Geraei Leads Trio of Iranians into Greco Finals

By Ken Marantz

Mohommadali GERAEI was among three Iranians to earn spots in the finals of Greco-Roman on the opening day of the Asian Championships. The Paris 2017 world bronze medalist might have felt he's already wrestled a championship-level match.

Geraei opened his bid for a continental gold by having to get past Maxat YEREZHEPOV (KAZ), a gold medalist at last year's tournament in New Delhi and a holder of four Asian medals. 

Geraei scored on a step-out in the first period, then added a takedown in the second for a hard-fought 3-0 victory. He then took care of Bakhtovar KHASANOV (TJK) and Shohei YABIKU by technical falls to advance to the final in the night session against New Delhi 2017 bronze medalist YANG Bin. 

The two other Iranian finalists on the first day of the six-day championships at the Kozhomkul Sports Palace, Hossein NOURI (87kg) and Behnam MEHDIZADEH (130kg), will be aiming for back-to-back titles. 

Well-supported host Krygyzstan, Japan and Uzbekistan all had two wrestlers advance to the finals, while China filled the remaining spot.

Zholaman SHARSENBEKOV (KGZ) advanced to the 55kg gold-medal match against Shota TANOKURA (JPN), who had retired from the sport but returned when the UWW revived the 55kg weight class. 

In arguably the most exciting match of the day, Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) rallied from an 8-3 deficit to defeat Paris 2017 world silver medalist Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ) 13-8 in the semifinals at 63kg

Tasmuradov can expect plenty of noise during the final, when he takes on Urmalbek AMATOV (KGZ), who survived a thrilling semifinal encounter himself by beating Takayuki INOGUCHI (JPN) for an 8-7 win. 

At 87kg, Nouri's final hurdle in his bid for consecutive golds will come in the form of Masato SUMI (JPN), who had his first big international success last November with a title at the Dave Schultz Memorial. The 130kg final will pit Mehdizadeh against Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB) in a rematch of their semifinal encounter last year in New Delhi won by the Iranian.


55kg (10 entries)
Gold - Zholaman SHARSENBEKOV (KGZ) v  Shota TANOKURA  (JPN) 
Bronze –  Khroian ZHAKANSHA (KAZ) v CAO Liguo (CHN) 
Bronze – Javokhir MIRAKHMEDOV (UZB) v Kumar RAJENDER (IND)

Semifinal – Zholaman SHARSENBEKOV (KGZ) df. CAO Linguo (CHN), by TF, 8-0, 2:21
Semifinal – Shota TANOKURA  (JPN)  df. Javokhir MIRAKHMEDOV (UZB), 6-0

63kg (9 entries)
Gold - Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) v  Urmalbek AMATOV (KGZ) 
Bronze –  Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ) v Vikram KURADE  (IND) 
Bronze –  JUNG Dokyung (KOR) v Takayuki INOGUCHI (JPN)

Semifinal – Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) df. Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ), 13-8
Semifinal – Urmalbek AMATOV (KGZ) df. Takayuki INOGUCHI (JPN) 8-7

77kg (12 entries)
Gold - YANG Bin (CHN) v  Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) 
Bronze –  Shermet PERMANOV (TKM) v Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB)
Bronze – Maxat Yerezhepov (KAZ) v Shohei YABIKU (JPN)

Semifinal – YANG Bin (CHN) df. Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB), 5-1
Semifinal – Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) df. Shohei YABIKU (JPN), by TF, 8-0, 4:23

87 kg (10 entries)
Gold - Hossein NOURI (IRI) v Masato SUMI (JPN) 
Bronze –  Husham THAALEBI (IRQ) v PENG Fei (CHN)
Bronze – Azai BEISHEBEKOV (KGZ) v Khussein MUTSOLGOV (KAZ)

Semifinal – Hossein NOURI (IRI) df. PENG Fei (CHN)
Semifinal – Masato SUMI (JPN) df. Khussein MUTSOLGOV (KAZ), 4-2
130 kg (10 entries)
Gold - Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB)  v  Behnam MEHDIZADEH (IRI) 
Bronze –  Murat RAMONOV (KGZ) v Anton SAVENKO (KAZ)
Bronze – Naveen NAVEEN (IND) v NIE Xiaoming (CHN)

Semifinal – Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB)  df. Anton SAVENKO (KAZ), by TF, 8-0, :58
Semifinal – Behnam MEHDIZADEH (IRI) df. NIE Xiaoming (CHN), 6-4


Evloev Gives Host Country 74kg Freestyle Gold

By Ken Marantz

On the night the curtain came down on the Asian Championships in Bishkek, Muslim EVLOEV (KGZ) provided the perfect final act.

Evloev gave the host country a gold medal in 74kg freestyle as the tournament wrapped up its well-supported six-day run at the Kozhomkul Sports Palace with finals in five weight divisions.

Evloev, riding an early 5-point lead, never let up in defeating Mandakhnaran GANZORIG (MGL) by 11-1 technical fall with :24 remaining to give Kyrgyzstan its first Asian freestyle gold since 2015 and fourth in its history.

"It's a great feeling," Evloev said of winning at home to improve on his silver medal he won last year in New Delhi. "The crowd was really supporting me as much as they could and I couldn't fail them, so I did my best."

Iran finished up by capturing two golds, as reigning world and Olympic champion Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) cruised to his first Asian title with a victory at 86kg, and Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) followed by winning the 92kg crown.

