Ibrahim Moustafa Ranking Series: World champs highlight strong WW field


ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (February 17) -- The second Ranking Series event, the Ibrahim Moustafa, is days away. The event will take place February 23-26 in Alexandria, Egypt.

The results will not only give ranking points to the wrestlers, but they will also be crucial in determining the four seeds for the upcoming continental championships. Ibrahim Moustafa will be the second event in which UWW will award prize money and a two-kilogram weight tolerance will be allowed in each weight class.

Like in Zagreb, this event will also feature a strong women's field with 133 wrestlers including nine world champions and 34 World Championships medalists.

All the action from Egypt starts next Thursday and can be followed live on uww.org or on the UWW app.

Below are five storylines to keep an eye on next weekend.

Parrish, Nichita among 2022 world medalists competing

Alexandria will welcome eight 2022 World medalists, counting two gold medalists, two silver medalists and four bronze medalists.

Highlighting this group are world champions Domnique PARRISH (USA) and Anastasia NICHITA (MDA). Competing at 53kg, Parrish secured the title on her senior World Championships debut in September. That same week, Nichita became just the second Moldovan woman to win a senior world title, when she topped the 59kg podium.

A pair of reigning silver medalists, Kayla MIRACLE (USA) and Grace BULLEN (NOR), will wrestle in the same bracket next week. Miracle is a two-time runner-up, securing silver at 62kg in 2021 and 2022. Bullen, who won her first senior medal last year at 59kg, has decided to bump up to 62kg.

The host country will cheer for Samar HAMZA (EGY) as the 2022 silver medalist is entered at 76kg and will be one of the favorites to claim the gold at home.

The 2022 bronze medalists expected to compete are Mengyu XIE (CHN) at 55kg, Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR) at 62kg and Epp MAE (EST) at 76kg

Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ)Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) is the only two-time world champion in the field. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Nine past world champions in the field

Nine women head into Alexandria with gold hardware to their names. Two weight classes 59kg and 62kg -- feature multiple world champs.

Wrestling at 59kg is 2022 champion Anastasia Nichita and 2014 winner Yuliia TKACH (UKR), while the 62 kg competitors include two-time world champion Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ), 2021 champion at 59kg Bilyana Dudova and 2018 champion Taybe YUSEIN (BUL).

In addition to Nichita, there is one other reigning gold medalist, Dom Parrish, who will compete at 53kg. The other three are 2019 champion Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA), 2018 champion Ningning RONG (CHN) and 2021 champion Meerim ZHUMANAZAROVA (KGZ). Winchester will wrestle at 55kg with Rong at 57kg and Zhumanazarova at 68kg.

Bilyana DUDOVA (BUL)Bilyana DUDOVA (BUL) is one of the three world champions at 62kg. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

World champs highlight stacked 62kg bracket

The 62kg weight class has a ton of star power coming into the second Ranking Series event with three past world champions and six other past world medalists. Aisuluu Aisuluu is the only two-time world champion in the entire women’s field. She earned titles in 2019 and 2021. Also winning a world gold in 2021 was Bilyana DUDOVA (BUL), who claimed her title at 59kg. She will be competing at 62kg next week. The final world champ in this weight is 2018 winner Taybe Yusein. All three world champs also have other medal-winning performances, and between the three of them, they combine for four golds, four silvers, three bronzes and two Olympic medals.

Other medalists registered include silver medalists Kayla Miracle, who has earned two, Jia LONG (CHN), Grace Bullen and Iryna KOLIADENKO (UKR) and bronze winners Xiaojuan LUO (CHN) and Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR).

Skylar GROTE (USA)Skylar GROTE (USA) is coming off a gold medal win in the first Ranking Series event. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Seven finalists from first Ranking Series

Last month, the UWW Ranking Series kicked off in Zagreb, Croatia. Seven finalists from the Zagreb Open are expected to compete in Alexandria, including two champions and five runners-up.

Looking for their second Ranking Series gold of the season are Anastasia Nichita at 59kg and Skylar GROTE (USA) at 76kg. Nichita won gold at the 2022 senior World Championships and also has a 2018 U20 gold medal. Additionally, Nichita won last year’s Yasar Dogu as part of the 2022 Ranking Series. Grote, who won the Zagreb Open at 72kg, is bumping up to 76 kg for action in Egypt. Overall, she has competed in three Ranking Series events and medaled in all three. In addition to gold last month, she collected a gold and bronze medal last season.

