Beach wrestling

Georgia dominates men’s Beach Wrestling season with 3 World Championships titles as Ukraine’s women take 2 golds in Zagreb

By United World Wrestling Press

Zagreb, Croatia (September 8) - Following two days of intense competition, with the action coming thick and fast in the wrestling circle in Zagreb’s Jarun Center, eight wrestlers walked off the sand with the title of Beach Wrestling World Champion. Georgia took three, Ukraine secured two, Brazil, Greece and Azerbaijan one medal each, after the “Kings and Queens of the Beach” proved their grappling skills on the sand during the four season events to establish the up-and-coming discipline of beach wrestling.

Following the opener on Portuguese sands, the wrestlers travelled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Ukraine’s Odessa before touching down on Croatian soil for the grand season finale. 11 nationalities took to the sand to not only decide on the best after four events, but also the individual winners from Zagreb. 

In the women’s, Kateryna Mashkevych (UKR) defeated Kristal Kimberly Betanzo (USA) to take the win in Zagreb in the 50kg class ahead of the young American and Portugal’s Carmen Gomes Pereira.



It was Camila Fama Tristao from Brazil who set the tone in the women’s 60kg, winning her three matches without being scored against and edging Isabel Cristina Rodrigues (POR) into second place. The Portuguese was earlier taken down by Ukraine’s Valeriia Semonkina Zlatova, who took the bronze. 

While Diana Mary Botanzo (USA) had the fastest takedown on day 1 just eight seconds into the fight, the American had no chance against Anna Mazurkevych (UKR) during round 3 at 70kg. Ukraine took the gold in this category ahead of the United States. On third place was Sonia Maria Pereira Brazio from Portugal, who took her only win in this tournament against Slovenia’s Sara Trbulin with a hard throw.

The women’s heavyweight winner in Croatia was Aikaterini Eirini Pitsiava (GRE), who defeated Ukraine’s Iryna Pasichnyk 2-1. 



Levan Kelekhsashvili (GEO) defeated the 2017 Beach Wrestling World Champion Semen Radulov (UKR) in a highly anticipated final match at 70kg, winning 4-2 to take the 4th and final leg of the World Series. Besides these two, the only US wrestler in the men’s, Michael Peters, stepped up his game to finish in third.

Without losing a single match during both days, Davit Khutsishvili from Georgia won his category in style – 3-0 in all fights – and presented himself in top form all weekend at 80kg. A clear gold for the man from Georgia ahead of Greece’s Georgios Koulouchidis, whose only defeat came from the class’s dominant Georgian. In third, Aleksandar Nikolic from Serbia secured the bronze.

Dato Marsagishvili, bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympic Games for Georgia, was dominant all weekend and capped off his campaign by scoring early and controlling the pace of the final match against Strahinja Dermanovic (SRB) at 90kg. Following the Georgian on the podium was Christos Samartsidis (GER), who won his match in pouring rain against Croatia’s Domenik Andreic. Strahinja Dermanovic completed the podium.

Four match wins to gold it was for the men’s heavyweight Oyan Nazariani from Azerbaijan, who defeated Ioannis Kargiotakis (GRE) in the final match of the day. These two made it one and two in this class ahead of Georgia’s Mamuka Kordzaia



With three times the points available during the final event in Zagreb, those wrestlers who made the podium in Croatia had the best chances of bagging the overall titles.

In the men’s it was the Georgian trio of Kelekhsashvili (70kg), Khutsishvili (80kg) and Marsagishvili (90kg) who secured the overall wins and walked off with their world championships trophies after winning all three competitions in which they participated.. The heavyweight title went to deserving champion Oyan Naziarani from Azerbaijan.

After winning not only the event on home soil in Odessa last month but also the season finale, the titles in the women’s went to Ukraine’s Mashkevych (50kg) and Mazurkevych (70kg). Pitsiava from Greece clean swept the +70kg category after dominating all her three showings in the World Series.

With two victories and a second place, Brazilian Camila Fama secured her first world championships title in beach wrestling at 60kg and now feels ready for her next tasks: “I still can’t believe it. I keep asking myself if it’s real, did I really just get that title,” said Fama in a first statement. “I feel more trustful for the next step, which will be Qatar for me. I’m starting with the right foot. I’m very proud of myself.”

