Four Russians Reach European Finals; Karadeniz Erases Five-Point Deficit

By Eric Olanowski

WARSAW, Poland (April 19) --- The Russian Federation emerged victorious in 12 of 13 matches on the opening day of wrestling at the Hala Widowiskowo-Sportowa and have a quartet of wrestlers vying for European gold on Tuesday night.

Nachyn MONGUSH (57kg) cruised to the finals while Zagir SHAKHIEV (65kg), Israil KASUMOV (70kg) and Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (97kg) scored come-from-behind wins to punch their tickets to the finals.

Mongush started the fire for Russia with a 2-0 win over 23-year-old Afgan KHASHALOV (AZE). The talented young Russian’s defensive skills were on display throughout the day, but his most significant defensive stop came in the closing seconds against Khashalov. Mongush fended off Khashalov’s only attack of the match and hung on to the two-point win. After reaching the finals, Mongush said, “I wanted to win or die on the wrestling mat.” He’ll wrestle two-time world medalist and returning European silver-medal winner Suleyman ATLI (TUR) for 57kg gold.

Atli looked in mid-season form during his run to the 57kg finals. The 26-year-old breezed his way to the finals with a pair of Monday wins. Atli started his day with an 11-0 shutout over Kamil KERYMOV (UKR), then beat 23-year-old Mikyay NAIM (BUL) to earn his second straight European finals berth.

In his semifinals match against Naim, Atli controlled the match's tempo and secured an inactivity point halfway through the period. Then, with 10 ticks left in the first, the 26-year-old added two points to the scoreboard with a takedown and commanded the three-point advantage. Atli gave up a stepout point but held center in the closing frame and will look to improve his European silver medal from a year ago.

Zagir SHAKHIEV (RUS) gets tangled up with Ali RAHIMZADE (AZE) in their semifinals meeting. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 65kg, Zagir Shakhiev rallied off eight unanswered points against Ali RAHIMZADE (AZE) and moved into the finals. He’ll take on Poland’s 30-year-old veteran Krzysztof BIENKOWSKI (POL) for gold on Tuesday night.

Shakiev found himself in a big hole after the opening 30 seconds but showed no signs of panic. Early in the first period, he shot a single leg, came up to his feet, and had his 23-year-old opponent’s leg dangling in the air. Shakiev's opponent used a slick back trip to sit him on his rear end. At first, the scoreboard showed that two points were awarded for the unconventional maneuver, but two additional points were awarded after a successful Azeri challenge. Shakiev stayed offensive late in the first period and cut Rahimzade’s lead to two points with a swing single.

Despite falling behind early, Shakiev scored eight unanswered points and moved into the finals with an 8-5 victory.

As he made his way back to the locker room, Shakiev said, “I imagined that the hall was full of fans and it helped me find the strength to win.” 

He’ll square off with Polish vet Krzysztof Bienkowski in the finals. The hometown hero spoiled Maxim SACULTAN’s (MDA) hopes of reaching the finals with a 7-3 victory.

The match was dull and had limited action for the first 5:50. But, in the closing 10 seconds, Bienkowski stopped a low-level attack and capitalized on a pair of exposures. Although he conceded an exposure himself, the 30-year-old will wrestle for European gold for the first time in nine tries.

Israil Kasumov was the third Russian who was victorious on Monday night. He’ll take on U23 world champion Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) for 70kg gold tomorrow night. 

Kasumov’s semifinal opponent Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM) came out hot with a single leg. Still, after the two were twisted in a pretzel-like scramble, it was the Russian who grabbed the takedown before transitioning into a right-side gut wrench. Kasumov nearly gave up a takedown with 10 seconds left but squared his hips up just enough to not give up the two-point takedown.

Bayramov had a much easier time making it to the finals. He picked up two takedowns and a stepout and defeated Ihor NYKYFORUK (UKR), 5-0.

When asked about his thoughts on tomorrow’s match against Bayramov, Kasumov said, “Tomorrow will be better than today!”

