Sadulaev Leads Group of Four Russians into Saturday's European Finals

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 13) --- The Russian Federation, led by Abdulrashid SADUALEV (RUS), posted a 13-1 record on the opening day of freestyle wrestling and inserted four of five wrestlers into Saturday night's European finals. 

Sadulaev extended his European win streak to 21 consecutive matches after bringing an unblemished 17-0 record into Rome. 

The four-time world champion and Rio Olympic gold medalist picked up top-ten wins over No. 4 Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) and No. 6 Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), and also had his hand raised against Ibrahim BOLUKBASI (TUR) and Nurmagomed GADZHIYEV (AZE). 

Sadulaev started his day with an 8-2 win over reigning world bronze medalist Nurov. Despite picking up the 8-2 win, he got lateral dropped for two points in the opening period and trailed 2-0.

Sadualev survived another scare in his second match when Bolukbasi locked up a cradle and nearly pinned him. He fought off his back and scored nine unanswered points, winning the match, 9-4. 

In the quarterfinals, he defeated Nurmagomed Gadzhiev, 10-4, in a rematch of last year’s European Games finals. 

In the semifinals, Sadulaev ousted sixth-ranked Odikaze, 6-0. He took Odikadze down three times in the first period and led 6-0 after the opening three minutes of the match. He moved into the European finals for the sixth time after a scoreless second period.

He’ll square off with Olympic bronze medalist Albert SARITOV (ROU) in the 97kg gold-medal match. Saritov slammed Gennadij CUDINOVIC (GER), 10-0, and will wrestle for European gold for the first time in his career. 

Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS) was one of four Russian wrestlers who reached the European finals with wins on Friday night (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS), Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS) and Magomed RAMAZANOV (RUS) are the three other Russians who’ll join Sadualev in gold-medal matches on Saturday night. 

Tuskaev defeated Horst LEHR (GER), 5-4, in the semifinals and will take on defending champion Suleyman ATLI (TUR) in the finals. The Russian led Lehr 4-0 in their semifinals match, and though he was outscored 4-1 in the final period, he hung on to win, 5-4.

Tuskaev’s final opponent, Atli, won three matches and is one win away from defending his European crown from last year. Atli defeated No. 3 Stevan MICIC (SRB), 7-5, in the opening round. He tossed Micic to his back with a massive four-point throw and scored a second consecutive win over the Serbian Olympian and “2020 History Maker of the Year” award winner. He also beat Micic in the semifinals at the 2019 World Championships.

In his second match, Atli cruised to a 7-1 win over two-time European medalist Andrei DUKOV (ROU), who knocked off ninth-ranked Givi DAVIDOVI (ITA), 4-4, in his opening-round match. 

Atli wrestled Mihran JABURYAN (ARM) in the semifinals and reached the finals with a 6-3 win over the Armenian. 

Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS) looks to finish on shot on Erik ARUSHANIAN (UKR) in the 65kg semifinals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 65kg, 20-year-old ring star Kurban Shiraev carried over his hot streak from the Ivan Yariguin and made it to the European finals in his senior-level continental debut.

Shiraev, who defeated Rio Olympic champion Soslan RAMONOV (RUS) in the Yariguin finals, tallied four takedowns and stepout against Erik ARUSHANIAN (UKR) and inserted himself into the finals with a 9-2 win. 

He’ll compete against Niurgun SKRIABIN (BLR) in the 65kg gold-medal match. 

Skriabin scorched fourth-ranked Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN), 10-0, in their quarterfinals meeting. Then, in the semifinals, Skriabin upended Ali RAHIMZADE (AZE), who was fresh off a 7-0 opening round thumping of Rio Olympic champion Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO).

Magomed RAMAZANOV (RUS) finishes a shot on two-time world runner-up Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE) in the 79kg semifinals. (Photo: Gabor Martin) 

Magomed Ramazanov reached the 79kg European finals in his continental debut. He capped off his day with a win over reigning two-time world silver medalist Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE). Ramazanov stopped the Rio Olympic bronze medalist from reaching the European finals for the seventh time in his career with a 4-2 win. 

Ramazanov and Mahamedkhabib KADZIMAHAMEDAU (BLR) will wrestle for the 79kg gold medal. Kadzimahamedau efficiently handled Dzhemal ALI (BUL), 10-1, in their semifinals meeting.

Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL) will wrestle in his fifth European finals. He'll take on Aghahuseyn MUSTAFAYEV (AZE) in the 70kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Mustafayev and Gadzhiev to Wrestle for the 70kg Gold 
The lone finals match on Saturday night that won’t feature a Russian wrestler will be the 70kg gold-medal match. 

