Matteo Pellicone Preview

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (January 10) --- The first stop on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games travels through Rome, Italy, for the first of two Ranking Series events, the Matteo Pellicone. The four-day tournament kicks off January 15-18 in Ostia, a port city of ancient Rome, located 30km away from the city center.

The stacked entry list includes seven reigning world champions, all three 2019 Wrestlers of the Year and over 30 world medal holders from the 2019 World Championships.

Freestyle boasts nine world medalists, one of which is a two-time world champion. Greco-Roman features four podium finishers from Nur-Sultan, and women's wrestling rounds out the tournament with an astonishing six reigning world champs and 18 medalists from Kazakhstan.

World Champions That Are Registered:
FS 74kg - Kyle Douglas DAKE (USA) – two-time world champion at 79kg
WW 57kg - Linda MORAIS (CAN) – world champion at 59kg
WW 62kg - Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) – world champion at 65kg 
WW 62kg - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ)
WW 69kg - Tamyra Mariama MENSAH (USA)
WW 76kg - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) – world champion at 72kg 
WW 76kg - Adeline Maria GRAY (USA)

Trio of Wrestlers of the Year Entered
The trio of United World Wrestling's 2019 Wrestlers of the Year Frank CHAMIZO (ITA), Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) and Tamyra MENSAH-STOCK (USA) will all be in action at the Matteo Pellicone. 

 Frank Chamizo, the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year and two-time world champion, is searching for his third Ranking Series title since 2018. He competed in three Ranking Series events last season and captured gold at the City of Sassari Tournament in front of a friendly Italian crowd. He also finished with a silver medal at the Yasar Dogu and a bronze at the Dan Kolov before dropping his world finals match to Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS).

Viktor Lorincz, Greco-Roman's Wrestler of the Year, is making his sixth Ranking Series appearance of his storied career. Through his five previous showings, the 2019 world runner-up has tallied a perfect 19-0 record while reaching the top of the podium in each outing.

Tamyra Mensah-Stock, the 2019 Women's Wrestler of the Year and reigning 68kg world champion, will scrap in her seventh career Ranking Series event. Last year, she wrestled at three of the four Ranking Series events and claimed gold medals at the City of Sassari Tournament, Dan Kolov and Ivan Yariguin.

Potential Dake and Chamizo Matchup 
Some of the biggest personalities in the sport already reside at 74kg. Well, Kyle DAKE (USA) just added his name to the likes of Jordan BURROUGHS (USA), Frank Chamizo and Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS), among many others.

The weight gained massive depth after Dake announced he's moving down from 79kg, a weight where he's the reigning two-time world champion.

The timing of Dake's move couldn’t have come at a better time for wrestling fans, especially heading into the Matteo Pellicone where there’s a long list of renowned wrestlers entered, including Italy's own Frank Chamizo.

Dake and Chamizo is a must-see potential matchup that wrestling fans can't miss. Although Dake is fairly defensive at times, he is one of the best offensive wrestlers on earth when it comes to unconventional positions. Coupling that with Chamizo being one of the toughest wrestlers to score on because of his unorthodox defensive style of wrestling; it’s a match that could light up the scoreboard.

In addition to the above-mentioned pair of two-time world champions, 74kg will also feature Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR), James GREEN (USA) and Yones EMAMICHOGHAEI (IRI). Demirtas is a Rio bronze medalist, Green is a two-time world medalist, and Emamichoghaei is a reigning world bronze medalist, though that was down at 70kg.

Bajrang BAJRANG (IND) begins his quest to the Tokyo Olympic Games at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone where he's entered at 65kg. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Indian Stars Making the Trip to Rome 
Reigning world medalists Kumar RAVI, Bajrang BAJRANG, and Deepak PUNIA will lead a loaded freestyle squad into the Matteo Pellicone.

Ravi qualified India for the 2020 Olympic Games at 57kg with a bronze-medal finish in Nur-Sultan and quite possibly has the toughest road to gold in Rome. Ravi's road could weave through a trio of seasoned American wrestlers with past senior or age-group world medals and a 2020 Olympian.

The United States is sending Joseph COLON (USA), Daton FIX (USA) and Thomas GILMAN (USA). 

Colon medaled (bronze) at 61kg in 2018, while Gilman was a 2017 world runner-up in Paris and finished in fifth place in 2018. But it's the youngster Fix who is the leading man at the weight for the Stars and Stripes after downing Gilman for the world championship starting sport. Fix was a junior world champion back in 2017

Serbia's Stevan MICIC will also be competing at 57kg. Micic became his nation's first freestyle Olympian after finishing in fifth place at the 2019 World Championships. 

