More than Medals Africa Delivered in Tunisia

By Tim Foley

HAMMAMET, Tunisia (April 10) -- Wrestlers, referees, and officials from 15 nations attended the 2019 More than Medals, Africa program last month in Tunisia. The multi-day event was open to all national federations in Africa and included wrestling-focused programming for all UWW age categories.

The program was highlighted by an anti-doping educational course led by Carlos Roy, UWW General Affairs Director.

Hammamet University, delivered the new Sport for Climate Action initiative in collaboration with Tunisian Foundation for Eco-Conscience.

MTM Africa also included an NF workshop covering proper event registration and the qualification process for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The course was delivered by Jean Daniel Rey, director of the UWW Sports Department and Youssef Bouaziz, IT Specialist.

UWW Development director Deqa Niamkey and Vincent AKA, development officer for Africa, helped deliver a number of athlete focused development programs. 


Tynybekova Grabs Historic Gold for Kyrgyzstan at Women’s 57kg; Russia Rakes in 2 Freestyle Titles

By Ken Marantz

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Sept. 20)---The Olympic berth was secondary. This was the time and place for Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) to accomplish a more historic moment for her Central Asian nation.

Tynybekova earned a place in Kyrgyzstan's sporting history as the first wrestler to win a senior world title when she captured the women’s 57kg gold medal with a 5-3 victory over defending champion Taybe YUSEIN (BUL) on Day 7 at the World Championships.

“When I started wrestling, it was just a dream for me to become world champion,” the 26-year-old Tynybekova said. “But today, the dream came true.”

Since Kyrgyzstan made its debut at the world championships in 1994, the former Soviet republic had won nine medals---including Tynybekova’s bronze in 2017---but no one had made it to the top of the podium.

Until Friday night at the Barys Arena in the capital of neighboring Kazakhstan, where a large contingent of compatriots had made the trip and were witness to this moment of national glory.

“Last year, I couldn’t participate in the world championships [in Budapest] because of an injury,” said Tynybekova, who returned to action to win the gold at the Asian Championships in April. 

“It was a serious injury and I missed six months of training. At that time, it was hard watching [the World Championships] because I wanted to be there so badly.”

Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) scored a takedown with 10 seconds left to knock off reigning world champion Taybe YUSEIN (BUL), 5-3.(Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In the final, Tynybekova gave up a point on the activity clock, then scored a takedown to lead 2-1 going into the second period. She added a stepout point, but fell behind 3-3 on criteria when Yusein scored 2 with a stepover with a minute to go.

“It was important for me to control the match from the first second to the last,” Tynybekova said. “That was the strategy of my coach. When the score was 3-3 and there was just 40 seconds, I didn’t panic. I knew I could score 2 points more.”

Indeed she did, tackling the Bulgarian to her back with about 10 seconds to go to secure the historic victory. 

“Everyone on my team, my coach and the federation believed in me, and that gave me the power to win,” Tynybekova said. 

Tynybekova was a relative late-comer to the sport, only taking it up when she was in her mid-teens. She explained that the countryside where she grew up did not have wrestling clubs. When she became aware of women’s wrestling, she knew that was the sport for her, and made a drastic life decision.

“I was 16 when I started wrestling,” she said. “Before that, I tried many kinds of sports. I was always searching for something interesting.…When I heard there was women’s wrestling in the capital [Bishkek], I gathered all my clothes and moved there.”

Along with the gold medal, Tynybekova also clinched a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The top six finishers in each of the Olympic weight classes secure berths for their countries. But that was never the main objective.

“My coach said to me that Olympic qualifying is not the main thing,” Tynybekova said. “He was confident I could get the Olympic license. 

“He said I have to make history for Kyrgyzstan. It’s not only my victory. It’s a victory of my team, of my country. This medal is not only from my effort. Many people contributed.”

After a pair of runner-up finishes, Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) finally got his long-awaited gold medal. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Meanwhile, Russia captured the two freestyle golds at stake, with Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) triumphing in his move up to the Olympic weight of 65kg, and Zavur UGUEV (RUS) successfully defending his title 57kg. Both won by technical falls.

Rashidov, a silver medalist at 61kg the past two years, overwhelmed Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) 11-0 in just 1:42, capping the victory with a spin-behind takedown for the final points.

