Tasmuradov Puts Aside Pain, Korean Opponent to Chalk up 5th Asian Gold

By Ken Marantz

NEW DELHI (Feb. 18)---How tough is Olympic bronze medalist Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB)? He just won a fifth gold medal at the Asian Championships two weeks after breaking a rib.

“It’s still healing,” Tasmuradov said after demolishing SONG Jinseub (KOR) in the Greco-Roman 63kg final on the opening day of this year’s continental tournament Tuesday in New Delhi. “I wanted to go for a fall so that I wouldn’t have to do the par terre.”

In other finals, Kumar SUNIL (IND) gave the host nation its first Asian Greco-Roman gold in 27 years, while a pair of recent world junior champions gave Iran victories in two of the three other gold-medal matches.

In regaining the Asian crown he last won in 2018, Tasmuradov wasn’t able to secure a fall, but got the next best thing, scoring a 9-0 technical fall in 1:33 that included a big 4-point lift and gave him an eighth career Asian medal overall.

Tasmuradov was back at his regular weight at 63kg , where he said he felt more “comfortable,” after qualifying for this year’s Tokyo Olympics at 60kg by placing fifth at last year’s World Championships in Nur-Sultan. 

The 2018 world silver medalist said missing out on a medal in Nur-Sultan was irrelevant, given that he achieved what he had set out to do.

“I planned to go and just qualify for Tokyo,” he said. “I didn’t aim to take a medal, because I’m not a young wrestler. So I went to just qualify and I did it.”

Asked to comment on earning his fifth Asian gold in the Indian capital, site of his first title in 2013 with a last-second win over Abdol PAPI (IRI), he replied, “I don’t feel anything,” he said. “My mind is just on the Tokyo Olympics.”

Tasmuradov lost a shot at winning his fifth title last May in Xi’an, China, when he suffered a severe back injury and had to default in the final to TUO Erbatu (CHN). The fact that he continued to wrestle until the pain became so intense he had to be helped off the mat showed the tenacity that has made him so successful – and allows him to shrug off a mere broken rib. 

Kumar SUNIL (IND) tosses Azat SALIDINOV (KGZ) in the 87kg gold-medal match. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Meanwhile, Sunil, a silver medalist at Xi’an 2019, showed an effective combination of stamina and power in handily defeating Azat SALIDINOV (KGZ) 5-0 in the 87kg final. 

That gave India its first Greco gold since Yadav POPPU (IND) won at 48kg in 1993 in Hiroshima, a drought of which Sunil was unaware until told about it just before the final. 

“I didn’t know about the record,” he said. “India had not the gold medal in 27 years. I got to know about it only before the final and it motivated me a lot.”

In the final, Sunil gained a passivity point and converted the par terre advantage into a 3-0 lead with a roll in the first period. In the second, he kept the pressure on and forced two stepouts to secure the victory.

“I have wrestled him in the junior category before,” Sunil said of Salidinov.. “So I was confident of beating him again. He is not strong in the upper body. So it was great to win the final.”

For Sunil, who finished second at the Matteo Pellicone ranking event in January, the bigger accomplishment came in the semifinals in the afternoon session, when he came back from an 8-1 deficit to defeat Azamat KUSTUBAYEV (KAZ) 12-8 – just as he did in the 2019 semifinals. 

“The semifinal was the toughest bout for me,” Sunil said. “I was trailing against him at the last Asian Championships as well, but I beat him. Now I beat him here, but this win is sweeter because I was trailing 1-8 here.”

Pouya NASERPOUR (IRI) cruised past Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB) in the 55kg finals with an 8-0 victory. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In the 55kg final, 2018 world junior champion Pouya NASERPOUR (IRI) rolled to an 8-0 technical fall over Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB), just hours after he nearly fainted from exhaustion at the conclusion of a wild semifinal victory. 

The team doctor said Naserpour suffered from low blood sugar after rallying from 7-1 down to beat Arjun HALAKURKI (IND) 7-7 in the semifinals. But after ingesting electrolytes from sports drinks, eating lunch and resting, Naserpour was able to recover in time for the final.

Naserpour used counter wrestling to score takedowns in both periods. After the second, he put together two gut-wrench rolls to end the match at 4:16.

“In the final, my body felt very good,” Naserpour said. “I trained very hard for six months and I’m happy to win the gold.”

