Iran World Team Trials

Three Yazdani’s Win Iran Freestyle Team Trials, Ghasemi Retires

By Ali Feiz

The small town of Jouybar, located in the Mazandaran province, introduced yet another talent to Iranian wrestling as three wrestlers from the Yazdani family won a spot on Iran’s freestyle team for 2019 World Championships in Kazakhstan.

Amir YAZDANI won the 65kg title in the Iran team trials, as his older cousin and two-time world champion Reza YAZDANI topped 97kg. Their relative, world and Olympic champion Hassan YAZDANI dominated at 86kg and also punched his ticket to Nur-Sultan, too. 

Iran’s coaching staff decided to hold team trials in only five weights and will select other five wrestlers according to their performance from the entirety of the 2019 season.

65kg- Winner: Amir Mohammad YAZDANI
The youngster Amir Yazdani, a cousin to Reza YAZDANI, finished the 65kg competition with two wins and a loss. Iman SADEGHI had the same record, but the cadet world silver and U23 Asian silver-medal winner beat Sadeghi, 3-2 in the first round to be the best wrestler in this weight.

His sister Zahra YAZDANI is also Asian Alysh Indoor Games champion. 

65kg
Round 1

Amir Mohammad YAZDANI df. Iman SADEGHI, 3-2
Morteza GHIYASI df. Peyman BIYABANI, 3-2

Round 2
Iman SADEGHI df. Peyman BIYABANI, 6-4
Amir Mohammad YAZDANI df. Morteza GHIYASI, 5-4

Round 3
Peyman BIYABANI df. Amir Mohammad YAZDANI, 6-1
Iman SADEGHI df. Morteza GHIYASI, 2-1

74kg Winner: Reza AFZALI
Former Asian champion Reza AFZALI returned to Iran national team at 74kg after a five years absence. Afzali had three victories on the day. The first came against 2019 Asian bronze medal winner Mohammad NOKODI. Then, Afzali defeated two-time world medal winner Seyed MOHAMMADI and capped off his day with a win against Hamed RASHIDI. 

AFZALI competed for Iran at 2014 World Championships where he finished in 13thplace. 

74kg- Round 1
Mohammad NOKHODI df. Seyed Ahmad MOHAMMADI, 4-4
Reza AFZALI df. Hamed RASHIDI, 4-0

Round 2
Reza AFZALI df. Seyed Ahmad MOHAMMADI, 9-7
Hamed RASHIDI df. Mohammad NOKHODI, 4-4

Round 3
Seyed Ahmad MOHAMMADI df. Hamed RASHIDI, 7-7
Reza AFZALI df. Mohammad NOKHODI, 5-0

86kg- Winner: Hassan YAZDANI
The brilliant performance of U23 world champion and 2019 Asian champion Kamran GHASEMPOUR, forced Iran’s national head coach to hold a wrestle-off between him and Olympic and world champion Hassan Yazdani.

Both wrestlers from Jouybar knew each other very well. Yazdani didn’t have an easy job against Ghasempour, but Yazdani earned his Kazakhstan ticket by defeating his rival 6-3.

“Ghasempour is my close friend, and he is a very good wrestler. We know each other styles very well, so it was a tough match for me.” Hassan Yazdani said after the match.

Iranian wrestling fans in attendance filled most of the seats of the Azadi Sports Complex. Hassan Yazdani was their favorite wrestler, and the fans supported him during the competition. “I appreciate the fans, and I thank them for their support. It was my duty to compete in the team trials, and I have done so during the last few years.” Yazdani added. 

After falling to David TAYLOR (USA) in 2018 World Championships, it seems Yazdani will be the favorite to win gold as defending champion Taylor will miss the World Championships due to injury. Taylor’s absence leaves Yazdani very close to his fifth Olympic and world medal at age 25.

97kg- Winner: Reza YAZDANI
Four-time world medal winner Reza Yazdani has returned to Iran’s line up after a three-year absence. Reza Yazdani has missed two Olympic medals because of injury but has focused on taking one last in Tokyo 2020.

The first world medal of YAZDANI returns to 13 years ago in 2006, and he has aimed to capture his fifth world medal in Kazakhstan.

Reza Yazdani was also the third wrestler from Jouybar and also from Yazdani family to win an Iranian team trials gold medal. The fathers of Reza and Hassan are cousins.

97kg 
Round 1
Ali Shabani df. Hamed TALEBI ZARRINKAMAR, 3-2

Round 2
Reza YAZDANI df. Ali SHABANI, 5-3

125kg- Winner: Parviz HADI
Reigning world bronze medal winner Parviz HADI ensured his participation at Kazakhstan by downing two big heavyweight rivals. Hadi, the man who beat Olympic champion Taha AKGUL in last year World Championships, faced two-time Asian champion Yadollah MOHEBBI in the first round and won the match. 4-2.

Then, Hadi met veteran and two-time Olympic medalist Komeil Ghasemi and earned the 4-0 victory. After the match, Olympic silver and bronze medal winner Ghasemi retired and turned around the hall on shoulders of Hadi and thanked the huge support of the fans as he became emotional. 

Ghasemi is the most titled heavyweight wrestler of Iran wrestling history in the Olympic Games as he achieved a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics and took silver in the 2016 Rio Games.