Bajrang, a 2018 word silver medalist and 2019 world bronze-medal finisher, could see Iran's reigning world bronze medalist Behnam EHSANPOOR on his road to a potential fourth career Ranking Series gold. 

India’s inserted junior world champion Deepak Punia at 86kg. The 2019 Junior Wrestler of the Year qualified India for the Olympic Games after finishing the 2019 World Championships with a silver medal.

Punia's toughest competition at the weight will be 2018 world silver medalist Fatih ERDIN (TUR) and 2020 Olympian Myles AMINE (SMR).

U23 world champion Bo NICKAL (USA) will be bumping up from 92kg to 97kg with hopes of making USA's Olympic team. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

U23 World Champion Nickal Moving up to Challenge Snyder at 97kg 
Three months after bulldozing his way to a U23 world title at 92kg, Bo NICKAL (USA) is bumping up to the Olympic weight of 97kg with hopes of dethroning two-time world and Rio Olympic champion Kyle SNYDER (USA) for the starting spot. Snyder, known by American fans as "Captain America," qualified the weight for the 2020 Olympic Games with a bronze-medal finish in Nur-Sultan. He's been America's starter since 2015 when he became the youngest American to win a world title.

Six of Ten Women's Wrestling World Champs Set to Scrap in Rome
Over a handful of women's world champions from Nur-Sultan will be in action in Rome – six to be exact – but of those six reigning champs, there's a trio of women moving from non-Olympic weights to Olympic weight in preparation for a run at Olympic gold. 

The six Nur-Sultan winners are: Linda MORAIS (CAN), Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS), Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ), Tamyra Mariama MENSAH (USA), Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) and Adeline Maria GRAY (USA). But Morais, Trazhukova and Vorobeva will all be moving from their non-Olympic winning weights to Olympic weight classes. 

Morais, who won world gold in 2019 at 59kg, is on her way down to already stacked 57kg. In early December, Morais defeated Hannah TAYLOR (CAN) in two straight matches at the Canada Wrestling Trials and will be Canada’s starter for the 2020 season.

The addition of Morais bolsters a weight class that now features three-time world and Olympic champion Risako KAWAI (JPN) and RONG Ningning (CHN), who fell short of defending her 2018 world title in this year's gold-medal bout. Although Kawai won't be in action in Rome, Rong will be.

Another star who competed at 59kg in Kazakhstan, Pooja DHANDA (IND), will also be making her descent down to 57kg. Dhanda was a bronze medalist at 57kg back in 2018 but moved up to 59kg in 2019, where she finished in fifth place at the World Championships. 

Also in the field at 57kg are past world medalists Emese BARKA (HUN), Iryna CHYKHRADZE KHARIV (UKR) and Allison RAGAN (USA).

Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) is the second world champion that's switching weights. She was the 65kg world champion but has decided that moving down to 62kg gives her the best shot at making Russia’s Olympic team. But Trazhukova won't have to wait long to see how she stacks up against the world's best at the weight as Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) is set to make an appearance at the first Ranking Series event of the year. Tynybekova, the reigning 62kg world champion, was named a United World Wrestling History Maker after becoming the first wrestler from Kyrgyzstan to win a senior-level world title. 

Marianna SASTIN (HUN) and Yuliia TKACH OSTAPCHUK (UKR), who both have world gold on their resumes, will also compete at 62kg.  Sastin, a four-time world medalist, won her world gold in 2013, while Tkach Ostapchuk, who is also a four-time world medalist, won her world title in 2014. 


Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) is the third and final reigning world champion leaping from a non-Olympic weight class to an Olympic weight. The 2019 Comeback Wrestler of the Year is moving from 72kg up to 76kg. 

Vorobeva joins fellow Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) on the entry list at 76kg. 

But it isn't either of the Olympic champions who are the favorite coming into Rome. The clear favorite to win the weight is Adeline GRAY (USA), who made United States history by winning her unprecedented fifth world title at the Nur-Sultan World Championships late last year.

Past, Present and Future Greco-Roman Stars Set to Compete at Matteo Pellicone
Although Greco-Roman lacks the presence of a reigning world champion in the entries, there isn't a shortage of current and future stars that'll be looking to make some noise in Rome.

World runner-ups Aram VARDANYAN (UZB) and Viktor Lorincz will wrestle at 72kg and 87kg, respectively. 

Meanwhile, rising stars Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), Kerem KAMAL (TUR) and Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) are looking to make some noise on the senior-level after climbing to the summit of world ranks at the age-group World Championships in 2019.