It was by far Rashidov’s easiest match of the tournament, after he had to emerge from a demolition-derby bracket that included victories over defending champion Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) and three-time world champion Haji ALIYEV (AZE).

“I took a very long road to reach this title,” Rashidov said. “My side of the draw was more difficult to get to the final, so that was why the final was easy.”

For Rashidov, the Olympic ramifications made finally taking a gold even more special.

“This victory means a lot for me because this championship is before the Olympic year,” he said. “Tokyo 2020 is waiting for us.” 

Uguev broke open a close match with European champion Suleyman ATLI (TUR) when he scored a takedown in the second period to take a 5-3 lead, then racked up a combination of tilts and rolls to complete a 13-3 victory in 4:40

Tamyra MENSAH STOCK (USA) celebrates after dominating Jenny FRANSSON (SWE), 8-2, in the 68kg finals. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

Tamyra MENSAH STOCK (USA) gave the United States its third gold medal in women’s wrestling in Nur-Sultan when she grinded out an 8-2 victory over veteran Jenny FRANSSON (SWE) in the 68kg final.

The effervescent Mensah Stock, a bronze medalist a year ago who is unbeaten this year, reeled off three takedowns in the first period. Even when she got caught in a headlock for 2 in the second period, she slipped out of the hold for a reversal, and later got an additional point for an unsuccessful challenge. 

Mensah Stock, like 65kg champion Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) a first-time world champion, became the ninth woman in U.S. wrestling history to win a world gold.

In the bronze-medal matches, Japan had three wrestlers in action, but only one---Yukako KAWAI (JPN) at women’s 62kg---came out with a victory. That is significant because the Japanese federation had decreed that a wrestler winning a medal would automatically fill the Tokyo 2020 berth without further domestic qualifying.

Kawai joined older sister and 57kg champion Rikako on the Japan Olympic team when she rolled to a 12-1 technical fall of KIM Jong Sim (PRK). Henna JOHANSSON (SWE) took the other 62kg bronze by beating Marianna SASTIN (HUN) 4-1.

Rio 2016 Olympic champion Sara DOSHO (JPN) suffered a surprising 4-1 loss at women’s 68kg when Anna SCHELL (GER) scored a 2-point stepover early in the second period and won 4-1. 

Battsetseg SORONZONBOLD (MGL) defeated 2018 champion Alla CHERKASOVA (UKR) 2-2 on last-point criteria for the other 68kg bronze.

Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) defeated reigning world champion Takuto OTOGURO (JPN), 5-3 in the bronze-medal bout at 65kg. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

In freestyle 65kg, Otoguro’s bid to add a bronze to his 2018 gold fell short when he lost 5-3 to Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) in a testy but high-energy bout. 

Otoguro had to play catch-up late in the match, but a caution for head-slapping meant he did not have the advantage of last-point criteria when he tied the match with :24 left. His desperate attempt for the winning points resulted in Muszukajev gaining a medal-clinching takedown.

In the other third-place playoff, 2018 silver medalist Bajrang PUNIA (IND) rallied from an early deficit and a precarious few seconds on his back to edge Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL), 8-7.

At 57kg, the host country picked up a medal when Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) edged Stevan MICIC (SER) 4-3. Kumar RAVI (IND) took home the other bronze with a 6-3 win over Reza ATRINAGHARCHI (IRI).

In the women’s team competition, Japan, which was surprisingly limited to just one gold medal, had six medalists overall to top the standings with 137 points. 

Russia, with two golds, a silver and a two bronzes, placed second with 108 points, edging the United States by 3 points. China finished another 3 points behind the Americans in fourth place. 

Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) scored a stepout with under two seconds left for the second consecutive year to defeat four-time world and Olympic champion Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

Deja vu all over again: Sidanov stops Burroughs for 2nd year in row
Earlier in the night, defending champion Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) scored with one tick left on the clock for the second year in a row to end a bid by Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) for a fifth world title at 74kg

This year, Sidakov’s late point for a stepout came one round later than in Budepest, giving him a 4-3 victory in the semifinals. He will face two-time world champion Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) in the final on Saturday.

“The one thing that helps me during the match is I really believe and hope that I will win,” Sidakov said. “I know Jordan Burroughs very well and respect him. But I can say my desire to win was even stronger than last year.”

Sidakov went ahead 2-1 with a takedown in the second period, only to see Burroughs, who pulled off two come-from-behind victories in the qualification rounds, go ahead with a go-behind takedown with :45 left. 

