Team USA Sends Four Wrestlers to #WrestleBudapest Finals

By Vinay Siwach

BUDAPEST, Hungary (July 19) --- As soon as James MULLEN (USA) won his semifinal at 110kg, his USA teammate James ROWLEY (USA) began calculating the team scores. “That's 80 points,” he would shout to his team in the warm-up hall.

USA took a huge step towards the team title at the cadet World Championships which got underway in Budapest Monday as they entered four wrestlers in the five finals for Tuesday, the most for any country. India were the second best behind USA with two finalists while Russia, Iran, Georgia and Kazakhstan sending one each. Wrestlers from USA and India will meet in the two finals – 48kg and 80kg – on Tuesday.

That gives them a 30-point lead going into Tuesday which will see five more freestyle weight classes in action apart from the medal bouts of 48kg, 55kg, 65kg, 80kg and 110kg.

Two 15-year-olds made it to the final of 48kg in contrasting fashion as Pan Am champion Luke LILLEDAHL (USA) registered a thrilling win in the semifinals while Aman GULIA (IND) dominated his semifinal to win in a minute and five seconds.

Luke LILLEDHALE USALuke LILLEDAHL (USA) won his semifinal at 48kg 4-3. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Lilledahl, who trains in Missouri, will be looking to give himself an early birthday present, hopefully a gold, as he turn 16 years old in two weeks' time. He had a tough day in office as he began with a stunning 9-9 win over Akhmad MUSAKHADZHIEV (RUS) which saw USA challenge a call and winning it. He then handled Azim ABDYKALYKOV (KGZ) 8-1 before beating Nurdanat AITANOV (KAZ) 4-3 in the semifinals. He needed a late takedown with a double to win the bout.

Assessing his bouts, Lilledahl said he could have done better but he is now preparing for his final against India.

“[My wrestling was] not the best and I still have work to do,” Lilledahl said. “I am representing my country so I have to do my best no matter what. [For the final], just prepare mentally and watch some videos.”

Gulia went for a leg-lace to finish his opponent Rezo MARSAGISHVILI (GEO) 10-0 in the semifinal. In the morning session he had conceded only one point while scoring 14.

The Indian stayed back to watch Lilledahl's semifinal and observed a few things before the two meet in the final on Tuesday.

“He only shows false attack and dodges,” Gulia said. “I'll watch his videos from today and then prepare for final.”

UWW Photo

At 55kg, the weight class where USA did not have a finalist, saw Russia and Kazakhstan advance. Magomed BAITUKAEV (RUS) had a few slip ups in the semifinal against Abdullah TOPRAK (TUR) but eventually managed to win 10-6.

The wrestler from Chechnya was unfazed by the occasion of a World Championships final and said he will prepare for it as he does for any other bout.

His opponent, Abdinur NURLANBEK (KAZ) looked in the zone as he defeated Vaibhav PATIL (IND) 6-4 in the semifinals. Earlier in the day, he had defeated returing fifth-place and 2021 cadet European silver medalist Javi JAVIDOV (AZE) 10-0.

Nurlanbek challenged a takedown from Patil which had given Indian the lead. Kazakhstan won the challenge and kept off Patil's late attacks for the win.

Patil had earlier in the day ended the hopes for cadet European champion Andranik AVETISYAN (ARM) with a cradle pin despite the Armenian leading. He also pulled off a four-point throw in the dying seconds against Husanboy USMONOV (UZB). But his strategy did not work against the Kazak.

Meyer SHAPIRO USAMeyer SHAPIRO (USA) will wrestle in the 65kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Meyer SHAPIRO (USA) was the second USA wrestler to reach the final. Like Lilledahl, he had to go through a Russian wrestler to reach the final against Giorgi GOGRITCHIANI (GEO).

After a pin to start his day. Shapiro wrestled Khabib ZAVURBEKOV (RUS) and both exchanged attacks before Shapiro went for a final one. He managed to come out on top 8-6 but such was the intensity of the bout that he thought he had lost.

