Tunisia Tops Egypt, Wins African Freestyle Team Title

By Eric Olanowski

HAMMAMET, Tunisia (March 31) – Tunisia was one of three teams who entered into the final session of wrestling with a quartet of finalists, but their trio of gold medalists helped the host nation hoist the freestyle team trophy on the last day of wrestling in Hammamet’s Omni Sports Hall. 

Tunisia, who finished with 183 points, had three champions and seven overall medalists who assisted them in narrowly edging Egypt (180 points) by three points for the tournaments top spot. 

Ayoub BARRAJ (TUN) won his third consecutive African title with a win in the 79kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Their trio of champions were Ayoub BARRAJ, Sabri MNASRIYA, and Mohamed SAADAOUI. 

In the 79kg finals, two-time defending champion Ayoub Barraj dismantled Algeria’s Fateh BENFERDJALLAH, 10-0 and won his third consecutive title. 

Tunisia’s second freestyle title of the day went to Sabri Minasriya who hung on to defeat Oussama REGANI (MAR), 2-1, in the 86kg finals. Their third and final championship performance came at 92kg where Mohamed Saadaoui shutout Egypt’s defending African champion Hosam MERGHANY, 6-0.

Egypt finished in second place, thanks to their three champions, Amr HUSSEN,  Khaled ELMOATAMADAWI, and Khaled ABDALLA. 

At 70kg, returning silver medalist Amr Hussen trailed 1-0 after the opening period but ignited for eight second period points before planting 2018 African bronze medalist Fares LAKEL (ALG) on his back for the fall. 

Elmoatamadawi and Abdalla, the 97kg and 130kg winners respectively, went undefeated in their Nordic system tournaments, claiming Egypt’s second and third freestyle titles.

Abdelhak KHERBACHE won the 57kg gold medal and improved on his bronze-medal finish from a year ago. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Algeria’s Abdelhak KHERBACHE claimed the 57kg title and helped his nation finishing in third place with 117 points. Kherbache improved on his bronze medal finish a season ago, winning his first continental title with a 3-1 victory over Chakir ANSARI (MAR) in the 57kg gold-medal bout. 

Morocco, who had 117 points, and Nigeria, who had 90 points, rounded out the top-five of the freestyle team scores. 

The Final Three Golds 
The final three nations who had a solo gold-medal winner were Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Nigeria. 

Senegal’s Adama DIATTA claimed his fifth consecutive African Championship title and tenth overall continental gold medal with a 12-0 thumping of Egypt’s Yasser AHMED in the 61kg finals. 

In the 65kg finals, Guinea-Bissau’s Mbunde CUMBA MBALI easily claimed the gold medal with an 11-0 routing of Egypt’s Aly ABDELHAMID. 

Lastly, in the 74kg gold-medal bout, two-time defending champion Ogbonna JOHN (NGR) put together a seven-point second period that went unanswered and won his third consecutive African title with a 7-1 victory over Tunisia’s Maher GHANMI. 

What's Next?
The African Championships were the first senior-level continental championships of the year. The next continental championships are the European Championships, which begin April 8 in Bucharest, Romania. 

Freestyle Team Scores
GOLD – Tunisia (183 points)
SILVER – Egypt (180 points)
BRONZE – Algeria (117 points)
Fourth – Morocco (90 points)
Fifth – Nigeria (63 points)

GOLD -  Abdelhak KHERBACHE (ALG) df. Chakir ANSARI (MAR), 3-1 
BRONZE - Gamal Abdelnaser Hanafy MOHAMED (EGY) df. Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR), via inj. def. 

GOLD – Adama DIATTA (SEN) df. Yasser Eshhata Abady AHMED (EGY), 12-0 
BRONZE - Mohamed Al Amine LAKEL (ALG) df. Farouk JELASSI (TUN), 4-0 

GOLD – Mbunde CUMBA MBALI (GBS) df. Aly Ibrahim Abdelhamid ABDELHAMID (EGY), 13-0 
BRONZE - Kaireddine BEN TELILI (TUN) df. Chems BOUCHAIB (ALG), 16-6 

GOLD – Fares LAKEL (ALG) df. Amr Reda Ramadan HUSSEN (EGY), 8-3
BRONZE - Rabii REGANI (MAR) df. Haithem DAKHLAOUI (TUN), via fall 

GOLD – Ogbonna JOHN (NGR) df. Maher GHANMI (TUN), 8-1 
BRONZE - Saifeldin ELKOUMY (EGY) df. Essam ELHAG (SUD), via forfeit  
BRONZE - Augusto MIDANA (GBS) df. Kasimir MADJADOUM (CHA), 10-0 

GOLD – Ayoub BARRAJ (TUN) df. Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG), 10-0 
BRONZE - Aboubakr GADELMAWLA (EGY) df. Alberto da Silva GUNZA (ANG), 15-5 
BRONZE - Ekerekeme AGIOMOR (NGR) df. Zander GERINGER (RSA), 12-1 