Amin MIRZAZADEH (IRI) defeated 2018 world bronze medalist KIM Minseok (KOR) 9-0 in the 130kg gold medal match. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Amin MIRZAZADEH (IRI), also a world junior champion in 2018, kept the 130kg title in Iranian hands for the fifth consecutive year after overwhelming 2018 world bronze medalist KIM Minseok (KOR) by 9-0 technical fall.

Mirzazedeh put together three rolls from the par terre position, then ended the match at 2:02 with a snap-down takedown.

Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) prevented a trifecta of Iranian golds when he captured the 77kg tile with a 10-1 technical fall of world military champion Pejman POSHTAM (IRI).

Shadukayev, a bronze medalist at Xi’an 2019, moved to the top step of the podium when a takedown gave him the decisive points to end the match with 10 seconds left in the first period.

“Last year, I won the bronze medal, so I was sad,” Shadukayev said. “Now, I won the gold medal, so I’m very happy. It’s a big thing for me.”

In the bronze-medal matches, Shadukayev’s brother Mansur gave the family more hardware when he defeated Arata SONODA (JPN) by 9-1 technical fall at 130kg, one of three bronzes won by Kazakhstan.

Khorlan ZHAKANSHA (KAZ) finished third for the second year in a row at 55kg, while Kustubayev shook off his loss to Sunil to take home a bronze at 87kg. Halakurki won the other bronze at 55kg.

Iraq earned the 14th Asian medal in its history and first since 2018 when Hussein ALBIDHAN (IRQ) defeated Sultan Ali EID (JOR) by 12-4 technical fall at 77kg. Eid was aiming to become just the fourth Jordanian to win an Asian medal. 

Kyrgyzstan captured a pair of bronzes from Renat ILIAZ UULU (KGZ) at 77kg and Roman KIM (KGZ) at 130 kg, while the 63kg bronzes went to Mubinjon AKHMEDOV (TJK) and world U-23 champion Meysam DALKHANI (IRI).

In an unusual twist, there was only one bronze at 87kg. Losing semifinalist Behrooz HEDAYAT (IRI) suffered a bad ankle sprain and could not appear in the consolation match, but there was no opponent to face anyway as both of the other wrestlers in the repechage bracket defaulted due to injury.

Day 1 Finals


55kg (9 entries)
GOLD - Pouya NASERPOUR (IRI) df. Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB) by TF, 8-0, 4:16
BRONZE – Arjun HALAKURKI (IND) df. WON Donghyeok (KOR), 7-4
BRONZE – Khorlan ZHAKANSHA (KAZ) df. Sahatsawat PHUANGKAEO (THA) by TF, 10-1, 1:46 

63kg (10 entries)
GOLD - Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) df. SONG Jinseub (KOR) by TF, 9-0, 1:33 
BRONZE – Mubinjon AKHMEDOV (TJK) df. Mohammad ALAJMI (KUW) by Fall, 1:50 (7-2)

77kg (13 entries)
GOLD - Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) df. Pejman POSHTAM (IRI) by TF, 10-1, 2:50
BRONZE – Hussein ALBIDHAN (IRQ) df. Sultan Ali EID (JOR) by TF, 12-4, 5:10
BRONZE – Renat ILIAZ UULU (KGZ) df. Bekhzod UMAROV (UZB), 5-0

87kg (9 entries)
GOLD - Kumar SUNIL (IND) df. Azat SALIDINOV (KGZ), 5-0
BRONZE – Azamat KUSTUBAYEV (KAZ) df. Takahiro TSURUDA (JPN), 3-1 
(Only one bronze due to injury defaults)

130kg (8 entries)
GOLD - Amin MIRZAZADEH (IRI) df. KIM Minseok (KOR) by TF, 9-0, 2:02 
BRONZE – Roman KIM (KGZ) df. Singh MEHAR (IND), 3-2
BRONZE – Mansur SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) df. Arata SONODA (JPN) by TF, 9-1, 4:10 


Kaisanov Caps Eventful Week by Repeating as Asian 74kg Champ

By Ken Marantz

NEW DELHI (Feb. 23)—It’s been a good week for Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ). Five days after he was upgraded to the world bronze medal that he felt should have been his all along, he clinched a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics by successfully defending his freestyle 74kg title at the Asian Championships.

