World Championships day one semis set

By Ken Marantz & Vinay Siwach

BELGRADE, Serbia (September 10) -- The first day of the World Championships is here. Belgrade is all set for the biggest event of the year. Greco-Roman kicks off the competition with a lot of anticipation from the local crowd as they hope to win two of the four gold medals.


What a session we had on the first day of the competition. The semifinals for the evening session are set.

Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) vs. Max NOWRY (USA)

Selcuk CAN (TUR) vs. Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE)
Ali ARSALAN (SRB) vs. Ibrahim GHANEM (FRA)

Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) vs. Hyeonwoo KIM (KOR)
Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) vs. Viktor NEMES (SRB) 

Ali CENGIZ (TUR) vs. Turpan Ali Alvievich BISULTANOV (DEN)

14:30: The final bout of the morning session is a thriller. Olympic champion Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) began with a four but Yunus BASAR (TUR) got the exposure in the same move before adding a four for himself. Makhmudov with a takedown before challenging for another. Basar held 7-7 criteria lead before he was cautioned for a singlet pull when Makhmudov was attacking. Makhmudov got the 9-7 lead and the win.

14:25: Veteran Hyeonwoo KIM (KOR) showed he still has medal-winning potential when the 33-year-old scored all of his points early in the first period and cruised to a 6-0 victory over Aram VARDANYAN (UZB) in the 77kg quarterfinals. 

14:25: Viktor NEMES (SRB) is moving into the 77kg semifinals. The former world champion gets a 7-0 win over Rui LIU (CHN). The local fans are absolutely thrilled with it.

14:24: Zoltan LEVAI (HUN), who started the day by knocking off the 2021 world 72kg champion, continued his mission at 77kg by routing Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) by 9-0 technical fall. Levai scored 4 points in the par terre in the first period, then ended the match with a takedown in the second.

14:15: Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) kept his hopes alive of regaining the world title he won in 2019, but he came dangerously close to missing out. The 2021 world bronze medalist had to fight off his back in the first period, then scored a 2-point throw in the second to clinch a 5-2 quarterfinal victory over Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB). 

14:09: Top seed Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) powered his way into the 55kg semifinals, scoring three gut wrenches from the par terre before putting away Asian champion Yu SHIOTANI (JPN) with a second-period takedown for a 9-0 technical fall.

14:07: Max NOWRY (USA) with a fall in the quarterfinals! Fabian SCHMITT (GER) cannot come out of the headlock after par terre.

14:05: 55kg quarterfinals and Poya DAD MARZ (IRI) is wrestling Amangali BEKBOLATOV (KAZ) who gets the 1-0 lead for the passivity of Dad Marz. In the second period, Bekbolatov begins with a takedown before a point for Dad Marz.

13:59: If Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL) takes home a medal from Belgrade, at best it will only be the same as the bronze he won in Oslo last year. Selcuk CAN (TUR) scored a 2-point throw from par terre in the second period, giving him a 3-1 victory and the final place in the 72kg semifinals.

13:55: On Mat D, Ibrahim GHANEM (FRA) built a 4-0 lead before adding two more stepouts to lead 6-0 against Valentin PETIC (MDA). No more score in that bout as Ghanem reached the semifinals.

13:53: European bronze medalist Ulvu GANIZADE (AZE) takes full advantage of par terre, scoring a pair of 4-point throws to overwhelm Deyvid DIMITROV (BUL) by 10-0 technical fall in just over two minutes to make the 72kg semifinals.

13:50: At 72kg, Ali ARSALAN (SRB) and top seed Kristupas SLEIVA (LTU) in the quarterfinal. Arsalan gets the advantage with par terre. He gets two turns to lead 5-0. He then goes behind Sleiva for a takedown before continuing the move to get the 9-0 win and a place in the semifinal.

13:40: Turpal BISULTANOV (DEN), aiming to become Denmark's first world Greco medalist since 2015, stayed in the running at 87kg when he scored a stepout midway through the second period and held on for a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Asian champion Naser ALIZADEH (IRI). 

