Shakalova returns as double champion, Toth shines at Grappling Worlds

By Vinay Siwach

PONTEVEDRA, Spain (October 17) -- The warm-up hall at Municipal Pavillion in Pontevedra is an emotional setting. At the end of the Grappling World Championships by United World Wrestling, grapplers from around the world are bidding goodbyes to their friends, rivals and coaches.

It's a room full of athletes that are skilled in various forms of combat sports coming together to grapple on the mat and be the world champion. A few are mixed martial arts fights, some are skilled at various forms of grappling and a few are equally good at both.

Among them is Kateryna SHAKALOVA (UKR) who is being congratulated by almost everyone around. She also gets some requests for selfies.

Shakalova won the gold medals in 71kg at both Grappling and Grappling Gi, a version in which athletes wrestle wearing a loose uniform used in almost all combat sports with a belt around the waist.

It was not the first time that Shakalova won two gold medals in the same tournament. She achieved the same feat in 2017 in Baku at the same tournament. Shakalova was extremely pleased that she was able to repeat after a gap of five years.

In the 71kg final, she got a 6-3 win over Giulia RODIO (ITA) with two setpouts before Radio pulled the guard to be penalized two more points. In the second period, Shakalova scored a takedown but also gave up two points for stalling while being on top. But with her experience, she secured the win.
For the first time, Shakalova was happy with off the mat facilities.

"I really liked the tournament," Shakalova said. "I want to say that I've been grappling for quite a long time, but it's the first time when I saw such a great organization of the World Championships. The food was great, usually, we have just bread, some unnecessary carbohydrates, but this time the meals were really good."

The 25-year-old has been in wrestling for 13 years now. But in the recent past, she has transformed herself into a mixed martial arts athlete with a 7-1 record. But even then, she has never stopped grappling since it helps her outperform her rivals.

"I had been grappling for about six years and then I took up MMA," she said. "Though my priority is MMA, grappling is just a hobby but I can say that grappling is an ideal kind of wrestling for MMA."

And with that in mind, she aims for the big league. "My main goal is to be signed for a good MMA promotion, this will help to promote grappling as there hasn't been a UWW grappler in that."

Although the two gold medals have brought smiles to Shakalova, she does not celebrate much as she remembers her hometown -- Kharkiv -- and the fact that she last saw her family six years ago.

Growing up in Donetsk, the Ukrainian never thought she will not have a home to go to, first in 2014 and then in 2022.

"My home in Kharkiv has been destroyed," she said. "I have been in Dusseldorf in Germany for more than a year now. My parents are stuck in Donetsk."

Shakalova fondly remembers the Pankaration tournament in Kharkiv last year which she won.

"I won it. In my home. I don't have a home now."

Alexa TOTH (HUN)Alexa TOTH (HUN) won two gold medals in Pontevedra. (Photo: United World Wrestling)

Ukraine finished second in both women's Grappling and Grappling Gi with Poland winning the Gi and Germany topping the Grappling style.

Among all the stars was a young one from Hungary. Alexa TOTH (HUN), 18, was the second double champion in Pontevedra as she thrashed opponents much senior to her.

"When I came, I did not expect to win it," Toth said. "As I am just 18 years old, winning the adult category is amazing."

Toth, a U17 world champion last year, has also won a silver and bronze at the European Championships as well.

"It's always great when I am on the mat. I like the idea when can be strong as a girl," she said.

Toth, who is still in school, has to find a balance between grappling and studies as she has to pass her exams later this year.

"It's really hard," Toth said. "The solution is to not sleep and do both. It happened to me as I came here instead of my exam. I have to write when I go back home. So it's going to be long nights."


Women's Grappling Gi


BRONZE: Martyna IWAT (POL) df. Botakoz YELDOSKYZY (KAZ), 4-2
BRONZE: Naiomi MATTHEWS (ESP) df. Tetiana ASTAKHOVA (UKR), 7-2 

GOLD: Alexa TOTH (HUN) df. Breanna STIKKELMAN (USA), 11-2

BRONZE: Adrianna WOJARSKA (POL) df. Minerva MONTERO (ESP), via submission

GOLD: Joanna ZABULEWICZ (POL) df. Antonia KANEW (GER), 6-5

BRONZE: Viktoriia SYNIAVINA (UKR) df. Aigul SAMAT (KAZ), 5-0

GOLD: Kateryna SHAKALOVA (UKR) df. Giulia RODIO (ITA), 6-3

BRONZE: MERYXELL GONZALEZ (ESP) df. Aizhan ABDYKADYR (KAZ), via submission (2-2)
BRONZE: Emily GUENZLER (GER) df. Christina HANSEN (USA), via submission (0-6) 


BRONZE: Magdalena ZASZCZUDLOWICZ (POL) df. Aikorkem IKHSANOVA (KAZ), via walkover
BRONZE: Darina GOLDIN (GER) df. Teara LEWIS (USA), via walkover

Women's Grappling


BRONZE: Naiomi MATTHEWS (ESP) df. Martyna IWAT (POL), 2-0

Alexa TOTH (HUN) df. Melissa BENEDINI (ITA), 13-0

BRONZE: Laila OHLHOFF (GER) df. Jazmin ARJONA (ESP), via submission (7-3)
BRONZE: Aizhan ISMAGULOVA (KAZ) df. Adrianna WOJARSKA (POL), 4-1

GOLD: Anna CASTELLS (ESP) df. Antonia KANEW (GER), via submission (2-2)

BRONZE: Florika LUCHYCH (UKR) df. Kristi RUSSELL (USA), via walkover
BRONZE: Sandra PNIAK (POL) df. Olena HERMAN (UKR), 5-3

GOLD: Kateryna SHAKALOVA (UKR) df. Alycia QUENEE (FRA), 11-5

BRONZE: Christina HANSEN (USA) df. Aizhan ABDYKADYR (KAZ), via submission (12-0)
BRONZE: Giulia RODIO (ITA) df. Giada CHIOSO (ITA), via submission

GOLD: Darina GOLDIN (GER) df. Olena SUSHKO (UKR), via submission (2-2)

BRONZE: Magdalena ZASZCZUDLOWICZ (POL) df. Aikorkem IKHSANOVA (KAZ), via submission (6-0)
BRONZE: Tara WHITE (USA) df. Teara LEWIS (USA), via walkover


Warsaw to host 2023 Grappling World Championships

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY (Switzerland) -- The 2023 Grappling World Championships will be held in Warsaw, Poland.

The United World Wrestling awarded the tournament to the Poland capital which will host it from August 21 to 24 after the wrestling U20 World Championships which runs from August 14 to 20.

Grappling is one of UWW's fastest-growing styles, with events and participation numbers growing each year. The 2022 edition in Pontevedra, Spain saw grapplers from more than 30 countries.

It is one of the top events on the calendar for combat sports and will host grapplers from around the world.

In Warsaw, grapplers from the U17 and U20 will also be on the mat with an eye on the medals. The competition will begin with the U17 World Championships before moving to the U20 age group and ending with the senior World Championships.

The first Grappling competition for the year will be the European Championships which will be held in Bucharest, Romania on March 11 and 12. This will precede the U23 European Championships to be held in the Romanian capital.

Grappling, formerly organized by UWW’s Associated Styles office in Istanbul, Turkey, has been brought back to UWW Headquarters in Switzerland with hopes of progressing the sport to the next level.

For the full list of events on the Grappling calendar and all other styles can be accessed at uww.org/events.