Akgul Named 2022 Freestyle Wrestler of the Year

By Eric Olanowski

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (December 26) --United World Wrestling has announced Taha AKGUL (TUR) as the 2022 Freestyle Wrestler of the Year after his three title-winning performances in 2022.

Akgul, the three-time world champion, missed out on podium-topping finishing at the World Championships for the last seven years, with his last gold coming in 2015 in Las Vegas. But Akgul rejuvenated his winnings ways in 2022, as he defeated 2021 world champion Amirhossein ZARE (IRI) in the semifinals of the World Championships, before defeating Lkhagvagerel MUNKHTUR (MGL), 6-2, to win his third world title.

At the beginning of the season, Akgul won the Yasar Dogu Ranking Series gold with five dominant wins. The 32-year-old followed his promising Istanbul performance up with a sensational European Championships, closing out the competition with a three-point win over his arch-rival Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) to win his ninth European C’ship gold.

The three gold medals in 2022 also pushed Akgul to 68000 ranking points, enough for him to finish on the top of the pile at 125kg.

Akgul, who won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, was asked about the difference between his titles in 2015 and 2022.

"Nothing has changed. I have lost twice in the final in the past, that was very annoying. I would have been world champion five times if that had not happened. If I stay healthy and train well, I can beat everyone,” Akgul had said after winning gold in Belgrade.


Sharshenbekov secures UWW’s Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year award

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (December 30) -- Zholoman SHARSHENBEKOV (KGZ) has secured United World Wrestling’s 2022 Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year award.

Sharshenbekov reached the World Championships finals two times prior to his appearance in the 2022 finals, but this year, he broke the final barrier and won the gold medal in Belgrade.

Wrestling at 60kg, the Kyrgyzstan star defeated Edmond NAZARYAN (BUL), 11-2, in two minutes and 30 seconds to seal a memorable world title.

Had it not been for compatriot Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) at 77kg 48 hours before, Sharshenbekov would have been the first-ever male world champion for his country. Despite that, Sharshenbekov announced himself as a serious contender for the Paris Olympics.

The World Championships was not the only highlight of the year for Sharshenbekov.

He also won the Asian Championships in April over Mehdi MOHSEN NEJAD (IRI) to set the pace for the season.

The two championships gold medals and a bronze medal at the Bolat Turlykhanov Cup Ranking Series, collectively, awarded Sharshenbekov 55000 ranking points, making him the top-ranked wrestler at the end of the year.