13:42: 87kg quarterfinal between Damian VON EUW (SUI) and Ali CENGIZ (TUR) and it's Von Euw who gets the first par terre position. Cengiz commits a leg foul while defending which gives Von Euw a 3-0 lead. Chengiz with a stepout and he tries a body lock throw. It's only a stepout but Switzerland is asking for exposure but lost the challenge. Von Euw lead 3-3 on criteria. But Chengiz with a turn from par terre and caution against Von Euw. Chengiz wins 8-3

13:38: Defending champion Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) kept alive his hopes of a golden repeat at 87kg, scoring three points in the first period and a stepout in the second to defeat Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) 4-1 and advance to the semifinals.

13:35: The first quarterfinal win! David LOSONCZI (HUN) with a huge four-pointer against Nursultan TURSYNOV (KAZ) and it's a technical superiority 12-3 win for him at 87kg.

13:12: At 77kg, Idris IBAEV (GER) is in some trouble as Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) builds a 7-0 at the break. Ibaev begins with a takedown in the second period but Shadukayev with an arm throw for four and he wins 11-2 

13:08: Max NOWRY (USA) assured an American presence in the quarterfinals on the opening day with a stunning victory at 55kg over Arjun HALAKURKI (IND). Trailing 3-1, Nowry launched a spectacular arm throw for 4, then clamped down for a fall with just under a minute left. 

13:05: Hyeonwoo KIM (KOR) with a roll from par terre against Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI)to lead 3-0 in their 77kg bout. Geraei can't do the same from par terre as no control when he was trying to roll Kim. A 4-1 win for Kim

13:03: Asian silver medalist Amangali BEKBOLATOV (KAZ) books his place in the 55kg quarterfinals with a 3-1 win over Nedyalko PETROV (BUL)

12:58: At 55kg, Poya DAD MARZ (IRI) rallies from a 5-0 deficit, scoring a stepout with :06 left to knock off Ekrem OZTURK (TUR) 6-5 and advance to the quarterfinals. 

12:52: Yu SHIOTANI (JPN), aiming to keep the 55kg title in Japanese hands, couldn't turn Koriun SAHRADIAN (UKR) from par terre, but came right back with a takedown and 2-point exposure to lead 5-0 after one period. A front headlock roll in the second gave him a 9-0 victory and a showdown in the quarterfinals with Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE). 

12:51: Home hero Viktor NEMES (SRB) with a four from par terre and he leads Yasaf ZEINALOV (UKR) at 77kg. Zeinalov gets a stepout and then a passivity advantage but gets no points. Nemes wins the bout 6-2

12:48: The returning bronze medalist at 55kg, Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO), had no problem in putting away Mostafa ALQADE (JOR) 10-0 in just under two minutes to make the last eight.

12:47: Here are the quarterfinals at 87kg

David LOSONCZI (HUN) vs. Nursultan TURSYNOV (KAZ)
Damian VON EUW (SUI) vs. Ali CENGIZ (TUR)

12:42: European champion and 2021 world bronze medalist Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) makes short work of Giovanni FRENI (ITA), gaining a takedown and three gut wrenches for an 8-0 technical fall in 1:32. 

12:39: At 72kg, 2021 world U23 bronze medalist Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE) secures a place in the quarterfinals with a hard-fought 4-2 win over Ibragim MAGOMADOV (KAZ). 

12:36: In a clash of continental bronze medalists, Asia wins out as Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB) caps his 9-0 technical fall over Rudik MKRTCHYAN (ARM) with a leaping 4-point roll to advance to the 55kg quarterfinals. 

12:32: Fabian SCHMITT (GER) became the first into the quarterfinals at 55kg with a close 3-2 win over Artiom DELEANU (MDA). 

12:30: Kristupas SLEIVA (LTU), a bronze medalist at 72kg a year ago in Oslo, began his campaign with a 6-3 victory over Matias LIPASTI (FIN). Sleiva was trailing 0-1 in the second period when he started a scramble with an arm throw; when the dust cleared and the referees sorted it out, he ended with six points and his opponent two. 