Alikhan Zhabrailov was Russia’s fourth and final semifinal winner. He gave up a late takedown and fell behind 3-1 with less than 20 seconds left. But, with ice water running through his veins, he scored a takedown with 9 seconds left and stole a 97kg finals appearance from Radoslaw BARAN (POL).

Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) stuffs a shot attempt from world bronze medalist Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO). (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Zhabrailov will try to stop Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) from winning a second consecutive European title.

Karadeniz, last year’s 92kg European champion, was getting blown out of the water in the opening period against six-time European bronze medalist Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) but held it together long enough for the Georgian to run out of gas.

In the second period, Karadeniz, who qualified Turkey for the Olympic Games through his 97kg runner-up finish at the European Olympic Qualifier, completely gassed Odikade and scored seven unanswered points to reach the finals in back-to-back years.

Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK) stops a dump attempt and puts Nika KENTCHADZE (GEO) on his back. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Gulaev and Alekma Make 79kg Finals
Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK) and Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA) will wrestle for 79kg gold -- the lone finals match that won't feature a Russian wrestler.

Early in the first, Gulaev stopped a Nika KENTCHADZE (GEO) dump attempt and opened the match up with a two-point exposure. The pair traded exposures off each other shots, but a one-point reversal gave the Slovakian a 4-3 lead. Then, in the second period, the 23-year-old scored the match-deciding step out and reached the finals with a 5-4 win.

While trailing 1-1, Alekma showed off his world-class timing by capitalizing on the inactivity clock point before stopping a half-hearted shot attempt, which he turned into a takedown and gut wrench. He went from trailing 1-1 to leading 6-1 and punching his ticket to the European finals in a matter of seconds.

Freestyle action resumes tomorrow morning in Poland at 11:30 and can be followed live on www.uww.org.


GOLD - Suleyman ATLI (TUR) vs. Nachyn MONGUSH (RUS)
SEMIFINAL - Suleyman ATLI (TUR) df. Mikyay NAIM (BUL), 3-1




GOLD - Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK) vs. Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA)
SEMIFINAL - Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA) df. Rashad YUSIFLI (AZE), 6-1

SEMIFINAL - Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) df. Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), 7-5
SEMIFINAL - Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) df. Radoslaw BARAN (POL), 3-3


Evloev Captures Gold as Russia Clean Sweeps Euros

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (April 25) -- Musa EVLOEV (RUS) is quickly establishing himself as one of the Greco-Roman greats around the world.

Ever since he captured the World title in 2018, he continues to rise to the top and on Sunday, he took another step in that direction, winning his second European title at 97kg as the senior continental Championships came to a close in Warsaw, Poland.

The 28-year-old wrestled in the final bout of the day and it wasn't even a match. Veteran Balazs KISS (HUN) tried to give a fight but Evloev was in no mood to waste time. With a series of par terre rolls, Evloev captured the gold medal with a 10-0 win in just one minute and 33 seconds.

His gold confirmed the team title for Russia as it clean swept the Championships, winning the freestyle, women's and the Greco-Roman team titles over the past seven days at the Sportowa COS Torwar stadium which is out-of-bounds for spectators.

As Evloev ascends to the top, he will be the favorite to win the gold medal in Tokyo Olympics, a title he will have to take from Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM), just like the World title in 2018.

Aleksanyan captured the World and Olympic titles from 2014 to 2017 until Evloev defeated him in the semifinal at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest. Since then, Evloev has two more wins over the Armenian, one at the 2019 World Championships and the other at the Individual World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia last year.

Meanwhile, two-time junior world champion Kerem KAMAL (TUR) will have to wait for his first senior European Championships title. For the second consecutive year, he went home with a silver medal after he lost Sunday's final against Sergey EMELIN (RUS) 1-4.

Despite the aggression of Kamal, former world champion Emelin kept his composure throughout the 60kg final to reclaim his European title which he had lost to Victor CIOBANU (MDA) in 2019.

Sergey EMELIN (RUS) European Championships 2021

Emelin, who won a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, was trailing 0-1 to Kamal at the break as he was warned for passivity. Kamal had a 5-0 lead after a big throw just before the break but a successful challenge from Russia showed there was no exposure, reversing the score to 1-0.

