Superstars Staebler and Aleksanyan Soar to Top of European Podium

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 12) --- Deafening cheers of “Frankie” and “Artur” rebounded off the wooden topped Pala Pellicone Arena as superstars Frank STAEBLER (GER) and Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) closed out the Greco-Roman portion of the European Championships with gold medals. 

Staebler cruised past Iuri LOMADZE (GEO) in the 72kg finals and grabbed his second European title. His 6-1 win over Lomadze on Wednesday night came eight years after he won his first continental gold at the 2012 European Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

After the match, Staebler announced that this was his last time he'd compete at the continental championships. "This was the last European Championships of my career. I am very happy to end the European cycle with a gold medal. The next stop is the Tokoyo Olympic Games for an Olympic medal." 

Staebler will make his descent back down to the Olympic weight of 67kg for a run at the one thing his resume is missing -- an Olympic medal. He's wrestled twice at the Olympic Games, but he’s come up short of a podium finish in both of those appearances. He finished fifth in London and seventh in Rio.

Staebler went further on his retirement, saying, "My focus is 100% on the Olympic Games. After the Olympics, I will retire from wrestling and work as a keynote speaker."

Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) became a six-time European champion with a 7-1 win over Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA). (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Aleksanyan forged a rock-solid 7-1 finals victory over tenth-ranked Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA) and claimed his fifth career European championship title. "I am very happy that I won the gold medal for our country. It’s the second gold for us today and I think we showed some good wrestling today." 

Aleksanyan tied top-ranked Musa EVLOEV (RUS) for the world's top spot at 97kg with his win on Wednesday night. He carried 40 Ranking Series points to Rome, and with the addition of his 20-point European gold medal, the Armenian sits level with his Russian rival with 60 points.

But Aleksanyan said he isn't worried too much about his rankings. "I am not interested in what number I am in the rankings. The most important is that I got the license for the Olympics. There will be 16 athletes and I will be one of them wrestling for the Olympic gold."

The Rio Olympic champion had two goals coming into the year, and he checked one of those off tonight with his gold-medal performance. "My first goal was to become a five-time European champion. The Olympics are ahead and I want to become a two-time Olympic champion in Tokyo." 

Aleksanyan is headed back to Armenia for training camp and isn't sure when he'll compete next. When asked if he'll wrestle in the Poland Open and try to steal the No. 1 spot from Evloev, he said, "I don’t know. That’s not me who makes decisions. It's our coaches. Wherever they tell me to wrestle, I will do that. 

Gevorg GHARIBYAN (ARM) handed Armenia their second gold medal of the night with a 5-5 win over Kerem KAMAL (TUR). 

He surrendered an inactivity point in the first period and trailed 1-0. Gharibyan tossed Kamal with a massive four-point arm throw and gained the 4-1 lead after falling behind early in the first period. He extended his lead to 5-1 with an inactivity point but conceded a takedown and a caution-and-two and led 5-5 on criteria. 

Gharibyan stayed defensively sound in the final 60 seconds and stopped a flurry of Turkish attacks and won his first European title. Before his gold medal in Rome, Gharibyan never finished inside the top-ten in his two European appearances. 

Thoresen Becomes Second Norwegian European Champion in last 25 Years 
Morten THORESEN (NOR) joined Felix BALDAUF (NOR) as the only Norwegian Greco-Roman wrestlers to win a European gold medal in the previous 25 years. Furthermore, he became just the fifth Greco-Roman wrestler from Norway to ever claim a European title. 

“I think it’s pretty funny because me and Felix lived together. He’s (since) moved out and I’m the new European champion in the house,” Thoresen jokingly said.

The 23-year-old won four hard-fought matches and capped off his title run with a 2-2 win over Nazir ABDULLAEV‘S (RUS). “I had the flow through the whole competition. I had four really hard matches, but at the end of the day, I ended on top.” He trailed 2-0 in the finals but finished on top thanks to a pair of one-point second-period exchanges.

Thoresen's focus now switches to qualifying Norway for the Olympic Games. “My goal is to qualify (Norway) for the Olympics. I’m going to go home and keep on training. Hopefully, you’ll see me at the Olympic Games.” 

Norway’s Greco-Roman European Champions 
2020 - Morten THORESEN (67kg)
2017 - Felix BALDAUF (98kg) 
1992 - Lars ROENNINGEN (48kg) 
1990 - Jon ROENNINGEN (52kg) 
1988 - Lars ROENNINGEN (48kg) 
1927 - Sven MARTINSEN (58kg) 

Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) and Daniel ALEKSANDROV (BUL) shake hands after their battle in the 82kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Azerbaijan’s Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) claimed the fifth and final gold medal of the day. He collected two inactivity points and beat Daniel ALEKSANDROV (BUL), 2-1, in the 82kg gold-medal match. 

The European Championships begin on Thursday at 11:30 (local time) and can be followed live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org.


GOLD - Gevorg GHARIBYAN (ARM) df. Kerem KAMAL (TUR), 5-5 
BRONZE - Amiran SHAVADZE (GEO) df. Zhambolat LOKYAEV (RUS), 6-6
BRONZE - Murad BAZAROV (AZE) df. Helary MAEGISALU (EST), 9-0

GOLD - Morten THORESEN (NOR) df. Nazir Rachidovitch ABDULLAEV (RUS), 2-2 
BRONZE - Karen ASLANYAN (ARM) df. Krisztian Istvan VANCZA (HUN), 7-5 
BRONZE - Kristupas SLEIVA (LTU) df. Aliaksandr LIAVONCHYK (BLR), 4-2 

GOLD - Frank STAEBLER (GER) df. Iuri LOMADZE (GEO), 6-1
BRONZE - Selcuk CAN (TUR) df. Dominik ETLINGER (CRO), 7 - 5
BRONZE - Ulvu GANIZADE (AZE) df. Adam KURAK (RUS), 3-1

GOLD - Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) df. Daniel Tihomirov ALEKSANDROV (BUL), 2-1 
BRONZE - Hannes WAGNER (GER) df. Stanislau SHAFARENKA (BLR), 8 - 3
BRONZE - Bogdan KOURINNOI (SWE) df. Ciro RUSSO (ITA), 6-4

BRONZE - Aleksandr GOLOVIN (RUS) df. Artur OMAROV (CZE), 8-0
BRONZE - Cenk ILDEM (TUR) df. Matti Elias KUOSMANEN (FIN), 3-3


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