Amine downs Kurguliev, USA wins three #WrestleBudapest gold

By Vinay Siwach

BUDAPEST, Hungary (July 13) -- The 86kg weight class in wrestling has long revolved around two superstars, Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) and David TAYLOR (USA). These two athletes have been trading World Championships and Olympic gold for the past five years.

However, their dominance is being challenged by a rising group of wrestlers, including Myles AMINE (SMR), the 2022 European champion. Amine, who won the Tokyo Olympic bronze medal, won a historic first European title for San Mario in Budapest last year and added silver at the 2023 edition.

Three months after their intense European Championships final, Amine and Kurguliev faced off again in the Budapest Ranking Series final on Thursday. It seemed like a déjà vu for Amine as he found himself trailing 1-1, with Kurguliev threatening to score a takedown and take the lead, much like in the European final.

Amine recognized the importance to attack and he executed a single leg takedown. Kurguliev countered and came close to securing a takedown before Amine escaped and earned two points by taking Kurguliev down. That was all Amine needed and he knew he had done enough.

Although Amine did give up a stepout in the remaining minute of the bout, it didn't matter much as he held on to win 3-2, seeking revenge for his loss in Zagreb.

"I wanted to remain locked in for six minutes," Amine said. "It was really simple -- a takedown or scramble."

Amine, who trains at the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club at the University of Michigan, looked like being on a mission on Thursday, beginning with a 4-2 win over Sebastian JEZIERZANSKI (POL) in the opening round. He followed that with an 11-1 technical superiority win over Nurzhan ISSAGALIYEV (KAZ) and a 5-0 win over  Lars SCHAEFLE (GER) in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, Osman GOCEN (TUR) posed a threat by leading 4-2. However, Amine managed to score every time he fell behind and secured a 9-8 victory.

Similar to the European final, the Budapest Ranking Series final began slowly with both wrestlers receiving penalties for inactivity. Kurguliev even took two injury timeouts for his ankle. Despite their attempts to maintain control, it was evident that a scramble was imminent.

"I think it [Thursday's bout] was similar to the European Championships final," Amine said. "My execution was better as I wanted to remain locked in for six minutes."

Perhaps Kurguliev felt the heat of Amine's constant pressure that even though he got behind Amine in a scramble but failed to finish.

"I was not thinking anything during that scramble," Amine said. "I've pulled the rabbit out of the hole a few times in my career and I attribute that to not thinking too much. I wrestle every day and I am in these situations so."

Amine's win puts the focus back on the 86kg field for the World Championships. Wrestlers have been trying to catch up with Taylor and Yazdani and the Belgrade World Championships could be the first when both can be challenged.

"Those guys [Taylor and Yazdani] have earned the place with consistent results," Amine said. "But that's what we all are trying to do now [and catch them]. I treat it as one bout at a time."

The University of Michigan had a field day as Mason PARRIS (USA) won gold at 125kg after beating local star Daniel LIGETI (HUN) in the final.

Ligeti got the crowd with a four-point arm throw, but he was forced to forfeit the bout due to a leg injury. At that point, Parris was leading 9-4.

Kyle SNYDER (USA) added another gold medal for the United States, triumphing in the 97kg weight class after Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE) withdrew from the gold medal bout.

Although both wrestlers reached the final, they had a slow start. Magomedov narrowly defeated Vladislav BAITCAEV (HUN) 7-6 in the opening bout, while Snyder secured a one-point victory over Givi MATCHARASHVILI (GEO), winning 3-2.

However, as the day progressed, both wrestlers found their rhythm. Snyder achieved a dominant 10-0 victory over Kanybek ABDULKHAIROV (KGZ), while Magomedov defeated Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) 6-3.

In the semifinals, Snyder continued his impressive form with another 10-0 win, this time against Bekzat URKIMBAY (KAZ), while Magomedov secured a 7-2 victory against Erik THIELE (GER).

Zahid VALENCIA (USA) won gold at 92kg after he defeated Matthew FINESILVER (USA) 10-0 in the final.

Valencia experienced a setback in Round 1 with a 6-3 loss against Amirali AZARPIA (IRI), but he composed himself and bounced back to win the gold against Finesilver.

After the initial loss, Valencia defeated Denys SAHALIUK (UKR) 8-2 in Round 2 and overcame world bronze medalist Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO) 5-3 to secure a spot in the semifinals, where he defeated Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ) 10-0.

Tumur Ochir wins again

Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) maintained his exceptional performance this year by claiming another gold medal in the Ranking Series. He previously won in Zagreb and Bishkek and secured a silver medal at the Asian Championships. His only loss this year came against world champion Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI).