GOLD – Sabri MNASRIYA (TUN) df. Oussama REGANI (MAR), 2-1
BRONZE - Melvin BIBO (NGR) df. Blaise DIATTA (SEN), via fall
BRONZE - Bedopassa BUASSAT DJONDE (GBS) df. Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA), 10-2 

GOLD – Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN) df. Hosam Mohamed Mostafa MERGHANY (EGY), 6-0 
BRONZE - Aron Isomi MBO (COD) df. Francisco Nkunga NGONDA (ANG), 18-4 
BRONZE - Mohammed FARDJ (ALG) df. Johan MOSTERT (RSA), 10-0 

97kg (Round Robin) 
GOLD –  Khaled Masoud Ismail ELMOATAMADAWI (EGY)
BRONZE – Mohamed Saliou CAMARA (GUI)

125kg (Round Robin) 
GOLD – Khaled Omr Zaki Mohamed ABDALLA (EGY)
SILVER – Abdelmoneim ADOULI (TUN)


Four repeat as African champs; Egypt wins title

By Vinay Siwach

HAMMAMET, Tunisia (May 20) -- Egypt had an exceptional end to the African Championships, with all 10 of its freestyle wrestlers winning medals on the tournament's final day.

With five gold, three silver, and two bronze medals, Egypt accumulated 215 points, securing the team title. Hosts Tunisia finished second with 173 points, while Algeria took third place with 129 points.

This performance marked an improvement from last year when Egypt only won four gold medals and finished with a total of 195 points. Notably, two of the gold medalists from 2022 successfully defended their titles on Saturday.

Amr HUSSEN (EGY) triumphed at 74kg, securing his third African title and second consecutive win by defeating Bacar NDUM (GBS) with a fall in the final match.

Starting the day with an 11-0 victory over Oyeinkeperemo BRAVEMAN (NGR), Hussen continued his winning streak by defeating last year's silver medalist, Abdelkader IKKAL (ALG), with a convincing 10-0 victory in the semifinals. He then secured the gold medal with the fall over Ndum, who was the 70kg gold medalist last year.

The second wrestler to repeat as champion was Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) who secured a narrow 3-2 victory over Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN) in the 97kg gold medal match.

Saadaoui, who won the bronze in 2022, received support from the home fans against Elders. After Saadaoui took a 1-0 lead due to Elders being called passive in the first period, Elders managed to regain the criteria lead of 1-1 when Saadaoui stepped out of the zone while evading an attack. However, Elders' lead was short-lived as he was called passive again, allowing Saadaoui to take a 2-1 lead with 50 seconds remaining.

Elders executed a double leg attack when Saadaoui was close to the zone, resulting in a pushout that put Elders back in the lead with a criteria score of 2-2. Saadaoui challenged the call for a headbutt, but the reviews confirmed it was clean, and Elders held on to secure a 3-2 victory.

Feeling disappointed by the close defeat, Saadaoui made an aggressive push on Elders after the bout, particularly since he had defeated Elders 9-5 in the morning session.

At 70kg, two bronze medalists from 2022, Said ELGAHSH (EGY) and Mohamed ZORGUI (TUN) faced off in the gold medal bout this year with the former emerging victorious with a score of 8-2.

Elgahsh began his day with an 8-4 win over Pieter ROETS (RSA) in the quarterfinals and followed it up with a 12-2 victory against Anthony WESLEY (CPV) in the semifinals.

Zorgui, on the other hand, began in the qualifications and secured a fall against Brian OLOO (KEN), followed by another fall in the quarterfinals against Rodgers MUKYEDA (UGA). He faced his first challenge in the semifinals but managed to narrowly defeat Sylvio DIATTA (SEN) with a score of 5-4.

Elgahsh gave little chance to Zorgui in the final and captured the gold with a resounding 8-2 win.

Ahmed MAHMOUD (EGY) won the gold medal at 79kg by stunning the defending champion Chems FETAIRIA (ALG) with a remarkable 11-0 win in the final.

Although Mahmoud easily overcame Fetaira, he was in deep trouble against Sofiane PADIOU BELMIR (MAR), eventually winning by a slim margin of 6-5.

At 125kg, two-time Olympian Diaaeldin ABDELMOTTALEB (EGY) defeated Hamza RAHMANI (TUN) twice on Saturday to win the gold medal, his fourth at the senior continental level. Abdelmottaleb posted a 10-0 win over Rahmani in the morning session and secured a fall in the gold medal bout at 125kg in the evening.

Tunisia, Algeria win two golds

The host nation, Tunisia, also had a reason to celebrate as it clinched two gold medals through Farouk JELASSI (TUN) and Imed KADDIDI (TUN).

Jelassi, who had never previously won a medal at the African Championships, surprised many by claiming gold in the 65kg category.

After achieving technical superiority in his first two bouts, Jelassi faced resistance from Frederik NORTJE (RSA), but it wasn't enough to prevent Jelassi from securing a 10-3 victory in the gold medal bout.

For Kaddidi, it was a significant breakthrough as he finally claimed the gold medal after two previous silver finishes, including one in 2022.