Meanwhile, rising stars Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), Kerem KAMAL (TUR) and Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) are looking to make some noise on the senior-level after climbing to the summit of world ranks at the age-group World Championships in 2019.

El Sayed, who is wrestling at 67kg, has been extremely active since qualifying Egypt for the 2020 Olympic Games at arguably the toughest weight class in Nur-Sultan, 67kg. Shortly after the 21-year-old finished in fifth place at the 2019 World Championships, he won gold at the World Military Games then tacked on a second U23 world title to his resume. 

Kerem Kamal, who was named United World Wrestling's Junior Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year after winning his third consecutive junior world title, is entered at 60kg. The young Turkish spark plug is no stranger to the senior level. Last year, he won the Grand Prix of Zagreb, which was a Ranking Series event. He finished with a bronze medal at the European Championships before representing Turkey at the World Championships in Kazakhstan.

Kamal's most significant competition at 60kg will be China's Sailike WALIHAN, who was a world bronze medalist in 2018. 

U23 world champion Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) highlights the entries at 97kg. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan) 

Semen Novikov, a 2019 U23 world champion, rounds out the Greco-Roman rising stars that are on the entry list. He'll be accompanied at 97kg by three-time 2019 Ranking Series medalist Tracy Gangelo HANCOCK (USA). Last season, Hancock won the Grand Prix of Hungary, took second place at the City of Sassari Tournament and third place at the Grand Prix of Zagreb. At the World Championships, Hanock fell to France's 2014 world champion Mélonin NOUMONVI, who is also plugged in at 97kg. 

The Matteo Pellicone begins on January 15-18 and can be followed at www.unitedworldwrestling.org or flowrestling.org. 

Wednesday (January 15)

08:00 - Medical Examination, Weigh-in & Draw GR55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg 
10:30 - Qualification rounds & repechage GR – 55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg 
17:00 - Opening Ceremony 
18:00 - Finals GR – 55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg / Award ceremonies

Thursday (January 16)
08.00 -  Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg
10.30 - Qualification rounds & repechage GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg 
18:00 -  Finals GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg  / Award ceremonies 

Friday (January 17)
08:00 - Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg 
10:30 - Qualification rounds & repechage WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg 
18:00 - Finals WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg / Award ceremonies 

Saturday (January 18)
08:00 - Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg 
10:30 - Qualification rounds & repechage FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg 
18:00 - Finals FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg / Award ceremonies


Chamizo Wins Clash Against Gazimagomedov, Claims Fourth European Title

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 16) --- Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) dramatically claimed his fourth European title in front of a friendly Italian crowd on Sunday. He scored the match-deciding takedown with under 25 seconds left to defeat fellow two-time world champion Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS), 5-3. 

After winning his fourth European gold medal, Chamizo said this win was the sweetest because it was in front of his hometown Italian fans. “This (European title) is the best. It’s in my home; It’s the best,” he said. “European people say Italy doesn’t know about wrestling. Today, everyone was here to support me, and that’s amazing. I want to say thank you to the Italian people for coming.”

Chamizo entered the European Championships ranked No. 2 in the world, trailing reigning two-time world champion Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) by 20 points. He grabbed the 22-point gold medal and is the new top-ranked wrestler in the world at 74kg. 

“I’m wrestling in Poland. It’s a Ranking Series tournament and I want to come into (the Olympic Games) ranked No. 1,” he said. 

In the finals, Chamizo scored an inactivity point in the first period, but conceded a left-sided single leg and fell behind 2-1. 

In the second period, the Italian superstar fought off a near-takedown on the edge, and luckily for him, the refs awarded Gazimagomedov the one-point stepout point and not the two-point takedown, putting the Russian in front, 3-1. Chamizo, who trailed by two points, snapped Gazimagomedov to the mat and spun behind, but the Russian kicked out and surrendered the stepout point.

Chamizo trailed 3-2 when he jammed Gazimagomedov’s double-leg attempt with his heavy hips and spun behind for the match deciding takedown. “I knew he was coming. He needed to take my legs to win, he said. “If you want, you can come. I have a surprise for you.”

But there was still time on the clock and Chamizo nearly threw the match away with 10 seconds left. 

He gave up a single leg and was one second away from giving up the stepout. Chamizo held Gazimagomedov off long enough to defend his European crown from last year and win his fourth continental title. “The outside people say the match is too close. But, when you know you’ve trained good, you can do whatever you want.” 

