Granma y Cerro Pelado

United States, Cuba Trade Blows In Freestyle At Granma y Cerro Pelado

By Richard Immel

HAVANA, Cuba – Pan American rivals Cuba and the United States traded punches throughout the opening day of freestyle wrestling at the Granma y Cerro Pelado.

The two nations combined to have 13 wrestlers qualify for the finals, the United States with 7 and Cuba with 6. Four of tomorrow’s gold-medal matches will pit individuals from the United States and Cuba opposite one another.

Two-time bronze medalist at the World Championships Yowlys BONNE RODRIGUEZ (CUB) dazzled with a barrage of high-amplitude moves on his way to the 61 KG finals.

He opened with impressive wins over American foes Anthony RAMOS (USA) and Darius LITTLE (USA) before silencing last year’s Pan American champion Dabian Quintana (CUB), 7-4. Bonne Rodriguez will meet 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial International bronze medalist Cody BREWER (USA) for the title.

Alejandro VALDEZ TOBIER (CUB), bronze medal winner from last year’s World Championships in Paris, won both of his bouts by 10-0 scores to qualify for the 65 KG finals. Standing opposite the experience Cuban is international newcomer Robbie MATHERS (USA), who himself looked sharp with two technical superiority wins.

A pair of past Pan American champions will face off in the 70 KG gold-medal match. 2015 Pan American champion Jason CHAMBERLAIN (USA) and two-time Pan American champion Franklin MAREN (CUB) are the last two standing at this weight class.

The remaining United States versus Cuba final comes at 57 KG with 2014 Pan American champion Zach SANDERS (USA) taking on returning Cerro Pelado bronze medalist Alexei ALVARES (CUB).

Rio Olympics champion and two-time world champion Taha AKGUL (TUR) posted decisive shutout victories over Sean MOLLE (CAN) and Ceron FRANCISCO (USA) to sail to the 125 KG finals. Ben DURBIN (USA) earned the right to face Akgul tomorrow after upending returning Cerro Pelado champion Yudenny ALPAJON (CUB) in the semifinals, 4-2.

At 74 KG, London Olympic bronze medalist Livan LOPEZ AZCUY (CUB) looks to defend his Cerro Pelado title against 2017 Grand Prix of Paris bronze medalist Kubilay CAKICI (GER). Lopez Azcuy, who is a three-time medalist at the World Championships, won both of his bouts today by technical superiority.

The final Cuban in the gold-medal mix is two-time Pan American champion Yurieski TORREBLANCA (CUB) at 86 KG. Torreblanca escaped an 8-0 deficit in his opening contest by pinning Pedro CEBALLOS FUENTES (VEN). 2012 junior world champion Achmed DUDAROV (GER) is the final hurdle for Torreblanca.

U23 world bronze medalist Ty WALZ (USA) rode the momentum of a 12-2 victory over three-time world medalist Reineris SALAS (CUB) to the 97 KG finals. He will face fellow American Hayden ZILLMER (USA) in the finals. Zillmer won four international medals in 2017, but they all came in the Greco-Roman style.  

2017 Ion Corneau champion Gabriel STARK (GER) will battle Husseyin GUNDUZ (TUR) in the final round of the 92 KG round-robin bracket with the winner earning gold.

The Granma y Cerro Pelado tournament will conclude tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. local time with the freestyle wrestling finals. Complete results and a live stream of the event can be found at



57 KG

Gold: Zach SANDERS (USA) vs. Alexei ALVARES (CUB)

Bronze: Aso PALANI (CAN) vs. Eddie KLIMARA (USA)

Bronze: Pedro MEJIAS (VEN) vs. Joey DANCE (USA)

61 KG


Bronze: Anthony RAMOS (USA) vs. Dabian QUINTANA (CUB)

Bronze: Johnni DIJULIUS (USA) vs. Shelton MACK (USA)

65 KG

Gold: Alejandro VALDEZ TOBIER (CUB) vs. Robbie MATHERS (USA)

Bronze: Brandon DIAZ (MEX) vs. Lazaro CARBONEL (CUB)

Bronze: Dillon WILLIAMS (CAN) vs. Anthony ABIDIN (USA)

70 KG

Gold: Jason CHAMBERLAIN (USA) vs. Franklin MAREN (USA)

Bronze: Mario MASON (USA) vs. Hunter STIEBER (USA)

Bronze: Kevin HENKEL (GER) vs. Luis ROCHEZ (HON)

74 KG

Gold: Livan LOPEZ AZCUY (CUB) vs. Kubilay CAKICI (GER)

Bronze: Jean PERALTA (CHI) vs. Yoan SULEUETA (CUB)

Bronze: Nestor TAFUR (COL) vs. Jevon BALFOUR (CAN)

86 KG

Gold: Achmed DUDAROV (GER) vs. Yurieski TORREBLANCA (CUB)

Bronze: Pedro CEBALLOS FUENTES (VEN) vs. Martin OBST (GER)

92 KG

Gold: Gabriel STARK (GER) vs. Husseyin GUNDUZ (TUR)

97 KG

Gold: Hayden ZILLMER (USA) vs. Ty WALZ (USA)

Bronze: Erik THIELE (GER) vs. Nathan BURAK (USA)

125 KG

Gold: Taha AKGUL (TUR) vs. Ben DURBIN (USA)

Bronze: Luis VIVEWEZ (VEN) vs. Yudenny ALPAJON (CUB)

Bronze: Sean MOLLE (CAN) vs. Ceron FRANCISCO (USA)