A minute and a half into the second period, Kamal was warned for passivity and Emelin scored on par terre, claiming a 3-1 lead. Kamal did try to score but was unsuccessful and with just two seconds left, he challenged for a point for stepout which was denied, giving the Russian the win and the first gold medal of the day.

The hopes of the home gold for Mateusz BERNATEK (POL) were dashed as Mate NEMES (SRB) dominated the final at 67kg to win the gold medal. Nemes gave his country the second gold medal in Warsaw after Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) won the gold at 87kg on Saturday.

Just 30 seconds into the final, Nemes came up with a big over the shoulder four-point throw to take the lead. With 30 seconds left for the break Bernatek was warned for passivity but he successfully defended his par terre position.

As Nemes closed-in on victory, he was warned for passivity and gave up two points for it. But as Bernatek tried desperate attempts, he was warned for using his head and penalized for two points. Nemes won the gold medal 7-2.

By winning the title, the 2019 bronze medalist from the Nursultan World Championships did what his twin brother Viktor NEMES (SRB), a former world champion, could not in three attempts.

Georgia also put its name on the title list with a gold medal at 72kg. Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) put on a defensive show to capture the gold by defeating junior world and European champion Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) 4-1.

The Georgian Olympic bronze medalist rode on his luck in the final as he was awarded two points on a lost challenge from Armenia. After being called passive a minute and 17 seconds into the bout, Bolkvadze defended the par terre position. Amoyan almost got the exposure but it was given clean by the referee, prompting Amoyan to challenge the call.

Not only he lost the challenge, the jury decided to give two points to Bolkvadze for exposing Amoyan to his back, leading 3-1. A passivity against Amoyan increased the lead to 4-1 and Bolkvadze defended it till the end to win the gold medal for his country.

Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) European Championships 2021
Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) won the gold medal at 72kg in Warsaw. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Participating in the European Championships after a gap of four years, Adlan AKIEV (RUS) made a golden return as he became the champion of the 82kg category, giving Russia their second gold medal of the night.

After reaching his first-ever European final, Akiev finished things in style by winning the gold medal 11-1 against Radzik KULIYEU (BLR).

The deadlock was broken at 1:28 when Kuliyeu was given passive and Akiev got the exposure for two from a throw. A minute later, the Russian produced an over the shoulder throw to get two more and lead 5-0 at the break.

One minute and 20 seconds into the second period, Akiev was called passive but Kuliyev failed to get in correct position and the referee called for center, leaving the score 5-1 for Akiev.

A two-point exposure and a four-point move finished the bout with an 11-1 win for Akiev, which more or less confirmed the team title for Russia with one Evloev's gold medal bout yet to be played.

Adlan AKIEV (RUS) European Championships 2021

Greco-Roman Medal Results Day 7

GOLD - Sergey EMELIN (RUS) df. Kerem KAMAL (TUR), 4-1

BRONZE - Grzegorz KUNKEL (POL) df. Razvan ARNAUT (ROU), 6-0
BRONZE - Viktor PETRYK (UKR) df. MAKARANKA Bread (BLR), 5-1

GOLD - Mate NEMES (SRB) df. Mateusz BERNATEK (POL), 7-2

BRONZE - Murat FIRAT (TUR) df. Zaur KABALOEV (ITA), 3-1
BRONZE - Slavik GALSTYAN (ARM) df. Donior ISLAMOV (MDA), 9-0

GOLD - Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) df. Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM), 4-1

BRONZE - Robert Attila FRITSCH (HUN) df. Chingiz LABAZANOV (RUS), 3-0

GOLD - Adlan AKIEV (RUS) df. Radzik KULIYEU (BLR), 11-0

BRONZE - Aivengo RIKADZE (GEO) df. Karapet CHALYAN (ARM), 3-2
BRONZE - Hannes WAGNER (GER) vs. Rajbek Alvievich BISULTANOV (DEN), 3-1

GOLD - Musa EVLOEV (RUS) df. Balazs KISS (HUN), 8-0

BRONZE - Mikalai STADUB (BLR) df. Zamir MAGOMEDOV (AZE), 3-1