It was a season of intense competitions, frequent throws and a lot of activity throughout the whole Beach Wrestling World Series earning the applause from the spectators and international interest. Topped with the coronation of eight new champions in the men’s and women’s, beach wrestling’s next big appearance will be during the 1st ever ANOC World Beach Games in Doha, Qatar mid-October.



Watch all matches and find full results here.

Results Beach Wrestling World Series Zagreb



1. Kateryna Mashkevych, UKR

2. Kristal Betanzo, USA

3. Carmen Gomes Pereira, POR


1. Camila Fama Tristao, BRA

2. Isabel Cristina Rodrigues, POR

3. Valeriia Semonkina Zlatova, UKR


1. Anna Mazurkevych, UKR

2. Diana Mary Betanzo, USA

3. Sonia Maria Pereira Brazio, POR


1. Aikaterini Eirini Pitsiava, GRE

2. Iryna Pasichnyk, UKR



1. Levan Kelekhsashvili, GEO

2. Semen Radulov, UKR

3. Michael Peters, USA


1. Davit Khutsishvili, GEO

2. Georgios Koulouchidis, GRE

3. Aleksandar Nikolic, SRB


1. Dato Marsagishvili, GEO

2. Christos Samartsidis, GRE

3. Strahinja Dermanovic, SRB


1. Oyan Nazariani, AZE

2. Ioannis Kargiotakis, GRE

3. Mamuka Kordzaia, GEO


Final Standings Beach Wrestling World Series (after 4 of 4 stops)



1. Kateryna Mashkevych, UKR                   40000

2. Carmen Gomes Pereira, POR                 31000

3. Kristal Betanzo, USA                               24000



1. Camila Fama Tristao, BRA            48000

2. Valeriia Semonkina Zlatova, UKR  34000

3. Isabel Cristina Rodrigues, POR      31100



1. Anna Mazurkevych, UKR                40000

2. Sonia Maria Pereira Brazio, POR     34000

3. Diana Mary Betanzo, USA              24000



1. Aikaterini Eirini Pitsiava, GRE              50000

2. Iryna Pasichnyk, UKR                          24000

3. Aline Da Silva Ferreira, BRA                10000




1. Levan Kelekhsashvili, GEO      50000

2. Semen Radulov, UKR              42000

3. Michael Peters, USA                19500


1. Davit Khutsishvili, GEO           50000

2. Georgios Koulouchidis, GRE    42800

3. Aleksandar Nikolic, SRB          19500


1. Dato Marsagishvili, GEO          50000

2. Christos Samartsidis, GRE       34500

3. Strahinja Dermanovic, SRB     19500


1. Oyan Nazariani, AZE                58000

2. Ioannis Kargiotakis, GRE          44300

3. Mamuka Kordzaia, GEO           35300

UWW Beach Wrestling

UWW, then known as FILA, codified the form of beach wrestling in 2004. Beach wrestling is standing wrestling done by wrestlers, male or female, inside a sand-filled circle measuring 7 meters (23 ft) in diameter. The style originally mirrored the rules used before the use of wrestling mats, and beach wrestling has been regarded as the oldest version of international competitive wrestling. The international rules have been modified in 2015 by UWW, with the current rules allowing wrestlers to score points via takedowns, pushing their opponent out of bounds, or bringing the opponent down to their back. 

Beach Wrestling World Series 2019

Chaves, Portugal | March, 29-30

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | May, 10-11

Odessa, Ukraine | August, 9-10

Zagreb, Croatia | September, 7-8

Weight classes

Men: 70 kg, 80 kg, 90 kg, and +90kg

Women: 50 kg, 60 kg, 70 kg, and +70kg

United World Wrestling is the international governing body of wrestling and is headquartered in Corsier-­Sur-­Vevey, Switzerland. To learn more about United World Wrestling and the activities of its 187 national federations, please visit: www.UnitedWorldWrestling.orgInstagramFacebook or Twitter. 

For more information please contact Tim Foley at or Gordon Templeman at

Beach wrestling

Pakistan's Inam Reaches for Beach Wrestling Glory

By Vinay Siwach

Muhammad Inam had never been to the beach. His hometown of Gujranwala is a hamlet, landlocked enclave in the northeast corner of Pakistan. For Inam the ocean, the salty air, and the wave pounded sands of the beach were nothing more than fantasy.

That was until Inam was entered to compete in the 80+ kg beach wrestling category during the 2014 Asian Beach Games in Phuket, Thailand. There Inam tasted the salt air, but also defeat.

