another gold medal.

Sadulaev captured his second straight world title and fourth overall with a rock-solid 4-o victory over Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE) in the freestyle 97kg final to bring the curtain down on the Nur-Sultan World Championships.

The victory establishes Sadulaev as the one to beat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he will look to add to the 86kg gold he won at Rio 2016.

This year’s World Championships served as the first qualifier for Tokyo 2020, with the top six finishers in each of the Olympic weight classes securing berths for their country.

The pretournament hype at 97kg revolved around a potential rematch between Sadulaev and Kyle SNYDER (USA) of the 2018 final in Budapest, which the Russian won to avenge a loss to the American the previous year in Paris.

Asked if he regretted not facing Snyder this time, Sadulaev replied, “No, because the most important final is still waiting for us, the Olympic Games.”

Sharifov, a former Olympic champion in his own right, spoiled the party in Nur-Sultan by beating Snyder in the semifinals.

Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) shutout fellow Olympic champion Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 4-0, in the 97kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

“In our weight category, there are so many wrestlers with many titles,” Sadulaev said. “Even in the final, I met with an Olympic champion. His technique is very good. I wasn’t surprised that Sharifov reached the final because all wrestlers have equal chances.”

In the final---a battle between natives of the wrestling hotbed of Dagestan, a Russian republic situated on the Caspian Sea---Sadulaev gained a point with Sharifov on the activity clock, then added a single-leg takedown just before the first period ended.

In the second period, a stepout for Sadulaev was the lone point as the powerful Russian kept his Azeri opponent at bay.

Sadulaev said he never imagined himself winning the title before stepping on the mat. 

“I never think like that,” he said. “I know situations when sportsman becomes a champion in their mind, then they don’t have good result.”

Sadulaev said this gold will be special because of the warm reception he received in the former Soviet republic from the crowd at Barys Arena.

“I will keep this championship in my memory for a long time because the organization was of the highest degree and I was surprised that I have so many fans in Kazakhstan,” he said. 

“Even when I met with the Kazakh wrestler, I saw that many Kazakh people supported me.”

Sadulaev’s victory topped off a dominant tournament by Russia, which ran away with the team title with 190 points after medaling in all but one weight class  (125kg) and coming away with five of the 10 golds. 

Host Kazakhstan had no champions, but enough wrestlers in the medal matches to finish second with 103 points, while the United States edged Iran by 1 point for third place with 94 after each added a gold and a bronze on the final day. 

Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) won his second world title after Deepak PUNIA (IND) was forced to withdraw from the gold-medal match due to injury (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Iran’s title on Sunday came without a match, although Deepak PUNIA (IND) would have been hard-pressed to prevent Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) in the 86kg final from regaining the world title he won in 2017 after finishing third last year.

Yazdani was declared the winner when Punia defaulted due to a left ankle injury suffered in his opening match. While Yazdani would have preferred having to work for the victory, it capped a dominant run through the field in which he won three matches by fall or technical fall. 

“The level of this competition is high,” Yazdani said. “But I trained very hard and I was given the opportunity and the chance to win.”Yazdani, the Rio 2016 gold medalist at 74kg, minced no words in stating his determination to earn a second Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

“After a few days rest, I will start to become more prepared and get the best medal in the Olympics,” he said. “This medal was to raise the flag of my country and I want to raise the flag at the next Olympics and make the Iranian people happy.”  

Kyle DAKE (USA) defeated Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE) for the second year in a row in the 79kg finals. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

In the non-Olympic weight of 79kg, Kyle DAKE (USA) repeated his victory from the Budapest 2018 final over Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE), this time coming away with a 4-1 victory for his second world title.

“I did a lot better job this time,” said Dake, who won 2-0 a year ago. “I moved my feet, which has been a really big focus of mine this past eight months. I’m glad to see it’s coming together.”

Dake went on the offensive from the outset and picked up a pair of stepout points in the first period. He padded the lead in the second period with a single-leg takedown before Hasanov, with his back to wall, finally began launching attacks.

“There were some positions where he got in on my leg at the end, and he would never shoot if it was 0-0,” Dake said. 

