Mensah Stock, Wiebe cruise to titles at Matteo Pellicone

By Vinay Siwach

OSTIA, Italy (March 6) --- Tamyra Mariama MENSAH-STOCK (USA) had a perfect 2019. She won gold around the world beginning with the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in January and finishing with the World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. She was rising as one of the best in the world. As she stepped into 2020, she was expected to continue her gold-winning rush at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series in Rome. But she failed despite leading 8-0 in the final as Feng ZHOU (CHN) came back to win 8-8 on criteria.

A year later, Mensah-Stock was back at the same arena to try and change the color of her medal. With a display of composure, style and dominance, the American wrestler claimed the 68kg gold medal by defeating European champion Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL) 11-0 in the final at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome on Friday.

The 29-year-old world champion had a little sluggish start but turned it around in her own style to claim the gold medal after coming agonizingly close to it last year. Apart from a surprise toss she suffered in her first-round bout against Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE), she looked in total control of her three bouts.

"I performed a lot better at the end compared to the entire tournament," Mensah-Stock said."I was trying to remember who I am and the switch was in my first match when she (Hanzlickova) threw me. I was like 'okay I don't want that to happen again.'"

She did exactly that, outscoring her opponents 28-4 and defending all attacks that were thrown at her. The final in particular saw Mensah Stock display why she was the best in her category in the world. She defended a pair of leg attacks from Hristova and countered them with her own to finish the match.

"When I went to the final I said you know what, I am here to wrestle so let's do this," she said. "I was getting myself motivated and talking to myself. I wrestled my way and did not worry about what she had."

Eica WIEBE (CAN) after winning the gold medal at Matteo Pellicone

Another wrestler who came into the event with high hopes was Rio Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN). The defending champion at 76kg category did have some hiccups but prevailed in all her bouts to win her second consecutive gold medal in Rome.

Wiebe led Canada's dominating show at the event as Michelle FAZZARI (CAN) also won the title down at 62kg weight category after beating Marianna SASTIN (HUN) 2-1. Olivia Grace DI BACCO (CAN) contributed with a bronze medal at the 68kg weight category after a 6-4 win over Alexandria Junis GLAUDE (USA).

Wiebe, who suffered a loss by fall just a week back in Kiev, Ukraine, took her time to get going in all her bouts. She opened the day with a 5-1 cautious win against Aline DA SILVA FERREIRA (BRA). Her semi-final against Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ) was a 2-0 win, both points scored in the first period.

Even in the final against Hamza, Wiebe took her time to finally start her attacks. She was warned for passivity but got into work mode in the activity period, scoring a four-point throw. She then controlled the entire bout, winning the gold 11-0.

"My nephew's named Matteo and the Matteo Pellicone is my lucky tournament and I am happy to do him proud," Wiebe said. "My first two opponents, they have qualified for the Games, they are great competitors, I have never wrestled Samar (Hamza) before so it's exciting to feel her out."

Wiebe has suffered some unexpected losses in recent times including at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan in 2019 with the latest being the fall in Kiev. But that has not hurt her preparations for the Tokyo Olympics where she will be the defending champion.

"It's great to get on the mat after such a hiatus and everything is building for Tokyo," she said. "I am excited to get back home and continue to do that, trying to get back into the swing of competing and trying to figure out this sport. I just tried to wrestle and be myself there."

At 57kg, Giullia RODRIGUES PENALBER DE OLIVEIRA (BRA) scored two late takedowns against Asian champion SARITA (IND) to win 4-2 and claim the gold medal.

Both Mensah Stock and Wiebe have five Ranking Series titles to their names. The USA wrestler has won five gold medals, a silver and two bronze in total. Wiebe has six medals in total as she won a bronze medal at the Klippan Lady Open in 2018.

Not revealing much about her plans for the USA Olympic Trials, Mensah Stock said, "Olympic trials are next. I am training for myself, working hard to get better for myself and when it comes to anybody, I really don't know who I am going to be wrestling.

"It can be anybody's day. I don't want to say the name because I am training for anybody. I want to go out and wrestle my way."

Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) won the gold at 77kg

Earlier, three new Greco-Roman champions were also crowned in Rome as Robert Attila FRITSCH (HUN) won the gold at 72kg. Zolton LEVAI (HUN) defended his title at 77kg while Russian national champion Adlan AKIEV (RUS) took the top honors at 82kg.

Fritsch was up against returning silver medalist Selcuk CAN (TUR) and was behind 0-2 but staged a comeback in the second period to win 2-2 on criteria. It was a disappointing end for Can who was looking to change the colour of his silver medal from last year to gold. All four points in the bout were either passivity or pushouts.