Kaisanov edged local favorite Jitender JITENDER (IND) 3-1 in the final as Kazakhstan captured two of the remaining five gold medals at stake on the final day of action at New Delhi’s K.D. Jadhav Wrestling Stadium.

“I believed I could win the Asian championship a second time,” Kaisanov said. “This gold medal was very important to me.”

It’s value was enhanced because the Kazakhstan federation informed him that a gold medal in New Delhi would automatically clinch the Olympic spot that he earned at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan, where he lost a contentious bronze-medal match to Zelimkhan KHADJIEV (FRA). 

A loss and he would have had to enter a playoff for the ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. Even though he recently suffered a knee injury, the incentive of sewing up the place in New Delhi led him to make the decision to participate. 

“I participated because it was part of the Kazakhstan process for qualifying for the Olympic Games,” he said. “I had to win.”

Kaisanov had faced Jitender last month at the Matteo Pellicone ranking series event in Rome, handily winning 9-2 in a repechage match before winning a bronze.

“One month ago I beat him with a big score [in Rome],” Naisanov said. “But this match was different because he was at home in front of his fans. It was mentally different, that’s why it was difficult.”

In the final, Kaisanov was on the clock when he scored with an exposure off a counter, before Jitender gained a stepout point. In the second period, Naisanov gained an insurance point with a stepout and held on for the win.

The victory came after UWW announced that Khadiev had failed a doping test, which moved Naisanov up to the world bronze. Khadiev had won their third-place match 4-3, but there was contention whether a late stepout by Naisanov should have been scored a takedown.

“I am very happy because after the World Championships I was so sad because I thought I won that match,” Naisanov said. “The referees made some mistakes. When I first heard the news of the doping by the French wrestler, I waited for the official news. I am so very happy. “

In other finals, world U-23 champion Ulubek ZHOLDOSHBEKOV (KGZ) picked up his first senior Asia gold after winning bronzes in 2016 and 2018 when he decked Muhammad IKROMOV (TJK) in 2:44.

Zholdoshbekov, who had an eye poked in his opening match by an Iranian foe that bothered him throughout the day, scored a stepout while on the activity clock, then stuffed an arm drag attempt to put Ikromov into a headlock and secure the fall.

“All of the wrestlers want to take the gold in tournaments,” Zholdoshbekov said of gaining the elusive gold. “I worked very hard and I’m very happy.”

Ikromov was denied in his bid to become just the second Tajikstan wrestler in history to win an Asian gold. The only other came in 2003.

Zholdoshbekov said he will drop down to 57kg for the Asian Olympic qualifier to be held in his home country next month.

Shutaro YAMADA (JPN) defeated Ahmad BAZRIGHALEH (IRI), 10-10 in the 86kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

The biggest surprise of the evening came in the 86kg final, in which unheralded Shutaro YAMADA (JPN) uncorked a pair of 4-point throws and held on to defeat 2019 Asian U-23 champion Ahmad BAZRIGHALEH (IRI) 10-10 on big-point criteria.

Yamada was third at the Japan Championships, but got the chance to make his international senior debut as national champ Sosuke TAKATANI (JPN) will enter the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament. 

“The chance came to me and to be honest, I thought I wouldn’t win a medal, much less the championship,” said Yamada, who knocked off world silver medalist Deepak PUNIA (IND) in the semifinals. “To get the gold, I’m extremely happy.

“After the semifinal, I went back to the hotel and looked at videos of my opponent in the final. He had high finishes in various tournaments. He’s a strong wrestler. This time, more than skills, I won with guts and patience.”

Bazrighaleh took a 3-0 lead on a takedown and stepout, before Yamada cut the lead with a nifty back trip for a takedown. But the Iranian added another stepout and a takedown to go ahead 6-2 heading into the second period.

That’s when Yamada put to good use his occasional training in Greco, as he locked up Bazrighaleh and executed a picture-perfect lateral drop, not once but twice. That put him up 10-6, and a takedown and 2-point counter were not enough to give Bazrighaleh the win.

“When I was in high school and sometimes in college, I entered Greco competitions,” said Yamada, a second-year student at powerhouse Yamanashi Gakuin University. “We often practice Greco style. Even though the styles are different, I’m glad I didn’t just limit myself to freestyle. 

