Abuladze falls short against Dalkhani, yet again

By Eric Olanowski & Vinay Siwach

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (February 23) -- Leri ABULADZE (GEO)'s quest to find a win against Meysam DALKHANI (IRI) will have to continue for now. In the space of 16 months, he has faced Dalkhani twice and lost both bouts. Both are ever so dramatic.

Back in 2021, Abuladze led 4-3 when Dalkhani forced a stepout and a failed challenge from Abuladze gave him a 5-4 win in the final of the 63kg at the World Championships in Oslo. The bout in Alexandria on Thursday, a 63kg final, albeit not of a World Championships, saw Dalkhani pull off a victory by the thinnest of margins once again.

No doubt Dalkhani had to dig deep to pick up the win but it was the Iranian’s conditioning late in the second period that helped him win. 

Dalkhani made the early inroads with a 5-0 lead at the break, but after giving up an inactivity point and three consecutive guts, he watched his lead evaporate and turn into a two-point advantage for Abuladze who came out firing in the second period.

As the referee called both wrestlers to the center after that exchange, Abuladze looked a relieved man.

In Oslo, Abuladze had one minute to score for a win. Now, he had to defend for a minute. But like that final, he failed.

Dalkhani scored a stepout to cut the lead to just one point and needing a takedown at 7-6 with a minute to go, he put on the burners. The pair traded heavy exchanges in the 60-second sprint, but it was a re-drag with ten seconds left that pushed Abuladze to give up a takedown and Dalkhani to the 63kg gold.

Not only in the final, the 2021 world champion, making a comeback since that freak elbow injury at the Bolat Turlykhanov Cup in Almaty last year, looked composed throughout the day.

Using his strong gut wrench, he defeated Syimyk MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) 7-0 in the opening bout and kept fellow world champion from Oslo, Victor CIOBANU (MDA), quiet in a 4-0 win using an aggressive approach in the second period. The semifinal was a quieter affair as Madiyar MALTEKBAYEV (KAZ) thought he had it until Dalkhani won 2-1.

Another Oslo world champion, Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) joined Dalkhani at the top of the podium on Thursday as he captured the gold medal at 97kg after beating Roberti KOBLIASHVILI (GEO).

The gold medal winners at the four Ranking Series events this year will receive 1500 Swiss Francs while the silver medalists will get 750 Swiss Francs. The two bronze medalists in each weight class will receive 500 Swiss Francs each.

Saravi won the gold after Kobliashvili pulled out injured in the final. But the day was nothing short of testing for the world bronze medalist from Belgrade.

Earlier in the morning, Saravi began with a 2-0 win over Giorgi MELIA (GEO), followed that with a 5-2 victory over Tamas LEVAI (HUN) who won silver in Zagreb and Artur OMAROV (CZE) 5-2 in the semifinal.

Amangali BEKBOLATOV (KAZ)Amangali BEKBOLATOV (KAZ), right, wrestles Marlan MUKASHEV (KAZ) in the 55kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Apart from Iran, Kazakhstan and Georgia were the most successful nations on the first day of the Ibrahim Moustafa Ranking Series, the second of the year after the Zagreb Open, with four finalists each.

At 55kg, Amangali BEKBULATOV (KAZ) won the gold over compatriot Marlan MUKASHEV (KAZ), who had defeated two-time world silver medalist Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) in a wild 13-4 victory. But he failed to go past Bekbolatov who won 6-1 in the final.

In an early exchange to kick off the gold medal match, Bekbolatov used an aggressive left-side arm drag and picked up the first takedown of the match. In one continuous swopping motion, he linked together a back arching throw on the edge of the circle and controlled the bout with a six-point cushion.

Bekbolatov stayed technically sound in the final four minutes focusing on shutting down Mukashev’s offense by controlling the left side of the body. This game plan worked to perfection, as the only point he surrendered in the gold-medal bout was a failed challenge, which in fact was the only point he gave up in his three bouts.

After he closed out the scoreless second period, Bekbolatov won his first Ranking Series title as he finished with a silver medal in Istanbul last year. But he went a step further by winning the gold in his season-opening international tournament.

