BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (April 12) -- Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) was not only aiming to complete a three-peat of Asian titles. There was a score to settle and wasn't going to let the chance to waste.

Dauletbekov willed himself to a late 4-point takedown to post a 5-2 victory over nemesis Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB) in the freestyle 86kg final at the Asian Championships on Friday in Bishkek, avenging a pair of losses over the past three years including one that kept him out of the Tokyo Olympics.

"I am very happy to be a three-time Asian champion, winning the gold medal for my country," Dauletbekov said. "I’ve been working hard for that. Thanks a lot to my coaches. It’s a team effort."

World champion Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) handily won the gold at 125kg for his first Asian title which, combined with a victory at 92kg by Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI), gave Iran exactly half of the 10 gold medals over the two days of freestyle at Bishkek Arena.

The host country got its first gold when defending champion Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) scored a late takedown for a dramatic victory at 61kg, while Japan picked up its second as Kota TAKAHASHI also left it late in winning at 74kg and denying Tajikistan just its second-ever Asian gold.

Iran captured the team title for the sixth time in seven years with 190 points. Japan finished second with 130, followed by host Kyrgyzstan with 121, three points ahead of neighbor Kazakhstan.

Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ)Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) scores a crucial takedown over Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB) in the 86kg final during the Asian Championships. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kostadin Andonov)

Dauletbekov, a world bronze medalist the past two years, became the second wrestler at the tournament to complete the Asian three-peat after Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) did it the day before at 65kg.

For all Dauletbekov's shining credentials, Shapiev has remained a thorn in his side. Although Dauletbekov won 4-0 in a bronze-medal match at the 2018 Asian Championships in their first meeting, the Uzbek defeated him by fall at the 2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier -- Shapiev went on to place fifth in Tokyo -- and then again at last year's Asian Games, where Dauletbekov finished out of the medals.

On Friday, Dauletbekov managed to step up when the chips were down.

"The final match was a matter of principle for me," Dauletbekov said. "I lost to him [Shapiev] at the Asian Games. I think that match was controversial. I am very happy that I could win here."

In the first period, the scoring was limited to an activity point awarded to Dauletbekov, but Shapiev was on the receiving end of the next one in the second period, which put him ahead on criteria.

Dauletbekov, however, was not to be denied. He secured a body lock and used an inside trip to send Shapiev crashing to his back for a 4-point takedown. A penalty point for fleeing on Dauletbekov in the final seconds accounted for the final score as he added the title to the ones he captured in Ulan Bataar in 2022 and last year at home in Astana.

"I won my second Asian title at home, there were many fans, I will remember that tournament," he said. "This Asian Championships was successful for me. You saw that in the final, I was losing 1-1, but I could make a 4-point move to win the match with a 5-2 score."

Dauletbekov said he is considering entering the Budapest Ranking Series tournament in June as a last tuneup for the Olympics. He said he's been keeping tabs on the competition and likes his chances in Paris.

"I followed the [European] Olympic qualifier in Baku," he said. "There are many strong opponents in my weight class. I’ll be ready for them and hope everything will work out."

Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI)Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) won the 125kg with a technical superiority over Aiaal LAZAREV (KGZ). (Photo: United World Wrestling)

In the final match of the night, Zare showed why he is the dominant heavyweight in the sport today. Facing Aiaal LAZAREV (KGZ) -- at age 38, 15 years his senior -- Zare put on a clinic in quickly transitioning from takedown to exposure points in cruising to an 11-0 technical fall.

"Due to the good training we went through at the Iran national team camp, I participated in this match with less than 100% preparation and thanks to God I could get the gold," Zare said.

Lazarev was on the activity clock when Zare scored a takedown with a slick ankle pick. Before the 30 seconds had finished, the Iraninan had ripped off a pair of gut wrenches, giving him a 7-0 lead going into the second period. A takedown right to a roll for 4 ended the match with 32 seconds left.

Zare, a Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist and world champion in 2021, will be heading into the Paris Olympics on quite a roll. Since winning the world title last year in Belgrade -- which included victories over superstars Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) and Taha AKGUL (TUR) -- he won golds at the Asian Games and this year's Zagreb Open.