“I used it in situations where I was both winning and losing. I just had to give it a shot and see what happens.”

Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) crushed Takuma OTSU (JPN),11-0, and claimed the 92kg gold medal. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Another final that featured a clash between Iran and Japan went the Middle East nation’s way, as Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) stormed to an 11-0 technical fall of Takuma OTSU (JPN) for the 92kg gold. 

That helped Iran capture the team title with 168 points, just 9 ahead of host India in second. Kazakhstan finished third with 146 points, 6 ahead of Japan.

Ironically, had Yamanashi Gakuin University entered the team competition on its own, it would have placed sixth with 100 points. The school located 120 kilometers west of Tokyo in Kofu city got gold medals from Yamada and Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) at 65kg, a silver from Otsu, and bronzes from Ryuto SAKAKI (JPN) at 61kg and alumnus Yuki TAKAHASHI (JPN) at 57kg.

“We expected at least third places from the lower weights,” Yamanashi coach Kunihiko OBATA said. “The guys in the upper weights far exceeded our expectations. It’s a good experience and gives them confidence.”

The final gold of the night went to world U-23 bronze medalist Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ), who executed three gut wreches in dominating Khuderbulga DORJKHAND (MGL) for a 10-0 technical fall in 1:32.

In the bronze-medal matches, host India’s two world medalists came away with hardware, as Rahul AWARE (IND) topped Majid DASTAN (IRI) 5-2 at 57kg and Punia rolled to a 10-0 technical fall of Issa AL OBAIDI (IRQ) at 86kg.

Japan and Iran had two bronze medalists each, while Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Korea had one each.

Daichi TAKATANI (JPN), a silver medalist at both the Asian Championships and Asian Games in 2018 at 65kg, picked up a bronze medal in his debut at the next Olympic weight of 74kg with a 15-4 technical fall of Karam MAHMOOD (IRQ).

Takatani had unsuccessfully tried to dislodge 2018 world champion Otoguro at 65kg in the battle to make Japan’s Olympic team, then made the drastic jump up two weight classes to 74kg. He came up short of grabbing the Tokyo 2020 spot, but his second place at the Japan Championships earned him a ticket to New Delhi.

While conceding little in terms of technique, Takatani still feels the gap in size, and allowed Mahmood to pull off a 4-point counter to start their bronze-medal match. But his superior skills came to the forefront and he piled up the points before finishing the match in 5:28.

Day 6 Results


61kg (13 entries)
GOLD – Ulubek ZHOLDOSHBEKOV (KGZ) df. Muhammad IKROMOV (TJK) by Fall, 2:44 (3-0)
BRONZE – Ryuto SAKAKI (JPN) df. YUN Jihoon (KOR), 4-2
BRONZE – Rahul AWARE (IND) df. Majid DASTAN (IRI), 5-2

74kg (12 entries)
GOLD – Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) df. Jitender JITENDER (IND), 3-1
BRONZE – Daichi TAKATANI (JPN) df. Karam MAHMOOD (IRQ) by TF, 15-4, 5:28
BRONZE – Mostafa HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) df. Sumiyabazar ZANDANBUD (MGL), 5-0 

86kg (9 entries)
GOLD – Shutaro YAMADA (JPN) df. Ahmad BAZRIGHALEH (IRI), 10-10 
BRONZE – Deepak PUNIA (IND) df. Issa AL OBAIDI (IRQ) by TF, 10-0, 2:43

92kg (8 entries)
GOLD – Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) df. Takuma OTSU (JPN) by TF, 11-0, 5:31 
BRONZE – Tsogtgerel MUNKHBAATAR (MGL) df. Chyngyz KERIMULOV (KGZ) by TF, 11-1, 4:30
BRONZE – Iliskhan CHILAYEV (KAZ) df. Ajiniyaz SAPARNIYAZOV (UZB), 4-4

125kg (12 entries)
GOLD – Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ) df. Khuderbulga DORJKHAND (MGL) by TF, 10-0, 1:32
BRONZE – NAM Koungjin (KOR) df. Zaman ANWAR (PAK) by TF, 10-0, 3:23
BRONZE – Parviz HADIBASMANJ (IRI) df. Farkhod ANAKULOV (TJK) by TF, 10-0, 2:04