Competing in a Nelson bracket, Kaddidi wrestled four times and left no opportunity for his opponents to threaten him. He began with a fall over Dan CHEPTAI (KEN) in Round 1, followed by a dominant 10-0 win over Mahmoud IBRAHIM (EGY) in Round 2, a 9-1 victory over Machiel GROBLER (RSA) in Round 3, and an 11-0 thrashing of Wadii OUALAL (MAR) in Round 4.

Ibrahim emerged with the silver medal over Grobler after an astonishing 34-point bout. At the end of the six minutes, Ibrahim emerged victorious with a score of 22-12.

His two matches before the final also followed a similar script as Benferdjallah scored an 11-0 and a 13-3 win before entering the final against Elkoumy who won both his bouts via fall.

Benferdjallah did face resistance from Elkoumy but did not flinch under pressure and came out on top with an 8-4 scoreline.

Algeria also celebrated two gold medals as Abdelhak KHERBACHE (ALG) and Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) successfully defended their titles as African champions.

Kherbache made an impressive start in the 61kg category, securing a 14-3 victory over Yanisse MADI (COM) in the qualifications, followed by an 8-1 win against Shehabeldin MOHAMED (EGY) in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Kherbache continued his dominance with a commanding 14-2 triumph over Seitonkumo RICHARD (NGR).

In the gold medal bout, Kherbache faced Firas KHALIFA (TUN), who had shown exceptional form by winning his previous two matches via falls. However, Kherbache proved unstoppable, defeating Khalifa with a 6-3 scoreline to secure his fourth consecutive African gold medal. Kherbache's achievement also includes three silver medals and a bronze from previous tournaments dating back to 2015.

Tokyo Olympian Benferdjallah added another African gold medal to his career with a controlled 8-4 victory over Saifeldin ELKOUMY (EGY) in the 86kg weight class.

Leading up to the final, Benferdjallah's path followed a similar pattern, as he secured convincing wins with scores of 11-0 and 13-3. Elkoumy, his opponent in the final, had moved into the final by winning both of his previous bouts via fall.

Although Elkoumy provided strong resistance, Benferdjallah remained composed under pressure and emerged victorious with a final score of 8-4. This victory marked Benferdjallah's second African gold medal.

At 57kg, Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) won the gold medal after a thrilling final against defending champion Gamal MOHAMED (EGY) with a scoreline of 8-8.

Mohamed got the first advantage as Iuna Fafe was called passive in the first period and Mohamed got the 1-0 lead. But from that point on, he only chased Iuna Fafe. The lead switched hands when Iuna Fafe scored six minutes before the break to lead 6-1.

Iuna Fafe did give up penalty towards the end of the bout but he still led on criteria due to the big move in the first period and he held on for an 8-8 win.

This marked Iuna Fafe's first gold medal at the African Championships after the previous two occasions.



GOLD: Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) df. Gamal MOHAMED (EGY), 8-8


GOLD: Abdelhak KHERBACHE (ALG) df. Firas KHALIFA (TUN), 6-3

BRONZE: Yassine JAA (MAR) df. Kenneth KOECH (KEN), via fall
BRONZE: Shehabeldin MOHAMED (EGY) df. Seitonkumo RICHARD (NGR), 5-0

GOLD: Farouk JELASSI (TUN) df. Frederik NORTJE (RSA), 10-3

BRONZE: Omar MOURAD (EGY) df. Reginaldo da SILVA (ANG), 12-2
BRONZE: Zohier IFTENE (ALG) df. Derrick AJONGASAP (CMR), 10-0

GOLD: Said ELGAHSH (EGY) df. Mohamed ZORGUI (TUN), 8-2

BRONZE: Sylvio DIATTA (SEN) df. Brian OLOO (KEN), 13-2
BRONZE: Pieter ROETS (RSA) df. Anthony WESLEY (CPV), via fall

GOLD: Amr HUSSEN (EGY) df. Bacar NDUM (GBS), via fall

BRONZE: Abdelkader IKKAL (ALG) df. Oyeinkeperemo BRAVEMAN (NGR), 11-1
BRONZE: Yassine FARAJ (MAR) df. Arno VAN ZIJL (RSA), via inj. def. 

GOLD: Ahmed MAHMOUD (EGY) df. Chems FETAIRIA (ALG), 11-0

BRONZE: Ebikeme NEWLIFE (NGR) df. Kaireddine BEN TELILI (TUN), 11-3
BRONZE: Francisco KADIMA (ANG) df. Sofiane PADIOU BELMIR (MAR), 11-2 

GOLD: Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) df. Saifeldin ELKOUMY (EGY), 8-4

BRONZE: Edward LESSING (RSA) df. Sabri MNASRIA (TUN), 10-0


GOLD: Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) df. Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN), 3-2

BRONZE: Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) vs. Oussama ASSAD (MAR), 10-0

GOLD: Diaaeldin ABDELMOTTALEB (EGY) df. Hamza RAHMANI (TUN), via fall

BRONZE: Anas LAMKABBER (MAR) vs. Progress BENSON (NGR), 5-1