12:15: Ali ARSALAN (SRB) rides on the local support to come back from 3-0 down and beat Robert FRITSCH (HUN) 7-3 at 72kg. He is into the quarterfinals. That bout is followed by Ibrahim GHANEM (FRA) beating Mohammad Reza MOKHTARI (IRI) at 72kg. 

12:11: European champion Turpal BISULTANOV (DEN), aiming to improve on his fifth-place finish in 2021, took as much time waiting for the result of Barthelemy TSHOSHA (COD)'s an unsuccessful challenge to be announced than he did in scoring his 9-0 victory to make the quarterfinals at 87kg. 

12:10: World champion Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) up against Hannes WAGNER (GER) in the 87kg pre-quarterfinals. He gets the early point for Wagner's passivity. He leads 1-0 at the break. Wagner tries a tie but Datunashvili gets the takedown for two. One point for fleeing the mat. Wagner challenges but lost. Datunashvili wins 5-0.

12:06: Asian silver medalist Nursultan TURSYNOV (KAZ) makes short work of Haitao QIAN (CHN), winning 8-0 to secure a place in the 87kg quarterfinals. He will face David LOSONCZI (HUN). 

12:01: Georgio PREVOLARAKIS (GRE), trailing 4-1 against Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB), uses a front headlock roll for six points and advances at 77kg with a 7-5 victory. The Greek squirmed out of a takedown attempt in the final seconds to secure the win.

11:55: Antonio KAMENJASEVIC (CRO) got the four over Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) but the two-time World Championships bronze medalist Iran wrestler wins 5-4 as he had the throw from par terre.

11:50: At 77kg, 2021 world U23 bronze medalist Per Albin OLOFSSON (SWE) hit a 4-point back suplex with :20 left to grab a 5-1 victory over European bronze medalist Aik MNATSAKANIAN (BUL). That sets up a second-round clash with the red-hot Zoltan LEVAI (HUN).   

11:41: In a thriller at 77kg, 2021 world U23 champion Idris IBAEV (GER) stormed out to a 7-0 lead in the first period against the senior world silver medalist, Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE), only to allow him to come back with 7 points in the second. But Ibaev held the advantage by criteria, and a late unsuccessful challenge gave him an 8-7 victory.  

11:26: Two-time Asian champion Yu SHIOTANI (JPN), who knocked off 2021 world champion Ken MATSUI (JPN) in a playoff to make the squad at 55kg to Belgrade, used a 5-point throw to finish off an 8-0 technical fall over Jiahao LIU (CHN) and advance to the round of 16. 

11:20: He defeated Amoyan and now Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) beats Iuri LOMADZE (GEO) at 77kg with a 4-1 score line. Huge win for Levai  

11:10: At 72kg, Matias LIPASTI (FIN) scores a big 4-point throw with :40 left, giving him a 5-5 victory over Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB), who slammed the mat in disgust.

11:12: Naser ALIZADEH (IRI) was facing some trouble with a 5-5 criteria against Mirco MINGUZZI (ITA) but lets the lead 6-5 to win his 87kg opening bout  

11:07: Two-time European bronze medalist Rudik MKRTCHYAN (ARM) advanced out of the qualification round at 55kg with an 8-0 technical fall over Hyeokjin JEON (KOR). He will next face an Asian bronze medalist, Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB).

10:56: Continuing the first-round matches at 87kg, Damian VON EUW (SUI) used a massive lift-and-dump for 5 from par terre, then added a 2-point exposure for an 8-0 technical fall over Bachir SID AZARA (ALG) in 2:01.

10:51: In a battle of Tokyo Olympians, Jinhyeok KIM (KOR) had a successful challenge overturn a 4-point move in the final 30 seconds, preserving his 3-1 victory over Mohamed METWALLY (EGY) to send him into the round of 16.

10:45: A world champion goes down early. Malkas AMOYAN (ARM) got the turn from par terre in the first period but Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) also got the turn for a 3-3 win. Amoyan won the gold medal at the 2021 Worlds at 72kg.