Levai successfully defendied his title at 77kg after a comfortable 3-1 win against Yunus Emre BASAR (TUR) in the final. En route his gold medal, Levai notched up wins against Patrick Harrison SMITH (USA) 2-0 in quarter-final and Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) 11-1 in the semi-finals.

Akiev dominated the 82kg final with big throw to take a 5-1 lead against Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR), a returning silver medalist in Rome. Akbudak did try to make a comeback but had to be content with the silver.


Final #WrestleRome GR Team Scores:
GOLD: Russia (175 points)
SILVER: Second Hungary (145 points)
BRONZE: Turkey (136 points)
Fourth: Kazakhstan (134 points)
Fifth: India (82 points)

GOLD - Robert FRITSCH (HUN) df. Selcuk CAN (TUR), 2-2
BRONZE - Kuldeep MALIK (IND) df. Chingiz LABAZANOV (RUS), 10-9

GOLD - Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) df. Yunus BASAR (TUR), 3-1
BRONZE -Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) df. Patrick SMITH (USA), via fall

GOLD - Adlan AKIEV (RUS) df Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR), 6-1"
BRONZE - Tamas LEVAI (HUN) df. Matteo MAFFEZZOLI (ITA), 8-0
BRONZE - Laszlo SZABO (HUN) df. Salih AYDIN (TUR), 2-1

Women’s Wrestling

BRONZE - Francesca INDELICATO (ITA) df. Anshu ANSHU (IND), via inj. def.

GOLD - Michelle FAZZARI (CAN) df. Marianna SASTIN (HUN), 2-1

GOLD - Tamyra STOCK MENSAH (USA) df. Mimi Nikolova HRISTOVA (BUL), 11-0
BRONZE -  Olivia Grace DI BACCO (CAN) df. Alexandria Junis GLAUDE (USA), 6-4
BRONZE -  Sofiya Hristova GEORGIEVA (BUL) df. Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE), via inj. def

GOLD: Erica Elizabeth WIEBE (CAN) df. Samar HAMZA (EGY), 10-0
BRONZE -   Enrica RINALDI (ITA) df. Matilde CALDARELLI (ITA), 10-0


'Focused' Chamizo Steals Gold Against Burroughs at Matteo Pellicone

By Vinay Siwach

OSTIA (Italy), March 8 --- After a 25-month wait, Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) and Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) finally met again on the mat.

At the Yasar Dogu in 2019, Chamizo had decided to sit out of the final, giving Burroughs the win. This was five months after the American had scored his third win over Chamizo at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov event in February.

Sure, the pandemic delayed the matchup but Burroughs' loss at the 2019 World Championships  semifinal to Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) in September deprived the fans of a rematch in NurSultan, Kazakhstan. Chamizo was on the other side of the bracket and reached the final against Sidakov.

But on a blockbuster Sunday at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome, the two superstars clashed for the sixth time in what is quickly becoming wrestling's prized rivalry in recent years.

For the record, Chamizo closed the gap with Burroughs in head-to-head to 4-2 after winning a tense gold medal bout 3-2 at 74kg. Two of Chamizo's points were step out while one was for Burroughs passivity. Even Burroughs scored his two via step outs.

“I am feeling good. I did not even know he (Jordan) will be here,” Chamizo said. “I thought it would be an easy competition. My training is less but I am focused. That's what it is right now. I'm focused on my goals.”

Both wrestlers got into an intense scramble in the first period of the bout which resulted in Chamizo scoring a step out from a situation that seemed advantageous for Burroughs.

Chamizo explained the situation in the post-final interview. “I think he is a little bit scared when there's a scramble,” he said. “He loses focus and that's when I attack. When there is a scramble, he loses focus. He is like I don't want to be here.”

The bout was once again the most anticipated bout in Rome and like always was a medal bout. The two have wrestled for world medals, Ranking Series medals including the title which shows how dominant the two have been in their weight categories.

While Burroughs had talked about how is focused on winning his second Olympic gold medal after missing it in 2016 at Rio, Chamizo has been particularly expressive about being the top guy at 74kg.

Every tournament before the grand event in August will only be a virtual pit stop for wrestler but Chamizo thinks that the changes he has brought in himself will be enough to propel him to the top when it will matter the most five months from now.

“Before, I had training but I had no focus,” he said. “Now, I am a real 74kg. You see the difference between 2018 and now. Jordan is the best. For me, I always prepare for him. But I am the champion. I don't want to say but I the new man.”

It was evident in the final bout as well as Chamizo controlled the center of the mat instead of chasing Burroughs who has a tendency to pounce on the slightest of openings offered the opponent.