Merey BEKENOV (KAZ)Merey BEKENOV (KAZ) lifts Sailike WALIHAN (CHN) for a throw. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Merey BEKENOV (KAZ) was the second wrestler from Kazakhstan to win the gold medal as he stole the gold from Joni KHETSURIANI (GEO) in the 67kg final.

The two matched each other move-to-move with the Kazah giving up aninactivity point and a gut wrench in the first period but scored on the same sequence and grabbed the criteria win against his Georgian opponent.

Bekenov would be proud of his campaign in Alexandria as he scored a 7-1 win over Olympic bronze medalist Sailike WALIHAN (CHN) followed by a massive 9-7 win over HUSIYUETU (CHN) in the semifinal. Hasiyuetu was fresh off a gold-medal-winning performance in Zagreb including a win over Olympic champion Luis ORTA (CUB)

Lasha GOBADZE (GEO)Lasha GOBADZE (GEO) launches Ali CENGIZ (TUR) for a four-point throw in the 87kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliksan)

While other Georgians failed to win the gold, Lasha GOBADZE (GEO) at 87kg saved the day for his country with a classic performance in the final to beat Ali CENGIZ (TUR) 10-1.

Gobadze was clear in his intentions, and those were to close out the bout early. He quickly jumped out to an 5-0 lead, scoring a four-point throw and an inactivity point. Despite giving up a point after his leg-foul challenge was wrong, Gobadze got a second shot on top and again tossed Cengiz for four to close out the match, 10-1.

Kerem KAMAL (TUR)Kerem KAMAL (TUR) won his 60kg final against Yernar FIDAKHMETOV (KAZ) 9-0. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Showman Kamal

There is very little someone can dislike about Kerem KAMAL (TUR) on the mat. He has the utmost respect for his opponent, wrestles squeaky clean, and wins with a lot of class. This was on display on Thursday as Kamal raced to a season-opening gold medal which sets the tone for the defending European champion.

Wrestling against Yernar FIDAKHMETOV (KAZ) in the 60kg final, Kamal earned an early shot in par terre and took full advantage of it. He quickly jumped out to a 7-0 lead against his Kazakh opponent, scoring the inactivity point, a pair of two-point correct throws, and a two-point leg foul.

After a 90-second break to adjust Kamal’s scoring sequence due to a challenge, he then jumped out to the left side of Fidakhmetov and ended the bout with a third correct throw of the match.

His power was on display all through the day be it the 9-0 opening win against Razvan ARNAUT (ROU) or the calm 5-2 win over Liguo CAO (CHN) in the quarterfinals. The young Nurmukhammet ABDULLAEV (KGZ) suffered an 8-0 beating at the hands of Kamal in the semifinals.

Abdellatif MOHAMED (EGY)Abdellatif MOHAMED (EGY) won the 130kg gold in front of his home crowd. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Hero at home

Abdellatif MOHAMED (EGY) has already set a benchmark for the local Egypt wrestlers at the tournament by winning the gold medal at 130kg in the final bout of the evening. He defeated Tokyo Olympian Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU), 3-0, to take the gold medal.

While the field missed Riza KAYAALP (TUR) and Amin MIRZAZADEH (IRI) from the original entries, Mohamed made sure he makes the most of this opportunity that too in front of his home crowd.

Nothing seemed to work for Ciurariu who was blanked by a solid defensive performance by Mohamed who scored the two activity points and a pushout.

With a big women's squad entered for Egypt, the girls will like to keep the trend of winning the medal at home going for the rest of the tournament.


GOLD - Amangali BEKBOLATOV (KAZ) df. Marlan MUKASHEV (KAZ), 6-1 

BRONZE - Iskhar KURBAYEV (KAZ) df. Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO), 7-3
BRONZE - Denis MIHAI (ROU) df. Sardarbek KONUSHBAEV (KGZ), via fall

GOLD - Kerem KAMAL (TUR) df. Yernar FIDAKHMETOV (KAZ), 9-0

BRONZE - Haithem MAHMOUD (EGY) df. Haodong TAN (CHN), 7-3
BRONZE - Razvan ARNAUT (ROU) df. Nurmukhammet ABDULLAEV (KGZ), 3-1

GOLD - Meysam DALKHANI (IRI) df. Leri ABULADZE (GEO), 8-7

BRONZE - Dastan ZARLYKHANOV (KAZ) df. Mukhamedali MAMURBEK (KAZ), 14-4



GOLD - Lasha GOBADZE (GEO) df. Ali CENGIZ (TUR), 10-1

BRONZE - Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) df. Sunil KUMAR (IND), 9-0

GOLD - Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) df. Roberti KOBLIASHVILI (GEO), via inj. def. 

