Weight-to-Watch: Women’s Wrestling 57kg

By Eric Olanowski

WARSAW, Poland (June 2) --- Olympic champion Helen MAROULIS (USA) headlines the loaded 17-woman 57kg bracket at next week’s Poland Open. In total, the weight will feature two Olympic medalists, five world medal winners, and seven continental champions.  

Earlier this year, during her appearance on UWW LIVE, Maroulis shared her mentality and desire to compete against the best, saying, “I don’t just want the medal for the sake of the medal. I want it to be the toughest competition. The point of being the best is you want to know that you beat everyone that you think is incredible.”

Next week, Maroulis will have that opportunity to lace up her boots against the world’s best at 57kg – including Olympic runner-up Valeria KOBLOVA (RUS) and world medalist Iryna KURACHKINA (BLR) and Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR).  She’ll also have to get through a slew of continental champions, including European winners Alina HRUSHYNA AKOBIIA (UKR) and Irina OLOGONOVA (RUS), and Asian champ Anshu ANSHU (IND). 

The Poland Open will be Maroulis’ second competition of the ’21 season. The two-time world champion's last competition was January’s Henri Deglane in France. She won four matches and defeated Germany’s Laura MERTENS to win the 57kg gold. The win in France marked Maroulis’ first international gold since she claimed her second world title at the ’17 Paris World Championships. 

On paper, Adekuoroye, Africa’s first-ever women’s wrestling world finalist, would be the biggest threat to Maroulis’ shot at winning Ranking Series gold in Warsaw. But, after being sidelined for over 16 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two-time world bronze medalist Iryna Kurachkina takes the top spot as Maroulis’s biggest threat. 

Kurachkina is on an eight-tournament podium finishing streak that dates back to May ‘19’s International Ukrainian Tournament. During that stretch, she’s captured gold at the European Championships, European Games, Individual World Cup, and the prestigious Alexander Medved Prizes. She also finished with bronze medalists at the ’19 World Championships, European Championships, and the International Ukrainian Tournament twice.  

If Adekuoroye and Maroulis happen to meet, it wouldn’t be the first meeting between the two superstars. The pair wrestled in an exhibition in New York City at the ’18 Beat the Street. The American scored the matches only takedown, shut down the Nigerian’s offense, and eased her way to a 4-1 win. 

Rio Olympic runner-up Valeria Kobloba will make her first appearance down at 57kg since between the ’17 World Championships and when she gave birth. Since then, she's competed at the Russian (59kg) and European Championships (62kg), finishing in first and fifth, respectively. 

The two other continental champions that'll compete in Warsaw are Ologonova and Anshu.

Anshu will wrestle for a fourth time this season. It’ll be her first competition back since winning the 57kg Asian title in April. Her other two competitions were the Asian Olympic Qualifier and the Matteo Pellicone. She qualified India for the Olympic Games after she reached the finals at the Asian Olympic Qualifier but dropped her bronze-medal match at the Pellicone and finished in fifth place. 

Ologonova, the three-time world silver medalist, will compete outside Russia for the first time since the ’18 World Championships. Most recently, she fell to Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS) (who is also entered in the competition) in the Russian National finals.  

Two dark horses that round out the weight are Alina Hrushyna Akobiia and Mathilde Hélène RIVIERE (FRA). 

The young upset-minded Hrushyna Akobiia is looking to spoil the party at 57kg. Last week, she claimed gold at the U23 European Championships – which was her fifth consecutive tournament finishing in the top three. Prior to that win in Skopje, she qualified Ukraine for the Olympic Games with her final-reaching performance at the European Olympic Qualifier, claimed silver and bronze medals at the ’20 and ’21 senior-level European Championships, respectively, and won the International Ukrainian Tournament. 

Riviere finished in second place at the World Olympic Qualifier and qualified France for the Tokyo Olympic Games.  

Wrestling at the Poland Open kicks off on June 8 and can be followed live on www.uww.org.  

57kg Entries 
Mathilde Hélène RIVIERE (FRA) 
Elena Heike BRUGGER (GER) 
Fatoumata Yarie CAMARA (GUI) 
Anshu ANSHU (IND) 
Odunayo Folasade ADEKUOROYE (NGR) 
Patrycja GIL (POL) 
Jowita Maria WRZESIEN (POL) 
Magdalena Urszula GLODEK (POL) 
Mehlika OZTURK (TUR) 
Tetyana KIT (UKR) 


Saravi Dominates #WrestleWarsaw to Claim Spot on Iran Olympic Team

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (June 13) --- After the 97kg Greco-Roman final, Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI) went up to the judge to seek answers. His actions were justified as he had not only lost the gold medal to compatriot Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) but also the opportunity to represent Iran at the Tokyo Olympics.