A star wrestler in Pakistan having won Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2010, Inam finished with a bronze medal in Phuket. For a man of his stature and ability, Inam thought, a bronze medal was an underachievement.

But it was also an opportunity.

Inam decided that in the coming beach games and championships he’d be more prepared than his opponents and decided to include beach wrestling in his daily mat training and lifting routines.

"The closest beach for us was 1,300 kilometres away in Karachi," Inam said. "Going there is not possible as I have an akhara [wrestling centre] here. Pakistan's wrestling lives Gujranwala."


Muhammad INAM (PAK) and friends pose together next to the sandpit they constructed with the sand from a nearby lake.

With the help of his teammates, Inam traveled to a nearby lake and extracted sand to bring back to his akhara. Once collected he constructed a small circular practice pit.

The idea of making a sand pit for wrestling struck when he returned from Phuket and failed to find a similar training area close-by.

"I brought the sand from ponds and lakes and then made a circular ring at my center," he said. "I practice here daily. It's not costly and the young kids enjoy playing on the sand. It does not hurting them so they like the environment."

"I cannot wrestle everyday so we have small activities like beach volleyball or beach football. But I am on that sand for two hours a day so I get that feeling. My muscles get used to it."

His participation in mud wrestling competitions also grew as he wanted to increase his stamina. In 2016, Inam traveled to Vietnam for the Asian Beach Games. He returned home with a gold medal in the 90kg after beating Mohammad Sadati of Iran in the final. Out of the five bouts in the tournament, he did not concede a single point while scoring 17 of his own.

Muhammad INAM (PAK) edged Pejman Fazlollah TABAR NAGHRACHI (IRI) 2-1, and became Pakistan's first-ever wrestling world champion. (Photo: Max Rose-Fyne)

A year later, Inam became Pakistan's first-ever world champion in any form of wrestling. In Dalyan, Turkey, Inam captured the gold medal after beating Pejman Fazlollah TABAR NAGHRACHI (IRI) 2-1 in the final.

He returned to Turkey in 2018 to successfully defended his 90kg title by beating Irakli MTSITURI (GEO). In the two World Championships combined, Inam conceded only three points. His run in 2018 included four victories by fall including the final.

Hailed as the finest wrestler in Pakistan, Inam has kept his struggle going looking forward the newly minted 2019 Beach Wrestling World Series – a prize money event that touched on four location around the world. And after that a chance at the World Beach Games in Doha.

After making the pit at his wrestling centre, he practiced in that for two hours a day to adapt to the beach sand. This was not entirely new for him as he had been wrestling on mud since he was 10-years-old.

"Pakistan and India have mud wrestling and that is the base of this beach wrestling as well," he said. "My great grandfather wrestled, do did my grandfather and then my father. All of them were wrestlers in dangals so that is what helped me be good at beach wrestling."

Both the South Asian countries have traditional wrestling competitions on mud with a circular boundary, like in beach wrestling. In mud wrestling or dangals the winner is declared when one of the wrestler touches both shoulders of his opponents on the ground, a rule similar to beach.

With the easy rules and experience of competing in mud wrestling tournaments since he was a teenager, Inam knew that he has a bright chance of excelling in beach wrestling.

"I was always a mud wrestler. Pakistan had only five mats in the whole country," he said. "I would go around wrestling dangals and in 2014 I won the bronze medal at Asian Beach Games and I told myself that this is what I can be best at.

"It was a weird feeling as I was very comfortable on the sand. I had no problem find a grip in the sand because I had always practiced in mud."

Inam, a senior superintendent at the Gujranwala Electric Power Company, explains that his success on beach revolves around the fact that he decided to do what international wrestlers do on mat.

Muhammad INAM (PAK) and members of his team stand next to their makeshift sandpit. 

"It's like the side are flipped. Earlier, I used to practice for mat competitions for one month prior to competition," he said. "The Georgia, Iran and Russia wrestlers would be practicing on mat throughout the year. But now, I am practicing beach wrestling for 12 months while the mat wrestlers are practicing only a one month before the competition."

With that confidence, he wanted to win the gold medal at the World Ranking Series Final in Zagreb, Croatia this year but an unexpected problem denied him the opportunity.

"I could not get a visa to Croatia because Pakistan does not have that an embassy there," he said. "I have been dealing with such troubles for a long time."

Despite being held out of the last event for the Beach Wrestling World Series, Inam still had his sties placed on winning gold at the World Beach Games as he was the only Pakistani athlete to qualify for the Games and therefore felt more pressure to win.