Tumur Ochir's impressive performance in Budapest included victories over Iszmail MUSZUKAJAEV (HUN) and Nicholas LEE (USA). Notably, Lee, who will represent the US at the World Championships this year, suffered a surprising 10-0 loss in the final.

After defeating Ikromzhon KHADZHIMURODOV (KGZ), Tumur Ochir faced Muszukajaev once again and utilized his underhooks effectively to keep the Hungarian wrestler at bay. Muszukajaev struggled to mount an attack and lost 3-0, marking his second loss to Tumur Ochir this year, following their encounter in Zagreb.

Lachlan MCNEIL (CAN) met a similar fate as Tumur Ochir dominated their semifinal, winning 10-0 and securing a place in the final against Lee, who achieved a commanding 10-0 victory against Joshua FINESILVER (ISR) and Alibek OSMONOV (KGZ).

Lee had no business winning the semifinal against Islam DUDAEV (ALB) but pulled off a buzzer-beating takedown to win 6-4.

However, Tumur Ochir wasted no time in asserting his dominance in the final, executing a big four-point move using underhooks and nearly pinning Lee. As Lee defended, Tumur Ochir capitalized with two gut wrenches to take an 8-0 lead. A final takedown sealed the victory for the 2021 world bronze medalist.

At 57kg, Wanhao ZOU (CHN) surprised everyone by claiming the gold medal with an 11-3 victory over Almaz SMANBEKOV in the final.

Zou began his campaign with a 5-0 win over Kamil KERYMOV (UKR) and proceeded to defeat Roberti DINGASHVILI (GEO) 3-1 in the quarterfinals. He then shut out Ahmad MOHAMMADNEZHADJAVAN (IRI) with a 5-0 win to secure a spot in the final against Smanbekov, who advanced with a 2-2 victory over Zane RICHARDS (USA).



GOLD: Wanhao ZOU (CHN) df. Almaz SMANBEKOV (KGZ), 11-3


GOLD: Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) df. Nicholas LEE (USA), 10-0

BRONZE: Islam DUDAEV (ALB) df. Alibek OSMONOV (KGZ), 11-5
BRONZE: Ikromzhon KHADZHIMURODOV (KGZ) df. Lachlan MCNEIL (CAN), 10-0


BRONZE: Krisztian BIRO (ROU) df. Byungmin GONG (KOR), 8-7
BRONZE: Feng LU (CHN) df. Mitchell FINESILVER (ISR), 8-3

GOLD: Myles AMINE (SMR) df. Dauren KURUGLIEV (GRE), 3-2

BRONZE: Osman GOCEN (TUR) df. Lars SCHAEFLE (GER), 8-0

GOLD: Zahid VALENCIA (USA) df. Matthew FINESILVER (ISR), 10-0

BRONZE: Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ) df. Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI), via inj. def.

GOLD: Kyle SNYDER (USA) df. Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE), via inj. def.

BRONZE: Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) df. Erik THIELE (GER), 3-1

GOLD: Mason PARRIS (USA) df. Daniel LIGETI (HUN), via injury (8-4)

BRONZE: Zhiwei DENG (CHN) df. Abraham CONYEDO RUANO (ITA), 6-1


Losonczi annihilates 87kg field to book Belgrade spot

By Vinay Siwach

BUDAPEST, Hungary (July 16) -- By Ranking Series standards, the celebrations by David LOSONCZI (HUN) after winning the 87kg final was a little overboard.

Winning a gold medal at home deserved a celebration and Losonczi did not sober down. He backflipped after making a mockery of Semen NOVIKOV (BUL) in the final.

Losonczi would later explain that by winning the gold medal at the Budapest Ranking Series on Sunday, he confirmed his spot on the Hungary team for the World Championships in the 87kg weight class.

He was one of the two Hungary wrestlers to confirm the spot with Tamas LEVAI (HUN) also booking a spot by winning the 97kg gold medal at home.

Out of the seven Greco-Roman weight classes in action on Sunday in Budapest, five were Olympic weights. Apart from 87kg and 97kg, wrestlers at 67kg, 77kg and 130kg categories were also in action.

Hasrat JAFAROV (AZE) won the 67kg gold medal and compatriot Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) won the gold medal at 77kg. Iran's Amir GHASEMI (IRI) won the gold medal at 130kg.

Losonczi's win was one of the highlights of the tournament as he scored 41 points in five bouts while not giving up a single point. He won four of his five bouts, including the final, via technical superiority.