After the award ceremony, Chamizo stated he believes that Gazimagomedov is a lot better than the man that beat him in last year’s world finals, Zaurbek Sidakov. “(Sidakov) is a cool guy, and he’s training good, but I think (Gazimagomedov) is much better than him,” Chamizo said. “Look, (Sidakov and I) wrestled in 2018, and my training was about 50%. I didn’t perform. It was the same thing in 2019. My knee and ankle weren’t good. Right now, I’m good. But, where is (Sidakov)?”
After winning the Ivan Yariguin title, Gazimagomedov stated a similar opinion as Chamzio. He said, “In Russia, many understand that I will win against Sidakov, but perhaps we will not be allowed to meet on the mat because we don’t have a very transparent selection system.”

As it sits now, Sidakov is the top choice to represent Russia at the Olympic Games. But, Gazimagomedov’s Yariguin win and European silver-medal finish further his case that he deserves at least a wrestle-off to show just how worthy of a competitor he is. 

Aleksandr BOGOMOEV (RUS) attacks Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) in the 61kg European finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Bogomoev and Naifonov Close out Team-Title Run for Russia 
Aleksandr BOGOMOEV (RUS) and Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) reeled in gold medals and helped the Russian Federation lock up the freestyle team title. Russia finished with 186 points, which was 70 points ahead of second-place Azerbaijan and 91 points ahead of third-place Georgia. 

Bogomoev defeated the reigning world champion and the returning European champion en route to the 61kg gold medal. His win on Sunday added Russia’s dominating lightweight performance in which they won gold in the first three weight classes. 

Bogomoev joined lightweights Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS) and Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS), who won the 57kg and 65kg gold medals, respectively. 

Bogomoev scored a last-second takedown against returning European champion Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) and moved into the finals with the 5-5 criteria win. He closed his run to the non-Olympic weight gold medal with a one-point win over returning world champion Beka LOMTADZE (GEO). 

In the finals, Bogomoev commanded a convincing 3-0 lead midway through the second period. He scored an inactivity point, then capitalized on a high crotch while he was on the shot clock. He gave up a second-period takedown, which cut his lead to one point. Bogomoev fought off a flurry of Georgian attacks and won his second European title and first defeating Lomtadze in the 2015 European Games. 

Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) finishes a shot on Myles AMINE (SMR) in the 86kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Artur Naifonov was the second Russian of the day and fifth of the tournament to claim European gold. He stopped Myles AMINE (SMR) from becoming the first athlete from San Marino to ever win a European title with a 4-0 shutout win in the 86kg finals. 

In the gold-medal match, Naifonov scored three stepouts and an inactivity point and won his second European title and first since winning the 2018 crown in Dagestan, Russia. 

Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) carries the Turkish flag around the mat after defeating Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) in the 92kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Karadeniz and Petriashvili Claim Final Two European Golds 
Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) claimed the final two golds of the European Championships. 

At 92kg, Karadeniz stopped Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) from ending Switzerland’s 85-year freestyle continental gold-medal drought. 

Karadeniz snuck behind Scherrer and nearly scored the matches first takedown but ran out of real estate and collected the inactivity point. He picked up another stepout, then tacked on an inactivity point and claimed his first European title with a 3-0 shutout victory. 

Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) won his second European title with an 11-0 win over Robert BARAN (POL) in the 125kg gold-medal match. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Petriashvili stopped Robert BARAN (POL) for the second time in the European finals and won his second European title. The three-time world champion ended the match in the first period after scoring the 11-0 technical superiority victory. His 11 points came from a stepout, two takedowns and three gut wrenches.

BRONZE - Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df. Georgios PILIDIS (GRE), via injury default 
BRONZE - Nikolai OKHLOPKOV (ROU) df. Intigam VALIZADA (AZE), 3-1 

GOLD - Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) df. Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS), 5-3 
BRONZE -  Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO) df. Miroslav KIROV (BUL), via fall 

GOLD - Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) df. Myles Nazem AMINE (SMR), 4-0 
BRONZE - Boris MAKOEV (SVK) df. Akhmed Adamovitch MAGAMAEV (BUL), 6-5 

GOLD - Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) df. Samuel SCHERRER (SUI), 3-0 
BRONZE - Aslanbek ALBOROV (AZE) df. Irakli MTSITURI (GEO), 2-0 
BRONZE - Amarhajy MAHAMEDAU (BLR) df. Marzpet GALSTYAN (ARM), 7-0 

GOLD - Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) df. Robert BARAN (POL), 11-0 
BRONZE - Levan BERIANIDZE (ARM) df. Jamaladdin MAGOMEDOV (AZE), 2-2