“It was a very difficult decision, but I made it. One day you reach the end of the road, and today it was it for me. I thank the Iranian people for their support for many years.” Ghasemi said after retirement.

125kg
Round 1

Parviz HADI df. Yadollah MOHEBBI, 4-2

Round 2
Yadollah MOHEBBI df. Komeil GHASEMI, 6-2

Round 3
Parviz HADI df. Komeil GHASEMI, 4-0

Predicted Iran Freestyle line up for 2019 World Championships
57kg- Reza ATRI
61kg- Mohammad Bagher YAKHKESHI – Behnam EHSANPOUR
65kg- Amir Mohammad YAZDANI
70kg- Younes EMAMI
74kg- Reza AFZALI
79kg- Bahman TEYMOURI
86kg- Hassan YAZDANI
92kg- Alireza KARIMI
97kg- Reza YAZDANI
125kg- Parviz HADI

Top Wrestlers of the 2010's

By Andrew Hipps

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (May 27) -- Wrestling's most significant event during the 2010's came on Feb. 11, 2013, when the International Olympic Committee announced that wrestling was dropped from the 25 core sports at the Olympic Games. The announcement sent shockwaves through the wrestling world, but the wrestling community and its leaders came together over the next seven months and fought to keep wrestling in the Games. 

On Sept. 8, 2013, the IOC overturned its decision and wrestling was reinstated for the 2020 Olympics. In the years that followed, wrestling underwent many changes, including rule modifications and additional weight categories in women's wrestling. 

With new rules also came more action and the arrival of the sport’s biggest stars. 
 
Let's examine the top wrestlers of the 2010's.
 
Kaori ICHO (JPN)
 
From 2003 to 2016, Kaori ICHO (JPN) had one of the most dominant runs ever in international wrestling. Icho had a 13-year unbeaten streak and claimed four world Olympic gold medals, becoming the first women's wrestler to accomplish the feat, and 10 world titles.
 
Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS)
 
Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS), nicknamed "The Russian Tank," won his first senior world title at the age of 18 in 2014. He went on to repeat as world champion 2015 before capturing Olympic gold at the 2016 Rio Games.  After suffering his lone defeat at a world championship in 2017, Sadulaev came back to win world titles in both 2018 and 2019. He is also a five-time European champion.
 
Jordan BURROUGHS (USA)
 
Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) has been one of the world's most consistent performers since bursting on the world stage in 2011, winning eight world or Olympic medals in nine years. Burroughs claimed his first world title in 2011 before becoming an Olympic gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics. He added world titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017, along with world bronze medals in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
 
Mijain LOPEZ (CUB)
 
Greco-Roman heavyweight Mijain LOPEZ (CUB) has compiled a wrestling resume that makes him one of the all-time greats. Lopez, now 37 years old, has won three Olympic gold medals, with two coming in the 2010's. His last Olympic gold medal came in Rio at the age of 33, which made him the 10th oldest Greco-Roman Olympic champion. Lopez has won five world titles and two world silver medals.
 
Roman VLASOV (RUS)
 
Roman VLASOV (RUS) has been one of the world's top Greco-Roman stars in the 2010's. Vlasov became a world champion at the age of 20 in 2011. The next year, Vlasov won gold at the Olympic Games in London. He earned a world silver in 2013. Vlasov claimed his second world title in 2015 before repeating as Olympic champion at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
 
Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS)
 
Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) has won two Olympic medals and four world medals during the 2010's. At the 2012 London Olympics, Vorobeva defeated two-time Olympic medalist Stanka ZLATEVA (BUL) to win gold. After winning world medals in 2013 (silver) and 2014 (bronze), Vorobeva won her first world title in 2015. She added a second Olympic medal in 2016 when she finished with a silver at the Rio Games. Vorobeva won her second world title at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan.
 
Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM)
 
Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) is one of the world's most decorated Greco-Roman wrestlers during the 2010's. Nicknamed "The White Bear," Aleksanyan has claimed Olympic or world medals in seven of the last eight years, with four being gold medals. After winning silver medals at both the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships, Aleksanyan reeled off four consecutive world-level titles.  In 2016, Aleksanyan won gold at the Rio Olympics, becoming the first Armenian Olympic Champion of the 21st century.
 
Vladimir KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO)
 
Vladimir KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) has been one of the world's most popular wrestlers for the past decade. His first major breakthrough came at the 2012 Olympic Games in London when he won a silver medal in freestyle. After winning a world silver medal in 2014, Khinchegashvili became a world champion the following year in Las Vegas. However, it was his run to Olympic gold at the 2016 Rio Games that really cemented his legacy as one of the greats. He added a third world medal, a bronze, in 2017.
 
Taha AKGUL (TUR)
 
Freestyle heavyweight Taha AKGUL (TUR) had a dominant run from 2014 to 2016, winning two world titles and the Olympic gold medal at the Rio Olympics. He added world silver medals in both 2017 and 2019, losing to rival Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) in the championship match both years.
 
Adeline GRAY (USA)
 
Adeline GRAY (USA) made history in 2019 by becoming the first American woman to win five world titles in wrestling. Her world titles came in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019. The 2016 Olympian has won gold medals at the world championships each of the last four times she has competed in the event. Her last defeat at a world championship came in 2013, when she earned a bronze medal to go along with a world bronze she won in 2011.