Wrestling Novikov in the final, Losonczi scored a takedown 30 seconds into the bout. A stepout made it 3-0 and a failed front headlock-to-throw attempt from Novikov added two more points to his score.

With a 5-0 lead, Losonczi remained relentless and continued his attacks. Novikov seemed to be figuring out what was going on in the bout when Losonczi scored another stepout to lead 6-0 in a minute and 33 seconds.

The referee called Novikov for inactivity and Losonczi got a point and par terre advantage. All he had to do to win the match was turn Novikov for two points. Losonczi got a roll from par terre with ease and jumped around celebrating the win.

In his earlier bouts, Losonczi had beaten Sanghyeok PARK (KOR) and Bachir SID AZARA (ALG) 9-0, Fei PENG (CHN), 8-0, in the quarterfinal, and Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) 6-0 in the semifinal.

Levai too broke out in a small dance after he defeated Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA) to win the gold medal at 97kg.

The 24-year-old won the U23 World Championships in 2021 at 77kg and has been jumping weight classes since. He won bronze medals at the 2022 World and European Championships at 82kg and debuted at 97kg at the 2023 Zagreb Open.

At the European Championships in Zagreb in April, Levai competed at 97kg and finished seventh. However, gold in Budapest has made him a dark horse at this weight class.

In front of his home crowd, Levai defeated Mathias BAK (DEN) 5-0 in his opening bout and won 4-1 against Lasha TVILDIANI (GEO) to move into the quarterfinals in which he defeated Seyeol LEE (KOR) 8-0. Daniel GASTL (AUT) was the next to fall as Levai won the semifinal 7-1.

Kakhelashvili got the first par terre advantage but he failed to score any points from there. Just before the break, Kakhelashvili was penalized for blocking Levai's face with open hands. Levai went into the break leading 2-1.

The lead extended to 3-1 when Kakhelashvili was called passive but Levai failed to inflict further damage.

However, the gold was enough for Levai to book a spot for the World Championships where he will hope to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

At 67kg, Jafarov was at his absolute best and won the gold medal, putting behind his 20th-place finish at the Zagreb Open in February.

The bronze medalist from the 2022 World Championships, defeated Din KOSHKAR (KAZ) 12-3 before a 3-1 win over Mihai MIHUT (ROU) helped him reach the semifinal against Hansu RYU (KOR).

A reverse lift for four after par terre and solid defense, when he was put in par terre, helped him beat Ryu 5-1 and book his place in the final against Joni KHETSURIANI (GEO).

Jafarov had no trouble in beating Khetsuriani 6-1 in the final to win the gold medal.

“I prepared a lot for this tournament because the World Championships is approaching and we need to prepare for it,” Jafarov said. “This tournament is perfect to prepare for the World Championships which will offer the Paris Olympics quotas.”

While he was satisfied with his performance, Jafarov thought he could have added more attacks during his bouts.

“I would have liked to attack more in this tournament but I was a little tired here. But I'll be better at the World Championships,” he said.

The former U20 and U23 world champion was wearing a new “buzzcut” and had a heavily strapped neck and shoulder. He, however, said that there was nothing to worry about. 

“No injuries,” he said. “This is my new [hair] style. I have a new haircut because I was outside Baku so I thought I can change a little.”



BRONZE: Hansu RYU (KOR) df. Mihai MIHUT (ROU), 4-1
BRONZE: Lei LI (CHN) df. Alejandro SANCHO (USA), 1-1

GOLD: Danial SOHRABI (IRI) df. Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE), via inj. def. 

BRONZE: Otar ABULADZE (GEO) df. Levente LEVAI (HUN), 8-3
BRONZE: Selcuk CAN (TUR) df. Daniyar KALENOV (KAZ), 6-1

GOLD: Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) df. Kamal BEY (USA), 4-1

BRONZE: Mohammad NAGHOUSI (IRI) df. Zoltan LEVAI (HUN), 1-1

GOLD: Erik SZILVASSY (HUN) df. Mihail BRADU (MDA), 3-1

BRONZE: Gela BOLKVADZE (GEO) df. Spencer WOODS (USA), via fall
BRONZE: Kristoffer BERG (SWE) df. Peter DOEMOEK (HUN), 7-1

GOLD: David LOSONCZI (HUN) df. Semen NOVIKOV (BUL), 9-0


GOLD: Tamas LEVAI (HUN) df. Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA), 3-1

BRONZE: Daniel GASTL (AUT) df. Mathias BAK (DEN), 6-1


BRONZE: Aliakbar YOUSOFI (IRI) df. Dariusz VITEK (HUN), 3-0