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. 

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.

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.

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


Amine Makes History by Qualifying San Marino for Tokyo 2020 by Making 86kg Semis

By Ken Marantz

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Sept. 21)--- Having become San Marino’s first wrestler in history to qualify for the Olympic Games, Myles AMINE (SMR) certainly achieved his goal of making his grandfather back in the small European enclave proud. 

Amine, who was born and raised in the U.S. state of Michigan and holds dual citizenship, clinched a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for San Marino in freestyle 86kg when he advanced to the semifinals on Day 8 of the World Championships.

“It just feels incredible,” Amine said. “I know the amount of work I put in, year-round these past few years….I decided my goal was to get to the Olympics here. At first, I went to the European Championships and I had a pretty good tournament, breakout, but I knew I had a lot of work to do. I put all that work in the summer, and it paid off.”

The 22-year-old Amine who finished ninth at the European Championships in April, defeated Ahmed DUDAROV (GER) 4-2 in the quarterfinals to set up a monster task to earn a place in the finals. 

His semifinal opponent will be 2017 world and 2016 Olympic champion Hassan YAZDANI (IRI), who bulldozed his way into the last four with a technical fall and two falls. Amine looks forward to the challenge.

“I live for this kind of stuff,” he said. “To wrestle these guys that I look up to at a point in time. Even now, I still watch a lot of his technique and study him. To be able to go up and compete against a guy like that, that’s a dream of mine. I’m stoked.”

Amine’s run nearly got derailed in the previous round, when he literally scored a takedown off a counter in the last second for a 5-2 victory over 2014 world silver medalist Sosuke TAKATANI (JPN)

“I don’t know what happened there,” Amine said with a smile. “I kind of just took a bad shot and he got in. I honestly thought it would be a miracle to win that match. 

Amine, who is part of the group of wrestlers in Nur-Sultan with dual citizenship who trained at the University of Michigan under Russian legend Sergey BELAGLAZOV, said growing up in the United States and competing in the folkstyle paid off that situation. 

“I’m really good in those scramble positions,” he said. “Wrestling in the United States you learn to scramble really well and it came up big. It’s the reason why I’m going to the Olympics.”

Competing for San Marino, a country with a population of 33,000 completely surrounded by Italy, certainly can be a conversation starter for Amine, who takes great pride in his heritage. 

“I don’t think most people know what San Marino is,” he said. “It’s my heritage and my grandpa is really proud to be from there and talks about it all the time. I just talked to him last night and told him I’d try to make him proud. For this to happen, it’s surreal.”

The other semifinal at 86kg will pit Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) against Deepak PUNIA (IND), the recently crowned world junior champion.

The day session featured qualification rounds in the final four freestyle weights, with those advancing to the semifinals clinching berths for their country at Tokyo 2020. 

Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) and Kyle SNYDER (USA) both made it to the semifinals and are one match away from wrestling for the 97kg for the third consecutive year. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

The highly-anticipated showdown between 97kg titans Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) and Kyle SNYDER (USA) remained on course as the two advanced to the semifinals in separate brackets. 

Sadulaev, winner over Snyder in last year’s world final in Budapest, will face Alisher YERGALI (KAZ), while Snyder faces a stiff test in European champion and Rio 2016 bronze medalist Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE). 

In the quarterfinals, Snyder fell behind against Magomed IBRAGIMOV (UZB) before getting into gear and storming to a 13-3 technical fall. Sadulaev, who won by technical fall in his opening match, knocked off Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) 6-0.

Defending champion Kyle DAKE (USA) advanced to the semifinals of the non-Olympic 79kg division, gaining a stepout and a takedown over the final minute to secure a 5-1 victory over Gadzhi NABIEV (RUS). 

He will face Rashid KURBANOV (UZB), while the other semifinal will be a clash between Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) vs Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE)

In the non-Olympic 61kg class, Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI) emerged from a wild-and-wooly encounter with Akhmednabi GVARTZATILOV (AZE) with a 13-12 victory, and will face Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS) for a place in the final.

Gvartzatilov had handily ousted defending champion and top seed Yowlys BONNE RODRIGUES (CUB) 7-0.

Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) will square off with Rahul AWARE (IND) in the 61kg semifinals. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

The other semifinal will be a clash between 2016 world silver medalist Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) and Asian bronze medalist Rahul AWARE (IND). Aware prevailed 10-7 in a back-and-forth quarterfinal over Rassul KALIYEV (KAZ). 

In the repechage rounds to fill the bronze-medal matches in the four weight classes that started competition on Friday, Mao OKUI (JPN) secured a place for the host country at Tokyo 2020 at 74kg when he scored a takedown and two rolls in the last 30 seconds to defeat Kamil RYBICKI (POL) 6-2.

Okui, who defeated 2017 world 70kg bronze medalist Yuhi FUJINAMI (JPN) to make the Japanese team to Nur-Sultan, will face a tall task in his bid to win a bronze medal, which would have further ramifications for the 2018 world university silver medalist

A victory would clinch the Olympic spot for himself without further domestic qualifying, according to Japan federation criteria. His opponent in the third-place playoff? Four-time world champion Jordan BURROUGHS (USA), who will be aiming for his seventh world medal overall. 

At 70kg, Nicolae COJOCARU (GBR) will try to give his country its first-ever men’s world medal when he faces Yones EMAMICHOGHAEI (IRI). The Romanian-born Cojocaru defeated Joshua RILEY (AUS) by fall in the repechage. 

Two wrestlers from the host country earned chances to add to its medal haul when Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) advanced at 74kg and Nurgali NURGAIPULY (KAZ) at 92kg. 

Badzha KHUTABA (SYR) assured he would have the highest finish in freestyle in Syrian history when he advanced at 125kg. He will look to become the first medalist when he faces Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UKR).

Day 8 Pairings


61kg (25 entries)
Semifinal – Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI) vs Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS) 
Semifinal – Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) vs Rahul AWARE (IND)

70kg (30 entries)
Gold – David BAEZ (RUS) vs Nurkozha KAIPANOV (KAZ) 
Bronze –Zurabi IAKOBISHVILI (GEO) vs Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL)
Bronze – Nicolae COJOCARU (GBR) vs Yones EMAMICHOGHAEI (IRI) 

74kg (39 entries)
Gold – Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) vs Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) 
Bronze –Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) vs Zelimkhan KHADJIEV (FRA)
Bronze – Mai OKUI (JPN) vs Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) 

79kg (23 entries)
Semifinal – Kyle DAKE (USA) vs Rashid KURBANOV (UZB) 
Semifinal – Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) vs Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE)

86kg (43 entries)
Semifinal – Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) vs Deepak PUNIA (IND) 
Semifinal – Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) vs Myles AMINE (SMR)

92kg (18 entries)
Gold – J’den COX (USA) vs Alireza KARAMIMACHIANI (IRI)  
Bronze –Nurgali NURGAIPULY (KAZ) vs Irakli MTSITURI (GEO)
Bronze – Georgii RUBAEV (MDA) vs Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) 

97kg (26 entries)
Semifinal – Kyle SNYDER (USA) vs Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE) 
Semifinal – Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) vs Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS)

125kg (28 entries)
Bronze –Badzha KHUTABA (SYR) vs Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UKR)
Bronze – Khasanboy RAKHIMOV (UZB) vs DENG Zhiwei (CHN)