“I knew I could not leave it in the hands of the refs. I couldn’t leave it up to cautions, I needed to go out and execute. I got the first pushout, second pushout, takedown and that was the difference.”

In the final minute, Hasanov’s efforts only resulted in a pair of stepouts as Dake forced stalemates from the Azeri’s takedown attempts to come up golden. 

“I was hoping they would have let those scrambles go a little bit longer,” Dake said. “I feel I was ready to score a couple of times, but it is what it is.” 

It was the latest major accomplishment for the 28-year-old father of two, who became the first wrestler in U.S. collegiate history to win four titles in four different weight classes, when he did it while at the Ivy League’s Cornell University.

“It’s a testament to the way I live, the way my wife and family support me, my friends, coaches, teammates, sponsors---I couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “It’s been a crazy road this past year to say the least, and I’m just really excited I was able to get it done again.

Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) scored a trio of takedowns and defeated Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS), 6-1, in the 61kg finals. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

In the final at 61kg, also a non-Olympic weight, European silver medalist Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) relegated 2018 world U23 champion Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS) to second place by scoring three takedowns in the second period for a 6-1 win.

In the bronze-medal matches, Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) became the first-ever world freestyle medalist from Switzerland when he chalked up three stepouts to defeat Carlos IZQUIERDO (COL) 3-1 at 86kg. 

History was going to be made regardless of the outcome as Colombia also has never had a freestyle medalist. Switzerland had previously won one world bronze each in the other styles---Kurt RUSTERHOLZ (SUI) in Greco-Roman 87kg in 1953, and Inge KRASSER (SUI) at women’s 57kg in 1989. 

Artur NAIFANOV (RUS) won the other bronze at 86kg with a 6-0 victory over Myles AMINE (SMR), the U.S.-born wrestler who clinched the first-ever Olympic berth for tiny San Marino, the birthplace of his grandfather.

At 97kg, Snyder gained some consolation from his semifinal loss to Sharifov when he grinded out a 5-0 win over Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) at 97kg to add a world bronze to his collection of two golds and a silver. 

Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) captured a bronze medal with an 8-5 win over Alisher YERGALI (KAZ). (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) became the first wrestler to win a world medal while competing for the newly named nation of North Macedonia when he rallied to defeat Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) 8-5.

Host Kazakhstan came up short in its other shot for a medal before the home crowd when Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) edged Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ) 3-2 at 79kg.

Gadzhi NABIEV (RUS) built up an 8-point lead against Rashid KURBANOV (UZB) and held on for a 8-3 victory for the other 79kg bronze.

Asian bronze medalist Rahul AWARE (IND) became the 10th wrestler in Indian history to win a world freestyle medal when he defeated Tyler GRAFF (USA) 11-4 at 61kg.

Aware, nursing a 4-2 lead, scored a takedown with a slick duck under, then padded his lead with a pair of 2-point exposures. 

Two days earlier, Kumar RAVI (IND) became the eighth Indian medalist when he won a bronze at 57kg, and Punia become No. 9 when he was assured of at least a silver by making the 86kg final.

The other 61kg bronze went to Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI), an 8-0 winner over Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB).

Day 9 Results


61kg (25 entries)
Gold – Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) df. Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS), 6-1
Bronze – Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI) df. Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB), 8-0 
Bronze – Rahul AWARE (IND) df. Tyler GRAFF (USA), 11-4

79kg (23 entries)
Gold – Kyle DAKE (USA) df. Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE), 4-1
Bronze – Gadzhi NABIEV (RUS) df. Rashid KURBANOV (UZB), 8-3
Bronze – Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) df. Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ), 3-2

86kg (43 entries)
Gold – Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) df. Deepak PUNIA (IND) by Inj. Def. 
Bronze – Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) df. Carlos IZQUIERDO (COL), 3-0 
Bronze – Artur NAIFANOV (RUS) df. Myles AMINE (SMR), 6-0

97kg (26 entries)
Gold – Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) df. Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 4-0 
Bronze – Kyle SNYDER (USA) df. Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), 5-0 
Bronze – Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) df. Alisher YERGALI (KAZ), 8-5