“My second match was super tough,” Shapiro said. “Definitely the best kid in the bracket. Honestly, anything could have happened in the end and I thought I lost because I could not see the score board. I was freaking out but turns out I had won. Later, I brought the pieces together and wrestled hard in the semifinals.”

He did not waste any time in the semifinal to handed a 10-0 defeat to Aghanazar NOVRUZOV (AZE).

Gogritchiani, who trains in Racha, had a contrasting semifinal as he defeated Ali REZAEIAGHOUZGELEH (IRI) 6-6 after a successful challenge to reclaim his lead in the final minute. Two points were awarded to Iran but Georgia challenged the call and instead, the two points were awarded to Gogritchiani. The Iran wrestler did get two stepouts but those were not enough for the win.

“I wrestled very well,” he said. “In the last match with the Iranian I was sure I won those two points in the challenge. In tomorrow’s final I’ll do my best to get the gold medal.”

When Shapiro was asked who he is going to prepare for the final, he said he wanted to relax.

“I am not really worried about that,” he said. “I will watch a film [of Gogritchiani] and whatever happens, happens.”

Another India-USA was set at 80kg as Rowley made his way to wrestle Sagar JAGLAN (IND), defeating a Russian wrestler on the way.

Sagar JAGLAN INDSagar JAGLAN (IND) pinned Tornike SAMKHARADZE (GEO) in the semifinal at 80kg. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Rowley was slow to start as he wrestled Mustafagadzhi MALACHDIBIROV (RUS) in the 1/8 finals. A late takedown was what gave him an 8-6 win. In the quarterfinals, he picked up pace and defeated cadet European champion Oleksandr MAMROSH (UKR) before getting a technical superiority win over Gabriele NICCOLINI (ITA) 12-2.

“It kept getting better [for me],” Rowley said. “ My first match was slow and second was a little better. In the third, I blew him out of water.

“For the final, I will get the mindset right and win.”

He will face Jaglan in the final who won three out of his four bouts after trailing initially. But that was just another example of the exceptional motor skills of Indian wrestlers, made popular by Bajrang PUNIA (IND).

In the semifinal against cadet European Championships semifinalist Tornike SAMKHARADZE (GEO), he was trailing 4-6 as the Georgian struggled to catch his breath. Jaglan managed to put him on his back and get the fall.

A similar story saw him beat Radomir STOYANOV (BUL) in opening round. The Indian was trailing 1-9 but rebounded against a panting Stoyanov to win 15-10. Then against Musza ARSUNKAEV (UWW), he took advantage of a tiring opponent to win 14-9. A 12-4 win against Sattarkhan ALLAHVERDILI (AZE) earned him a place in the semifinal.

At 110kg, Amirreza MASOUMI VALADI (IRI) has begun well to follow his father's footsteps at the super-heavyweight category. Son of World Championships silver medalist and Beijing Olympic fifth placer Fardin MASOUMI VALADI, Amirreza stormed into the final with a 5-1 win over cadet European champion Ilia ZHIBALOV (RUS).

“Before coming here, I trained two months for this competition and I had great bouts,” Masoumi Valadi said.

He will face Pan-Am champion James MULLEN (USA) in the final. Mullen defeated Alikhan KUSSAINOV (KAZ) 7-1 in the semifinal.

Amirreza Fardin MASOUMI VALADI (IRI)Amirreza MASOUMI VALADI (IRI) will wrestle for gold at 110kg (Photo: UWW)



SF 2: Luke LILLEDAHL (USA) df Nurdanat AITANOV (KAZ), 4-3


SF 1: Magomed BAITUKAEV (RUS) df Abdullah TOPRAK (TUR), 10-6
SF 2: Abdinur NURLANBEK (KAZ) df Vaibhav PATIL (IND), 6-4