"This is my last competition before the Olympics," Zare said. "I needed both the ranking points and the fact that the Asian medal is valuable for our country, and thank God I didn’t return empty-handed."

Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ)Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) defended his 61kg title at the Asian Championships in Bishkek, thanks to a last ditch takedown in the final. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

In the 61kg final, Zhumashbek Uulu didn't cut it as close as he did in his semifinal match earlier in the day, but he still took it to the wire to defeat Assyl AITAKYN (KAZ) 3-1 and complete a successful defense of his title.

Both wrestlers received an activity point, but Aitakyn got his midway through the second period to lead on criteria. With 20 seconds left, Zhumashbek Uulu scored a snap-down, spin-behind takedown to clinch the win to the delight of the partisan crowd.

In the semifinals, Zhumashbek Uulu was trailing on criteria when he hit a 4-point back trip in the last second for a stunning 11-7 victory over Reza ATRI (IRI).

Kota TAKAHASHI (JPN)Kota TAKAHASHI (JPN) scores a takedown to take a decisive lead in the 74kg final against Victor RASSADIN (TJK). (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kostadin Andonov)

Takahashi's 6-3 victory in the 74kg final against Viktor RASSADIN (TJK) followed a similar pattern. Takahashi got the first activity point, but was trailing on criteria when Rassadin got the second in the second period.

Takahashi, a 2022 world U23 bronze medalist who was making his international senior debut, then put the pressure on. That left an opening that Rassadin used to get in on a low single, but Takahashi nimble-footed out of it, then turned and charged Rassadin for a takedown.

"The opponent went into a firm defensive stance," Takahashi said. "I wanted to attack, but I couldn't get through where I wanted to. I couldn't score any takedowns and I was starting to get impatient."

The 20-year-old Takahashi said he was inspired by the victory at 57kg the previous night by Kento YUMIYA (JPN), his teammate at Nippon Sport Science University, often referred to as Nittaidai.

"Kento Yumiya won the title, and that made me a little anxious," Takahashi said. "I wanted to show that Nittaidai wrestling is strong. And I couldn't do less than a classmate the same age."

Rassadin was penalized a point for fleeing on the takedown, and Takahashi took advantage of the par terre position to score an exposure for a 6-1 lead. Rassadin scored a stepout, with a fleeing point tacked on, but it was not enough to deny Takahashi.

Rassadin was aiming to join Yusup ABDULSALAMOV (TJK), who triumphed in the same weight class in 2003 in New Dehli, as Tajikistan's lone Asian gold medalists.

Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI)Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) celebrates after winning the 92kg gold medal in Bishkek. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

At 92kg, Firouzpour regained the title he won in 2022 when he relied on his solid base and raw power to chalk up six stepouts in an 8-3 victory over teenager Sherzod POYONOV (UZB).

Firouzpour, the world U20 and U23 champion in 2022 and winner at this year's Yasar Dogu tournament in Turkey, scored three stepouts in the first period, while giving up one himself. He added three more in the second before finally scoring a takedown off an underhook. Poyonov scored a consolation takedown in the final seconds.

Kum Chol RI (PRK)Kum Chol RI (PRK) blanked Reza ATRI (IRI) 11-0 in the 61kg bronze medal bout. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Amirreza Aliasgari)

DPR Korea picks up 2nd bronze in return

In the bronze-medal matches, Kum Chol RI (PRK) gave the DPK Korea its second bronze in its return to the Asian Championships after a five-year absence by putting together a masterful 11-0 victory over 2022 world silver medalist Reza ATRI (IRI) at 61kg.

After scoring a nifty low-single takedown, Ri showed incredible dexterity and balance when he twice cartwheeled out of front-headlock counter lifts, both of which he turned into stepouts. The Iranians challenged the second, but it was denied to give Ri a 5-0 lead.

In the second period, Ri, making his first international appearance since winning an Asian cadet title in 2014, spun behind for a takedown, then went back and forth with an arm bar roll to finish off the match in 4:16.

The other 61kg bronze went to Enkhbold ENKHBAT (MGL), who put together a somewhat unusual winning pattern in a wild 18-7 victory over Akash DAHIYA (IND).