Aghahuseyn MUSTAFAYEV (AZE) moved pasted Mihail SAVA (MDA) and will meet fourth-ranked Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL) in the gold-medal match.

Mustafayev, a returning European finalist, outscored Fati VEJSELI (MKD) and Haydar YAVUZ (TUR), 12-0, and reached the semifinals. He picked up the 5-2 win over Sava and will look to improve on his runner-up finish from a year ago. 

Gadzhiev, a reigning world bronze medalist, outscored Mirza SKHULUKHIA (GEO), 4-0, in the final 90 seconds of the pair's ultra-physical semifinals bout and claimed the 4-1 victory. He’ll wrestle in the European finals for the fifth time in his career. Gadzhiev is 1-4 in European finals and is hoping to reach the top of the podium for the first time since 2016.  

Gadzhiev European Finals Appearances 
2010 European Championships – Silver 
2015 European Games – Silver
2016 European Championships – Gold 
2017 European Championships – Silver 
2018 European Championships – Silver 

Saturday’s freestyle finals being at 18:00 (local time) and can be followed live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org.

GOLD - Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS) vs. Suleyman ATLI (TUR)
SEMIFINAL - Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS) df. Horst Justin Junior LEHR (GER), 5-4
SEMIFINAL - Suleyman ATLI (TUR) df. Mihran JABURYAN (ARM), 6-3 

GOLD - Niurgun SKRIABIN (BLR) vs. Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS)

GOLD - Aghahuseyn MUSTAFAYEV (AZE) vs. Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL)
SEMIFINAL - Aghahuseyn MUSTAFAYEV (AZE) df. Mihail SAVA (MDA), 5-2
SEMIFINAL - Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL) df. Mirza SKHULUKHIA (GEO), 4-1 

SEMIFINAL - Mahamedkhabib KADZIMAHAMEDAU (BLR) df. Dzhemal Rushen ALI (BUL), 10-1 
SEMIFINAL - Magomed RAMAZANOV (RUS) df. Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE), 4-2 

GOLD - Albert SARITOV (ROU) vs. Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS)
SEMIFINAL - Albert SARITOV (ROU) df. Gennadij CUDINOVIC (GER), 10-0 
SEMIFINAL - Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) df.  Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), 6-0


USA closes out U17 Worlds with 3 golds, historic FS title

By Vinay Siwach

ROME, Italy (July 31) -- James GREEN (USA) was part of the USA team which won the freestyle team title for the first time in 22 years at the 2017 World Championships. The two-time world medalist won a silver medal in that edition.

Five years later, Green got another chance to hold the team trophy, this time as the chief coach of the USA team at the U17 World Championships in Rome on Sunday.

USA won a historic first U17 freestyle world title in Rome with nine out of their 10 wrestlers winning medals including four golds. It finished with 190 points which was more than enough to exchange places with defending champions India which finished with 126 points.

Azerbaijan, a nation that won the European team title, finished third with 122 points.

USA became the fourth nation to win the U17 world freestyle title after Russia, Iran and India since the U17 Worlds were reinstated in 2011. Russia won the title every year until 2018 when Iran broke that streak.

Russia won again in 2019 before India became only the third country to win the title in 2021.

USAUSA coach James GREEN, center, with the team title trophy. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

"It feels like it's straight out of a movie," he said. "It's like a reminiscent of 2017 when I was part of the world team that won the title for the USA after 22 years."

After finishing with a gold, three silver and a bronze medal on day six, the USA rocked again on the final day with three gold and a bronze to close out the tournament.

"I know how these guys are feeling," he said. "I am so excited to win this on my first trip and looking forward to more coaching."

Since 2011, the USA finished in the second spot five times in nine U17 Worlds with the latest being to India at the previous edition. But this year, all the USA wrestlers won their head-to-heads against India which ultimately proved to be the difference between who became the champions.

"The draw kind of worked in our favor," Green said. "We definitely had a gameplan not just for India but for everyone else including the Europeans as well.  But I can tell you one thing that our wrestlers wanted to get a hand on Indian wrestlers because we lost to them last time."

Luke LILLEDAHL (USA)Luke LILLEDAHL (USA), blue, upgraded his '21 silver to gold. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Luke LILLEDAHL (USA) finished with a silver medal in 2021 after suffering a loss against Aman GULIA (IND) but there was no stopping Lilledahl this year as he upgraded to gold with a dominating 10-1 win over Mohammad Reza ASADI (IRI).