SF 2: Meyer SHAPIRO (USA) df Aghanazar NOVRUZOV (AZE), 10-0


SF 1: Sagar JAGLAN (IND) df Tornike SAMKHARADZE (GEO), via fall
SF 2: James ROWLEY (USA) df Gabriele NICCOLINI (ITA), 12-2


SF 1: Amirreza MASOUMI VALADI (IRI) df Ilia ZHIBALOV (RUS), 5-1
SF 2: James MULLEN (USA) df Alikhan KUSSAINOV (KAZ), 7-1


Georgia Claim #WrestleBudapest GR Title Despite Two Kyrgyzstan Gold

By Vinay Siwach

BUDAPEST, Hungary (July 25) --- Just like the freestyle and women's wrestling in Budapest, a new nation claimed the Greco-Roman team title for the first time. Georgia, which claimed two bronze medals on the final day of the cadet World Championships, won their first-ever team title in the history of the tournament.

The country did not have any finalists Sunday but it finished with two gold, a silver and three bronze medals to register with 141 points, the most among all the participants.

India had claimed their first-ever freestyle team title on Wednesday while USA won the women's team title on Friday, the first for them as well in the history of the tournament.

Ukraine finished in second position in Greco-Roman with two gold, two silver and a bronze medal, giving them 127 points. Defending champions Russia were third with 124 points that accumulated via two gold, two silver and a bronze medal.

Nuristan SUIORKULOV (KGZ)Nuristan SUIORKULOV (KGZ) won the gold at 51kg in Budapest. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Though they finished fourth in the team title race, Kyrgyzstan won two gold medals Sunday as Nuristan SUIORKULOV (KGZ) and Razzak BEISHEKEEV (KGZ) won their weight classes.

Suiorkulov denied Yurii TOVT (UKR) the gold medal at 51kg as he won 3-1. This is the first time in five years that a Kyrgyzstan wrestler won the cadet Worlds. Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) had achieved this feat in 2016, becoming the second only for the country.

"I am so glad to become the world champion," Suiorkulov said. "I wasn't worried during they day. I thought I was going to win the match."

Tovt was warned for passivity in the first period which gave Suiorkulov the lead and he scored two more points from the par-terre position to lead 3-0 at the break. Suiorkulov, who was also at the 2019 Worlds, was also penalized for being passive but he defended the par-terre position and the lead to claim the gold medal 3-1.

"Since my World Championship in 2019, I was preparing well," he said. "We had some tough days. During the COVID, I kept training at home."

Asked how he took up the sport of wrestling, he said that his friends made him do wrestling but he has emerged to be the most successful one. "My friends made me start my wrestling training as we were going to the gym together," he said. "Thanks you, my friends! None of them achieve such results in wrestling though."

Razzak BEISHEKEEV (KGZ)Razzak BEISHEKEEV (KGZ) celebrates after winning the 60kg world title in Budapest. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

At 60kg, Beishekeev overcame Seyyedmostafa REZAEI DARYAKENARI (IRI) 4-1 in the final with ease. While it was the Iranian who led at the break 1-0 but Beishekeev scored four points in the second period for the win.

Rezaei Daryakenari was awarded the point for Beishekeev's passivity but failed to capitalize from the position. In the second period, the Iranian was called passive giving Beishekeev a 1-1 criteria lead. In the par terre position, Rezaei Daryakenari was called for fleeing and cautioned, added two more points to Beishekeev's score.

Iran challenged the call but the judges upheld the referee's decision. The added point for lost challenge made the score 4-1 for Beishekeev's score which remained till the clock expired. 

Another Iran wrestler was denied the gold medal as Alexandru SOLOVEI (MDA) defeated Alireza ABDEVALI (IRI) 2-1 at the 71kg final. Solovei was leading on criteria 1-1 but was struggling to match the pace of Abdevali in the final few seconds.

Abdevali tried to score via stepout in the final three seconds but was not awarded by the referee. Iran coaches challenged the call, claiming there was a clear stepout but the judge withheld the referee's call after the replay, giving the Moldovan wrestler the win.