BRONZE - Artur OMAROV (CZE) df. Giorgi MELIA (GEO), 9-4
BRONZE - Markus RAGGINGER (AUT) df. Olzhas SYRLYBAY (KAZ), 5-1

GOLD - Abdellatif MOHAMED (EGY) df. Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU), 3-0 

BRONZE - Zviadi PATARIDZE (GEO) df. Salaheldin ABBAS (EGY), 8-0
BRONZE - Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ) df. Roman KIM (KGZ), 5-1


Shikhdzhamalov explains the mystery move in Alexandria

By Vinay Siwach

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (March 5) -- Iakub SHIKHDZHAMALOV (ROU) is looking for a name for his move that broke the internet.

At the Ibrahim Moustafa Ranking Series tournament in Alexandria, Egypt last week, Shikhdzhamalpv won his 74kg semifinal against Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) after trailing 3-0. Nothing was working for him until he hit a "scoop", an unofficial name for the same in the wrestling lingo.

However, Shikhdzhamalov says that he does not know what to call the move which has been shared and viewed by millions on social media.

"There is no name for this move," Shikhdzhamalov said. "I am now thinking of a name for this move. I guess it will be my personal move."

It is not the first time Shikhdzhamalov has performed the move, a mix of cut-back and outside trip. Over the years, he has used it in various competitions and even during training but Shikhdzhamalov says one cannot prepare to execute it.

"I’ve been using this move for quite a long time," he said. "Nobody showed it to me. I managed to do it once at the training around 7-8 years ago. My coach noticed that I was good at doing it, and we tried to practice it together, but it was not even possible to do it during the training bout. It only works during the real match when you are concentrated."

Shikhdzhamalov explained the setup and execution of the same. He stressed that a wrestler should perform it at a very high speed to catch his opponent by surprise.

"When the opponent is pushing you and putting his hand underhook, that’s the right moment to do it," he said. "It’s very difficult to explain the technical part of it and also difficult to show how to do it, but it really works well. The most important is the high speed while making the move." 

After the tournament, Shikhdzhamalov opened his social media and to his surprise, he received praise and feedback about the skill which he is proud of.

"Since I performed it at this tournament, there were so many comments and feedback about it," he said. It wasn’t just an occasional move. Yet, no one can do it. Even in my wrestling gym, the guys know that I can make this move, but no one can repeat it. If someone learns to do it, I would be really glad."

Training in Dagestan has helped Shikhdzhamalov improve his skills with the guidance of Gamid GAMIDOV and his personal coach Anvar MAGOMEDGADZHIEV.

After struggling at 79kg weight class last year where he failed to win a gold medal, Shikhdzhamalov has emerged as a contender for the gold at the European Championships.

"The 74kg weight class is preferable for my body," he said. "Last year I wrestled at 79kg because I had some health issues, I had to figure out what the problem was. The doctors advised me not to cut my weight at all. Last year my weight was about 77-78kg, although I wrestled at 79kg. This year I’ve solved all the problems and I went down to my weight class, since it’s more comfortable for me.

"I will wrestle for gold at the Europeans and the World Championships. I know most of the leaders in this weight class."

The European Championships in Zagreb, Croatia next month will be the first big test that Shikhdzhamalov will face before the World Championships. But after the gold medal in Alexandria, he hopes he can create more upsets in the weight class as the Olympics approach.

"Next tournament for me is the European championships," he said. "I don’t want to mention specific names that I would like to wrestle at 74kg, but for later tournaments, I am getting ready for the American, Iranian, Italian and all other leaders. I am getting ready to wrestle anybody and win. It's certainly interesting to wrestle against the top guys."