Enkhbat twice used a takedown and lace lock combination to chalk up big points -- eight in the first period and 10 in the second to end the match. But in between, he allowed Dahiya to come back and score seven points to cut the gap to one.

Sangho HAN (KOR) gave Korea its first medal of the competition with an amazing comeback at 74kg, overcoming a seven-point deficit to defeat teenager Alp BEGENJOV (TKM) 17-7 and deny Turkmenistan its first-ever senior Asian medal in freestyle.

The 17-year-old Begenjov came out on fire, kicking out the leg for a 4-point takedown before adding a stepout and a takedown for a 7-0 lead. But then he ran out of gas, and Han took full advantage, scoring two takedowns, a stepout and two exposures to go ahead 9-7 at the break.

It was more of the same in the second, as he used a lace lock for four points, then a takedown to a roll for four more to end the match at 3:34.

Iran added two bronze medals to its final tally with victories by Hossein ABOUZARI (IRI) at 74kg and Hadi VAFAEIPOUR (IRI) at 86kg.

Abouzari, making his senior Asian debut, scored all of his points in the second period of a 5-2 victory over 2021 champion Syrbaz TALGAT (KAZ). Vafaeipour had an easier time with Peilong LI (CHN), scoring two takedown-exposure combinations in a 10-0 technical fall in 2:31.

Tatsuya SHIRAI (JPN), a 2022 world U23 champion appearing in just his second international tournament on the senior level, came away with the other 86kg bronze with a 3-0 victory over Atai IZABEKOV (KGZ). Shirai was the aggressor throughout and was rewarded with two activity points, then added a stepout at the buzzer.

Bahrain had two wrestlers named SHARIPOV in action, and both came away with bronze medals with one-sided victories.

Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN) picked up his second straight Asian bronze at 92kg after scoring four takedowns, including a 4-pointer, in a 10-0 technical fall over Suhe GANG (CHN), and Shamil SHARIPOV (BRN) scored a second-period fall over Anirudh KUMAR (IND) after building an 8-2 lead at 125kg.

Batzul DAMJIN (MGL) won the other 92kg bronze and broke some host country hearts, scoring a duck-under takedown with 40 seconds left for a 2-2 victory on criteria over Nurtilek KARYPBAEV (KGZ). Both of Karypbaev's points came on the activity clock.

BUHEEERDUN (CHN) needed just 44 seconds to secure his second straight bronze at 125kg, scoring a takedown and executing four gut wrenches for a 10-0 victory over Odgerel BATKHISHIG (MGL).



Day 2 Results


61kg (15 entries)

BRONZE: Kum Chol RI (PRK) df. Reza ATRI (IRI) by TF, 11-0, 4:16
BRONZE: Enkhbold ENKHBAT (MGL) df. Akash DAHIYA (IND) by TF, 18-7, 5:29

74kg (16 entries)

BRONZE: Hossein ABOUZARI (IRI) df. Syrbaz TALGAT (KAZ), 5-2
BRONZE: Sangho HAN (KOR) df. Alp BEGENJOV (TKM) by TF, 17-7, 3:34

86kg (12 entries)
GOLD: Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) df. Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB), 5-2

BRONZE: Hadi VAFAEIPOUR (IRI) df. Peilong LI (CHN) by TF, 10-0, 2:31
BRONZE: Tatsuya SHIRAI (JPN) df. Atai IZABEKOV (KGZ), 3-0

92kg (12 entries)
GOLD: Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) df. Sherzod POYONOV (UZB), 8-3

BRONZE: Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN) df. Suhe GANG (CHN) by TF, 10-0, 3:34
BRONZE: Batzul DAMJIN (MGL) df. Nurtilek KARYPBAEV (KGZ), 2-2

125kg (11 entries)
GOLD: Amir ZARE (IRI) df. Aiaal LAZAREV (KGZ) by TF, 11-0, 5:27

BRONZE: Shamil SHARIPOV (BRN) df. Anirudh KUMAR (IND) by Fall, 4:15 (8-2)
BRONZE: BUHEEERDUN (CHN) df. Odgerel BATKHISHIG (MGL) by TF, 10-0, :44