Alexandru SOLOVEI (MDA)Alexandru SOLOVEI (MDA) is the world champion at 71kg. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

"Last time I lost to an Iran wrestler, but this time I was confident," Solovei said referring to his loss to Hojat REZAEI (IRI) at the 2019 cadet Worlds. "It's important to wrestle till the last second. Today I got the revenge. I am very happy to get the medal. I hope next year I'll get only the medals like this one."

Solovei has been training in wrestling for the last 10 years and aims to become the Olympic champion one day. "My father was a wrestler as well. He brought me to the sport when I was seven years old. Now I am training in the Olympic village and my biggest dream is to become an Olympic champion. Every day I am thinking only about that."

At 45kg, Ukraine added another gold after the one Saturday with cadet European silver medalist Nikita DEMENTIEV (UKR) denying Ozodbek KHALIMBOEV (UZB) at the 45kg weight. He snatched a close 2-1 win after scored a step out in the second period.

He was awarded passivity and led 1-0 but he failed to take advantage of the par terre position. In the seconds period, he scored a stepout with a minute and 18 seconds remaining to extend the lead to 2-0. Khalimboev was awarded point for Dementiev passivity with 34 seconds remaining. It was his chance to reverse the match but he failed to score any points on the par terre position.

Nikita DEMENTIEV (UKR)Nikita DEMENTIEV (UKR) celebrates after winning the 45kg gold medal. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

"I have been waiting for that belt and for this medal for so long." Dementiev said. "After the unsuccessful European Championships where I got the silver medal, I really wanted to become a champion."

Dementiev won the gold medal for Ukraine and said that while preparing for the final, he was trying to remain positive.

"I was thinking about how to make my parents and my coaches happy," he said. "I wanted to prove myself that I can win. My final match was a bit tough, but we made it. When I was in school, there were wrestling classes and I just decided to give it a try. Little be little I started training and now it's been 6 years."

It could have been two for them and the team title but 2021 cadet European champion Vladyslav LUB (UKR) suffered a shock defeat to cadet Euros bronze medalist Abubakar KHASLAKHANAU (BLR).

Abubakar KHASLAKHANAU (BLR)Abubakar KHASLAKHANAU (BLR) avenged his cadet European loss to Vladyslav LUB (UKR) at the cadet Worlds on Sunday. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Lub's strategy for the 92kg final backfired when he was awarded the passivity in the first period. He thought he would be able to score from the par terre position but Khaslakhanau's defense proved to be too much.

On the other hand, the Belarusian scored a throw for two points from the par terre in the second period to avenge his loss from the cadet European tournament just a couple of months back.

"We have been working so hard to get this medal," Khaslakhanau, who began wrestling when he was in fifth grade, said. "But it's definitely worth it. I can't even describe my emotions, but believe me it's worth it."

In his preparation for the final, the Belarussian took some motivation from the ongoing Olympics in Tokyo to keep his mind off the match.

"I tried not to think about the match," he said. "We we walking and laughing together with the coach, we were watching the Olympics on TV. Then I just came here, and did what I was supposed to do."

Next week, he will cheering for the Belarus wrestling team as wrestling at Tokyo Olympics, which are already underway, begins from August 1. 

The cadet World Championships were the first Worlds to be held after 623 days, owing to the global health pandemic. Incidentally, the last World Championships – U23 – were also held in Budapest.

RESULTS GR Medal Bouts



GOLD: Nuristan SUIORKULOV (KGZ) df Yurii TOVT (UKR), 3-1



BRONZE: SUMIT (IND) df Bagdat SABAZ (KAZ), 8-0

GOLD: Alexandru SOLOVEI (MDA) df Alireza ABDEVALI (IRI), 2-1

BRONZE: Dimitar RACHEV (BUL) df Islam YEVLOYEV (KAZ), 9-0

GOLD: Abubakar KHASLAKHANAU (BLR) df Vladyslav LUB (UKR), 3-1