As he did in Budapest, Sidakov desperately went on the attack, shooting for a double-leg tackle that Burroughs countered with a sprawl as he was pushed toward the edge. The two tumbled out of bounds together, and Sidakov was awarded a stepout point to clinch the win on criteria. An unsuccessful challenge accounted for the final score. 

“This year, I prepared better,” Sidanov said. “There were 12 training camps before this championships, and I trained for seven straight months. Last year, I didn’t have a world title, so I just went out onto the mat and wrestled.”

In regard to Chamizo, who defeated Zelimkhan KHADIEV (FRA) 4-1 in the other semifinal, Sidanov commented: “When me meet on the mat, it doesn’t matter who is older or younger or who has more titles. Opponents compete win me different than last year. The other wrestlers use all their power against me.”

Reigning two-time world champion Geno PETRAIASHIVILI (GEO) will take on rival Taha AKGAL (TUR) in the gold-medal bout at 125kg on Saturday night. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

As expected, the 125kg final will feature the latest clash between Geno PETRAIASHIVILI (GEO) and Taha AKGAL (TUR), who both advanced with untroubled wins.

Petraishivili, the two-time defending champion, defeated Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UKR) 6-2, while three-time former champion Akgal scored all of his points in the first period to sweep away 2018 silver medalist DENG Zhiwei (CHN) 5-0.

The final will be a rematch of the gold-medal match at the European Championships in April, which Akgal won 7-0.

At 92kg, J’den COX (USA) earned a shot at a second straight world gold by making the final, where he will face Asian champion Alireza KARAMIMACHIANI (IRI) in a rematch of the semifinals from 2018. 

Cox, a Rio 2018 bronze medalist topped Irakli MTSITURI (GEO) 3-0 and Karamimachiani stormed to a 10-0 technical fall over Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) in the semifinals.

The host nation will get another chance for a gold medal after Asian champion Nurkozha KAIPANOV (KAZ) edged Yones EMAMICHOGHAEI (IRI) 7-6 in the 70kg semifinals. He will face David BAEZ (RUS), a 5-2 winner over Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL).

Day 7 Results


57kg (34 entries)
Gold – Zavur UGUEV (RUS) df. Suleyman ATLI (TUR) by TF, 13-3, 4:40 
Bronze – Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) df. Stevan MICIC (SER), 4-3
Bronze – Kumar RAVI (IND) df. Reza ATRINAGHARCHI (IRI), 6-3 

65kg (44 entries)
Gold – Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) df. Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) by TF, 11-0, 1:42 
Bronze – Bajrang PUNIA (IND) df. Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL), 8-7 
Bronze – Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) df. Takuto OTOGURO (JPN), 5-3 

70kg (30 entries)
Semifinal – David BAEZ (RUS) df, Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL), 5-2 
Semifinal – Nurkozha KAIPANOV (KAZ) df. Yones EMAMICHOGHAEI (IRI), 7-6 

74kg (39 entries)
Semifinal – Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) df. Zelimkhan KHADIEV (FRA), 4-1 
Semifinal – Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) df. Jordan BURROUGHS (USA), 4-3

92kg (18 entries)
Semifinal – J’den COX (USA) df. Irakli MTSITURI (GEO), 3-0 
Semifinal – Alireza KARAMIMACHIANI (IRI) df. Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) by TF, 10-0, 4:16

125kg (28 entries)
Semifinal – Geno PETRAIASHIVILI (GEO) df. Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UKR), 6-2
Semifinal – Taha AKGAL (TUR) df. DENG Zhiwei (CHN), 5-0

Women’s Wrestling 

62kg (34 entries)
Gold – Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) df. Taybe YUSEIN (BUL), 5-3
Bronze – Henna JOHANSSON (SWE) df. Marianna SASTIN (HUN), 4-1
Bronze – Yukako KAWAI (JPN) df KIM Jong Sim (PRK) by TF, 12-1, 4:03

68kg (32 entries)
Gold – Tamyra MENSAH STOCK (USA) df. Jenny FRANSSON (SWE), 8-2 
Bronze – Battsetseg SORONZONBOLD (MGL) df. Alla CHERKASOVA (UKR), 2-2
Bronze – Anna SCHELL (GER) df. Sara DOSHO (JPN), 4-1