The 51kg final, pretty much controlled by Lilledahl, began with two exchanging stepout but then the USA wrestler switched levels after the break and scored takedowns whenever he found Asadi going for a half shot. He countered two of Asadi's attacks while he scored a takedown and added a leg lace in his 12-1 victory for the gold medal.

"Luke wrestlers at a hard pace," Green said. "He keeps a low head but is always moving and engaging. He takes the points as they come and doesn't rush into attacks."

Two other gold medalists for the USA on Sunday, Domenic MUNARETTO (USA) and Joseph SEALEY (USA), also impressed Green.

Munaretto won the 45kg gold medal by beating Bashir VERDIYEV (AZE), 2-0 in the final. Overall, the champion outscored his opponents 30-2 in the tournament.

Joseph SEALEY (USA)Joseph SEALEY (USA) outscored his opponents 55-1 in Rome. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

At 71kg, Sealey dashed local hopes to see a home champion by decimating Raul CASO (ITA), 12-0, in the gold medal bout.

Sealey, like his all other bouts, was wrestling at a completely different level and pace which Caso had no answer to. When Caso tried to engage in underhooks, he would get tripped by Sealey and when he tried to score a takedown, Sealey would easily stop any such attempts.

His two inside trips and two takedowns were enough to help Sealey win the crown and get some praise from coach Green.

"Sealey was very impressive," he said. "He wrestles like a senior athlete and can wrestle someone from that level. He conceded the least points in the whole tournament."

Sealey wrestled five bouts to win the gold and in an impressive record, scored 55 points and conceded only one.

Drawing experience from the title-winning run in 2017, Green had communicated to his team to 'have fun' during the tournament.

"I just told them that you are capable of being world champs and future Olympic champions," he said. "But more importantly I told them to have fun at this tournament. Most of these guys are wrestling for the first time and they can be hard on themselves so I didn't want that. And once we all met, they had the team chemistry and it clicked right away."

Ebrahim ELAHI (IRI)Ebrahim ELAHI (IRI), blue, pulled off a 5-4 win against Bilol SHARIP UULU (KGZ) in the 60kg final. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

The other gold medals of the night were shared between Iran and Kazakhstan.

At 60kg, Ebrahim ELAHI (IRI) defeated U17 Asian champion Bilol SHARIP UULU (KGZ), 5-4 to win the gold after trailing 3-1 at one point. Sharip Uulu scored the first points with a duck-under during the activity period against Elahi. It was initially awarded as four but Iran challenged the call and it was reversed to two points only.

But Elahi's constant moves towards Sharip Uulu's legs paid dividends as he leveled the score 3-3 and led on criteria. He then added a takedown against the tiring Kyrgyzstan wrestler to extend his lead to 5-3. He was warned for fleeing during the final 10 seconds which made the score 5-4 but did not change the result.

Elahi's gold was Iran's first of the tournament as it finished fifth in the team rankings.

Kamil KURUGLIYEV (KAZ)Kamil KURUGLIYEV (KAZ) won the 92kg gold, the second of the tournament for Kazakhstan. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Returning bronze medalist Kamil KURUGLIYEV (KAZ) went all the way this year and captured his maiden world title, a month after he had won the U17 Asian title.

Musza ARSUNKAEV (HUN) had no answers to Kurugliyev's style of wrestling, inspired by his former world bronze medalist father and cousin-brother, European champion Duaren KURUGLIEV (RWF).

After a 3-0 lead in the first period, Kurugliyev began the second with a huge double-leg for four and then added two takedowns to close out a statement win in Rome.

The World Championships season will now move to Sofia, Bulgaria with the U20 Worlds beginning August 15.




GOLD: Domenic MUNARETTO (USA) df. Bashir VERDIYEV (AZE), 2-0

BRONZE: Arman HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df. Amirmohammad NAVAZI (IRI), via fall
BRONZE: Nikoloz BOTCHORISHVILI (GEO) df. Constantin RUSU (MDA), 5-4

GOLD: Luke LILLEDAHL (USA) df. Mohammad Reza ASADI (IRI), 10-1

BRONZE: Nurdanat AITANOV (KAZ) df. Ben TARIK (MAR), 1-1

GOLD: Ebrahim ELAHI (IRI) df. Bilol SHARIP UULU (KGZ), 5-4

BRONZE: Taiga OGINO (JPN) df. Alessandro NINI (ITA), 3-1

GOLD: Joseph SEALEY (USA) df. Raul CASO (ITA), 12-0



BRONZE: Maxwell MCENELLY (USA) df. Sahil JAGLAN (IND), 2-1