Iran, treating the Poland Open as the selection trial for Tokyo Games, had entered the two and on Sunday, they dominated the field and reached the final. This was the last category that was undecided for Iran after three freestyle and one Greco-Roman class finalized in Warsaw.


Poland Open

They had to wait till the end of the day as it was the final bout and then more as both Iran wrestlers had mistakenly wore opposite singlets. 50 seconds into the bout they changed the singlets and resumed the bout. Saravi got the advantage of Balihamzehdeh being passive in the first period and he got an exposure to lead 3-0.

Balihamzehdeh was hoping that Saravi will be warned for inactivity as well but that did not happen as the latter kept on the pressure throughout the period. It ended 3-0 in favour of Saravi, completing the Iran team for the upcoming Games.

His gold medal also pushes him to third position in the Tokyo seeding as he collected 16 points. His total of 52 points takes him ahead of Cenk ILDEM (TUR) who is now out of the seeding.

Tadeusz MICHALIK (POL) finished fifth in Warsaw and collected 10 points for a total of 42 to edge past Ildem by a point.

There was no other major shuffle in the Olympic seedings for the weight classes that were in action on Sunday.

At 87kg, veteran Uzbek wrestler Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) won a bronze medal to collect 12 points but that doesn't change his third position in the seedings.


The gold medal was captured but he upcoming star and two-time U23 world champion Semen NAVIKOV (UKR). In the final, he defeated Istvan TAKACS (HUN) 2-1 with all points scored on referees call.

Takacs had earlier stopped Rio Olympic bronze medalist Assakalov's run in the tournament with a 2-1 win in the semifinal. The Uzbek then came back in the bronze medal bout against Arkadiusz KULYNYCZ (POL) with a big fall.

The next big thing in Ukrainian wrestling Navikov will not be at the Olympics as another star wrestler Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) is scheduled to wrestle in the Japanese capital city.

In the remaining three weight categories, hosts Poland captured two gold medals while the third went to Uzbekistan.

Michal TRACZ (POL) wrestled Ekrem OZTURK (TUR) in the 60kg final and held on for 3-2 win for his home country. In the nordic style bracket, he won two bouts to reach the semifinal in which he came out on top against Mukhammadkodir YUSUPOV (UZB) 3-2.

Ozturk had a back-and-forth semifinal against Olivier SKRZYPCZAK (POL) as the two scored 26 points in the stipulated six minutes. In the end, Ozturk won 15-11 to reach the final.

Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL) won the second gold medal for Poland as he defeated Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB) 4-3 in the 72kg final.

The Pole had some tough bouts throughout the day as he began with a 3-1 win against Krisztian VANCZA (HUN) 3-1 before pulling through a 1-1 win against compatriot Roman PACURKOWSKI (POL).

From the other side, Rakhmatov defeated Juan AAK (NOR) 9-0 in the qualification before clinching a 7-0 win over Mateusz BERNATEK (POL) in the quarterfinal. He had a tough one against Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) in the semifinal but managed to pull off 5-4.

Uzbekistan did get it's gold medal on Sunday as five-time ranking series finalist Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) managed to hang on and defeat Ayata SUZUKI (JPN) 5-3 in the 63kg final. Suzuki was awarded a point for Bakhramov's passivity and he later got an exposure from par terre to lead 3-0. But Bakhramov reversed it and completed a head-pinch to make it 3-2.

In the second period, he got the point for Suzuki's inactivity and then exposed him from the par terre position to lead 5-3. The Japanese did try quite a few arm throws but failed to get any points.

From Japan, world champion Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) was also scheduled to make the Poland trip but pulled out at the last moment due to unforeseen circumstances. Fumita has now not competed internationally since winning the gold medal at the Asian Championships in New Delhi in February, 2020.

Poland Open 63kg


GOLD: Michal TRACZ (POL) df Ekrem OZTURK (TUR), 3-2
BRONZE: Mukhammadkodir YUSUPOV (UZB) df Olivier SKRZYPCZAK (POL), 10-2

GOLD: Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) df. Ayata SUZUKI (JPN), 5-3
BRONZE: Christopher KRAEMER (GER) df. Artor HAGERUP (NOR), via fall
BRONZE: Krisztian KECSKEMETI (HUN) df. Mairbek SALIMOV (POL), 4-0

GOLD: Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL) df. Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB), 4-3
BRONZE: Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) df. Juan AAK (NOR), 2-1
BRONZE: Krisztian VANCZA (HUN) df. Roman PACURKOWSKI (POL), 3-1

GOLD: Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) df. Istvan TAKACS (HUN), 2-1
BRONZE: Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) df. Arkadiusz KULYNYCZ (POL), via fall
BRONZE: Metehan BASAR (TUR) df. Bachir SID AZARA (ALG), 1-1

GOLD: Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) df. Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI), 3-0
BRONZE: Islam ABBASOV (AZE) df. Gerard Cyprian KURNICZAK (POL), 4-0