In a duel between Georgian-born wrestlers for the 125kg title, Davit MODZMANASHVILI (UZB) defeated Giorgi SAKANDELIDZE (QAT), 5-0, in a tepid match that capped the tournament.

Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ), 61kg champion looking for a gut wrench. Photo Max Rose-Fyne. 

The other gold at stake went to Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ), a New Delhi 2017 bronze medalist who scored two takedowns in the second period of the 61kg final to top Kazuya KOYANAGI (JPN), 6-2.

Uzbekistan, which had won five medals, including two golds, on Saturday, added two bronzes to Modzmanashvili's gold to clinch the team title with 178 points. Iran finished second with 157 and Kazakhstan third with 146.

Evloev acknowledged he was heartened by the Greco victory of compatriot Akzhol MAKHMUDOV on the second day, one of the tournament's iconic moments for the thunderous ovation it elicited from the delirious crowd.

"Of course he did inspire me," Evloev said. "And I also want to say congratulations to Makhmudov because I haven't seen him yet."

In the final, Evloev used a single-leg lift to dump Ganzorig, a two-time world bronze medalist, backwards to the mat for a 4-point move, which became 5 when the Mongolian side's challenge was unsuccessful.

"It made me feel more confident, but I was going to wrestle until the last second," Evloev said of being staked to a big early lead. "That's why I won."

Photo of Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) by Max Rose-Fyne. 

Outside of the Kyrgyz wrestlers, the spotlight was squarely on superstar Yazdani Charati.

And he lived up to expectations by overwhelming Uitumen ORGODOL (MGL) in the 86kg final, scoring with a takedown and roll combination right away, and then reeling off three takedowns for a 10-0 technical fall with 36 seconds still left in the first period.

Orgodol added the Asian silver to the one he won in 2016 and his bronze from 2013.

So popular is the Iranian that he had a phalanx of Kyrygz security guards whereever he went, and was whisked pass waiting media and fans without comment after his medal ceremony and completing doping procedures.

In the 92kg final, Ebrahimizivlaei built up a 5-1 lead through the first period against Adilet DAVLUMBAYEV (KAZ), then gave up a passivity point and nothing else to take the gold with a 5-2 victory.

The plodding end to the final bout of the tournament, the 125kg final, belied the historical significance of it.

Modzmanashvili, a London 2012 Olympic bronze medalist for Georgia, took a 4-0 lead with an early takedown to a roll, then gained a point when Sakandelidze was on the activity clock in the second period, when the two giants seemed to have little desire to expend further energy.  

By winning the silver medal, Sakandelidze became Qatar's first-ever medalist at the Asian Championships. The Gulf nation's best previous showing had been fifth place.

Although it took an import to gain a spot on the medal podium, Qatari officials were ecstatic with the result.

"After a long period, this is a big success for Qatar wrestling federation, for Qatar," said team leader Vardan Ghazaryan. "For the first time in senior championships, after more than 50 years, we take such success. Qatar is very proud and it will advertise wrestling to include more young schoolboys for developing wrestling in Qatar."

Ghazaryan said the federation has high expectations for Sakandelidze, who he said has lived in Qatar for two years.

"This is, of course, his first match for Qatar, but you will see his success and medals, gold medals, in the future."

Among the bronze-medal matches, Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) overcame an 8-3 deficit with 45 seconds remaining, scoring the winning takedown in the final seconds to defeat KIM Daisung (KOR), 11-8, at 74kg.

Kim, who clearly ran out of gas down the stretch, is a 40-something high school wrestling coach who came out of retirement to make the national team, according to a South Korean federation official.

Azizbek SOLIEV (UZB) also notched a last-second takedown to upend Turtogtokh LUVSANDORJ (MGL), 4-3, in their 92kg third-place match.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran and China all came away with two bronze medals on the night, while host Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia had one each.

61kg (12 entries)
Gold - Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) df. Kazuya KOYANAGI (JPN), 6-2

Bronze - Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB) df. Sharvan SHARVAN (IND), 6x-6

74kg (12 entries)
Gold - Muslim EVLOEV (KGZ) df. Mandakhnaran GANZORIG (MGL) by TF, 11-1, 0:24

Bronze - Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) df. KIM Daisung (KOR), 11-8
Bronze - Mostafa HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) df. Dovletmyrat ORAZGYLYJOV (TKM) by TF, 10-0, 4:12

86kg (12 entries)
Gold - Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) df. Uitumen ORGODOL (MGL) by TF, 10-0, 3:24

Bronze - Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) df. Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB), 4-0
Bronze - BI Shengfeng (CHN) df. Deepak PUNIA (IND) by TF, 10-0, 3:41

92kg (10 entries)
Gold - Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) df. Adilet DAVLUMBAYEV (KAZ), 5-2

Bronze - LIN Zushen (CHN) df. SUE Changjae (KOR), 2-1
Bronze - Azizbek SOLIEV (UZB) df. Turtogtokh LUVSANDORJ (MGL), 4-3

125kg (13 entries)

Bronze - Zolboo NATSAGSUREN (MGL) df. NAM Koungjin (KOR) by TF, 10-0, 4:43
Bronze - Amin TAHERI (IRI) df. Sohbet BELLIYEV (TKM) by TF, 14-4, 3:02