Inam was drawn in a tough Group B that also had 2012 London Olympics bronze medalist Dato Marsagishvili (GEO), among wrestlers from Azerbaijan, Turkey and Portugal. He began the day with a quick win over Kanan ALIYEV (AZE).

Next up was Murat Ozkan of Turkey. Inam was tested more than his first bout the results was not different. A 1-0 win was enough to keep him on track to reach the knockout stages. But before that, Inam had a tough one to crack in the group itself.

Dato Marsagishvili (GEO), the winner of 2019 Beach Wrestling World Series Final and the only wrestler to beat Inam on beach in last two years, was up next.

Perhaps Inam was waiting for it. The bout saw a lot of action however no wrestler was able to break the deadlock for the first two minutes. It was only in the final minute that Marsagishvili was awarded a point as Inam was warned for an eye poke. Inam did not agree with the decision but had no option but to continue. In the dying seconds of the bout, Inam scored a go-behind to win the 1-1 and avenge his earlier loss.

Inam comfortably topped the group after beating Adao ANDRADE (POR) 3-0 and reached the semi-finals. Marsagishvili also made it to the last-four as a result of his second-place in the group.

As fate would have it, both wrestler won the semi-finals. Inam defeated Pedro GARCIA (ESP) 3-0 while Marsagishvili got the better of Mihai PALAGHIA (ROU) 4-0. The two were now set for a third bout inside five months. Marsagishvili had taken the first win 2-0 at the Beach Wrestling World Series stop in Rio de Janeiro in May. Inam won the bout in the group stages in Doha. The stage was set for the third bout of the rivalry in Doha with the gold medal at the inaguaral World Beach Games on line.

Muhammad INAM (PAK) downed London Olympic bronze medalist Dato Marsagishvili (GEO), 5-3, in the World Beach Games finals. (Photo: Theo Lowenstein)

Marsagashvili build a two-point lead with two single-point takedowns. Inam roared back with two of his own to lead 2-2 on criteria and knew he has to play the clock for the last 40 seconds to win the gold medal.

Marsagashvili wanted to avenge his loss to Inam earlier in the day. In a desperate move in the closing seconds of the bout, he tried to trip Inam for the win but it was the latter who managed to balance himself and exposed Marsagishvili's back. Inam was awarded three points and the top medal.

"I have wrestled him before and I knew what I lacked in that bout in Rio," Inam said. "I loved winning in Doha because everyone was shouting in the arena and I was wrestling for Pakistan. The bout was so tough and to win it after a comeback gave me more joy. I cannot explain the atmosphere that day."

Back home, he was given a hero's welcome. Everyone wanted a piece of Inam and he had interviews lined-up with channels for several days.

After a successful campaign in Doha, Inam is hoping that beach wrestling can be included in the Olympic program for 2024 Games in Paris. Though he will be 35-years-old by then, he wants to win a wrestling medal for Pakistan which last won an Olympic medal in the sport back in 1960 Games in Rome.

Muhammad INAM (PAK) celebrates after winning the World Beach Games gold medal. (Photo: Theo Lowenstein)

"Beach wrestling will keep growing as it's so easy for both wrestlers and crowd," he said. "It is viewer friendly and only three minutes long. The rules are you need to touch a wrestler's back on the ground to win. This rule in common in all dangals across Pakistan and India and most wrestling styles around the world. If not that then push out your opponent to win."

"Freestyle and Greco-Roman is different because there are typical rules. The aggressive wrestler is also going down on his back and people get confuse as to why he is being awarded points when he is down on his back."

Olympic glory would definitely bring more money and fame for Inam but he thinks it will help wrestling, which is currently 'neglected' in the country. Though the boys still practice at the few centers that are left in the countries, Inam thinks it unfortunate that Pakistan could not build a women's wrestling team.

Freestyle wrestling is yet to pick up in Pakistan while belt wrestling is seen as the more acceptable form of the sport. Inam, however, thinks that beach wrestling can pick up in Pakistan and women will also be able to take up the sport.

"Pakistan has women's teams of karate, judo, taekwondo and even cricket. So why not wrestling?" he asks. "Beach wrestling is amazing to remove these culture problems and oppression which are same for everyone.

"If they are allowed in other sports, then allow them in wrestling as well. For gender equality, it is the best way to start. I think girls should be free to think if they want to go into sports. World has changed and with that we have to change and allow girls in wrestling."