“I am training for this. I want to be in the center against him,” he said. “He has good scrambles and attacks. He is like a train. So I want to stay in the center and see what happens.”

Leading into the finals, Burroughs outscored his opponents 9-1 in the two bouts. 2019 Asian champion and world bronze medalist Daniyar KAISINOV (KAZ) was the first to fall to the American 5-0 before he beat Narsingh YADAV (IND) 4-1 in the semifinal.

On the other side, Chamizo had a roller-coaster especially in the quarter-final against Malik AMINE (SMR). Chamizo was at one point trailing Amine but managed to come back and win 13-8.

In the semifinal, Chamizo closed a 6-0 win over Franklin GOMEZ (PUR) to set up the summit clash against Burroughs.

Bajrang PUNIA (IND)

In other freestyle action, Bajrang PUNIA (IND) defended his title at 65kg with a tense 2-2 win over Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) in the gold medal bout. This was Punia's fifth gold medal at a Ranking Series event, making him the most successful freestyle wrestler at the series.

In a far from ideal bout in the final, Punia was left struggling to find an opening against Ochir. He was put on shot-clock and did not score giving a 1-0 lead to Ochir, who later scored a step out to lead 2-0. With 30 seconds to go, Ochir went for a shot but missed, while Punia capitalized on it to take a takedown with 14 seconds remaining.

“It was a good match with him. I am wrestling after a year off and he is also an Olympic qualified wrestler so it was a tough bout,” Punia said. “Before the Olympics, I want to wrestle every Tokyo qualified wrestler..”

Punia began with a 7-0 win over Selim KOZAN (TUR) but was tested by Joseph McKEENA (USA) in the semifinal. It was a rematch from last year which Punia won 4-2. This time, he improved the score to 6-3.

Ochir, on the other hand, dominated his opponents starting with Hamza ALACA (TUR) who he beat 10-0 before a 4-0 win against ROHIT (IND).


In an all-USA final at 86kg, former junior world silver medalist Zahid VALENCIA claimed a stunning 11-0 victory over Mark HALL (USA), himself a two-time junior world champion at 74kg.

Valencia was undoubtedly the top performer of the day as he outscored his opponents 34-2, winning all his bouts via technical superiority.

Another American wrestler who struck gold was Alec PANTALEO (USA) at 70kg. He defeated world silver medalist at 65kg Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) twice in the day to claim the gold medal.

The surprise came at 61kg where U23 World Championships silver medalist Adlan ASKAROV (KAZ) defeated world and European silver medalist Suleyman ATLI (TUR) 8-3 in the first bout of the day. The Kazak youngster remained unbeaten for the day and claimed the gold medal while Atli settled for silver.  

World Championships bronze medalist Nurislam SANAYEV captured the top position at 57kg by defeating Nicholas SUNIARO (USA) twice in the day. In the final, Sanayev beat the US wrestler 4-2 while in the day the score was 3-2.

The 79kg gold medal was captured by veteran Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ). He had to see off a late challenge from David Vincent MC FADDEN (USA) before winning 6-5.

Rio Olympics silver medalist at 86kg Selim YASAR (TUR) won the gold medal at 92kg to close out the competition which was the first Ranking Series event of the year.


Final #WrestleRome MFS team scores

GOLD: USA (190 points)
SILVER: Kazakhstan (178 points)
BRONZE: Turkey (113 points)
FOURTH: India (98 points)
FIFTH: Italy (48 points)

Men's freestyle

GOLD: Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) df. Nicholas Raymond SURIANO (USA) 4-2


GOLD: Bajrang PUNIA (IND) df. Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) 2-2
BRONZE: Hamza ALACA (TUR) df. ROHIT (IND) 12-10
BRONZE: Joseph Christopher McKENNA 8-2 Selim KOZAN (TUR)

GOLD: Alec William PANTALEO (USA) df. Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) 4-0

GOLD: Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) df. Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) 3-2
BRONZE: Nurkozha KAIPANOV (KAZ) df. Franklin GOMEZ MATOS (PUR) 8-1
BRONZE: Daniyar KAISANOV df. Narsingh Pancham YADAV (IND) 5-0

GOLD: Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ) df. David Vincent MC FADDEN (USA) 6-5
BRONZE: Muhammet Nuri KOTANOGLU (TUR) df. Ramazan Ishak SARI (TUR) 6-0

GOLD: Zahid VALENCIA (USA) df. Mark HALL (USA) 11-0
BRONZE: Myles Najee MARTIN (USA) df. Clayton Steven PYE (CAN) 12-2