Silver medalists from the Zagreb Open registered to compete in Egypt include Jiang ZHU (CHN) at 50kg, Yongxin FENG (CHN) at 57kg, Bullen at 62kg and Dalma CANEVA (ITA) at 72kg.

Samar HAMZA (EGY)Samar HAMZA (EGY) will lead the host nation's charge in Alexandria. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Egypt to host first Ranking Series event

Next week will mark Egypt’s first time hosting a Ranking Series tournament. Egypt has held the African Championships and Arab Championships in the past. The host country will have great representation in the women’s field with 16 athletes registered. Among them is multiple-time World Championships medalist Samar Hamza at 76kg, who is the first and only Egyptian woman to win a world medal at the senior level. She is joined by two-time age-group world medalist Nada MOHAMED (EGY) at 50kg and several senior African Championships medalists, including Shaimaa MOHAMED (EGY), Louji YASSIN (EGY), Farah HUSSEIN (EGY), Mentalla BADRAN (EGY), Eman MOHAMED (EGY) and Mona AHMED (EGY).


Shikhdzhamalov explains the mystery move in Alexandria

By Vinay Siwach

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (March 5) -- Iakub SHIKHDZHAMALOV (ROU) is looking for a name for his move that broke the internet.

At the Ibrahim Moustafa Ranking Series tournament in Alexandria, Egypt last week, Shikhdzhamalpv won his 74kg semifinal against Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) after trailing 3-0. Nothing was working for him until he hit a "scoop", an unofficial name for the same in the wrestling lingo.

However, Shikhdzhamalov says that he does not know what to call the move which has been shared and viewed by millions on social media.

"There is no name for this move," Shikhdzhamalov said. "I am now thinking of a name for this move. I guess it will be my personal move."

It is not the first time Shikhdzhamalov has performed the move, a mix of cut-back and outside trip. Over the years, he has used it in various competitions and even during training but Shikhdzhamalov says one cannot prepare to execute it.

"I’ve been using this move for quite a long time," he said. "Nobody showed it to me. I managed to do it once at the training around 7-8 years ago. My coach noticed that I was good at doing it, and we tried to practice it together, but it was not even possible to do it during the training bout. It only works during the real match when you are concentrated."

Shikhdzhamalov explained the setup and execution of the same. He stressed that a wrestler should perform it at a very high speed to catch his opponent by surprise.

"When the opponent is pushing you and putting his hand underhook, that’s the right moment to do it," he said. "It’s very difficult to explain the technical part of it and also difficult to show how to do it, but it really works well. The most important is the high speed while making the move." 

After the tournament, Shikhdzhamalov opened his social media and to his surprise, he received praise and feedback about the skill which he is proud of.

"Since I performed it at this tournament, there were so many comments and feedback about it," he said. It wasn’t just an occasional move. Yet, no one can do it. Even in my wrestling gym, the guys know that I can make this move, but no one can repeat it. If someone learns to do it, I would be really glad."

Training in Dagestan has helped Shikhdzhamalov improve his skills with the guidance of Gamid GAMIDOV and his personal coach Anvar MAGOMEDGADZHIEV.

After struggling at 79kg weight class last year where he failed to win a gold medal, Shikhdzhamalov has emerged as a contender for the gold at the European Championships.

"The 74kg weight class is preferable for my body," he said. "Last year I wrestled at 79kg because I had some health issues, I had to figure out what the problem was. The doctors advised me not to cut my weight at all. Last year my weight was about 77-78kg, although I wrestled at 79kg. This year I’ve solved all the problems and I went down to my weight class, since it’s more comfortable for me.

"I will wrestle for gold at the Europeans and the World Championships. I know most of the leaders in this weight class."

The European Championships in Zagreb, Croatia next month will be the first big test that Shikhdzhamalov will face before the World Championships. But after the gold medal in Alexandria, he hopes he can create more upsets in the weight class as the Olympics approach.

"Next tournament for me is the European championships," he said. "I don’t want to mention specific names that I would like to wrestle at 74kg, but for later tournaments, I am getting ready for the American, Iranian, Italian and all other leaders. I am getting ready to wrestle anybody and win. It's certainly interesting to wrestle against the top guys."