10:42: Alex KESSIDIS (SWE), the silver medalist at 77kg in 2019, gets his campaign started at 87kg by tossing about Masato SUMI (JPN) from the par terre to post an 11-2 technical fall. 

10:30: The first whistle at the World Championships! Mat A has Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) going up against Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) at 77kg. Mat B has Vjekoslav LUBURIC (CRO) vs Hannes WAGNER (GER) at 87kg, Masato SUMI (JPN) vs Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) at 87kg and Mat D has Nurbek KHASHIMBEKOV (UZB) vs Yoan DIMITROV (BUL).

10:25: Greetings from Belgrade! The sun is playing hide-and-seek with the clouds, but the action will be in full view on the four mats. We're about to get the opening day started with the morning session through the quarterfinals at Greco 55kg, 72kg, 77kg and 87kg. 


Wrestling scores big at World C'ships with 706 percent jump in engagements

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (October 4) -- Wrestling scored big both on and off the mat during this year’s UWW World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, recording a staggering growth in viewership and engagement numbers digitally. Fans watched twenty-seven million minutes, close to 10 million page views on the mobile app, and a massive 706 percent jump in social media engagements in the last year.

The 2022 edition of the UWW’s flagship event, held September 10-18 was the first digitally-focussed World Championships. Special emphasis was laid on providing a high-quality fan experience that was easy to navigate and, at the same time, engaging to follow on the website, app, and various social media platforms. And the athleticism of the wrestlers drove the digital consumption, with wrestling recording impressive numbers across all platforms.

"The latest numbers from the World Championships show the importance of digitalization and with the current times, UWW is moving into the digital era," Nenad LALOVIC, UWW President, said. "The growth is reflected by the increased engagement across UWW’s new digital platforms and social media channels. This year's World Championships and the millions of fans who watched, interacted, or helped us grow, have laid the foundation for expanding the federation's digital potential."

Be it the UWW website, mobile app, the new streaming hub, or social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, wrestling showed impressive year-on-year growth compared to last year’s World Championship on different metrics, such as social media growth, total views, total minutes and time spent on the web.

“We made the digital jump during these World Championships and the results validated our initial projections that now was the time more than ever to invest into a more robust digital experience across UWW platforms,” Gordon Templeman, UWW Commercial and Communications Director said. “There was tremendous benefit from a consolidation of tools that are more interconnected than ever before. We made an initial push in a short period of time and are optimistic for continued growth.”

Key highlights from the data analysis are:

* 27 million minutes were watched during the World Championship on the new video streaming hub, which gave the fans control of the viewing experience due to its multi-view option;

* The new UWW mobile app received 9.77 million page views and an average of 13 minutes and 46 seconds per session were spent, which is roughly equivalent to one bout. The high numbers meant the app topped the sports categories in app stores in key UWW markets;

* The total social media engagements surpassed 6.2 million in September, up by 706 percent since the 2021 World Championships.

Apart from these, the average time spent on the website grew by 41 percent to seven minutes, and the total page views across the website and mobile app were recorded at close to 19 million.

"Data is key to delivering digital experiences that fans want," Hisham Shehabi, COO, N3XT Sports, said. "Therefore, a diverse digital ecosystem helps augment fan intelligence capability. With 500 social media posts, millions in streaming viewership, and increased overall engagement, UWW's ability to customize the user experience has grown."

The massive growth is a direct consequence of the path-breaking steps taken by the UWW in the last few years under the leadership of President Lalovic. The UWW has identified and prioritized digital transformation as one of the five pillars for its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, which was presented and approved at the 2021 UWW Congress.

UWW has taken several steps aimed at improving the fan experience and increasing the value to its partners to become future-proof and modernize further. A new mobile app was launched along with a video hub, which offered features like the multi-functionality view during the live streaming. This is one of the best examples of fan-led design and development as this was in direct response to the fans’ behavior while streaming.

“We focused our efforts on digital tools that would improve the competition for our fans and those at the competition. Launching an App, developing a video hub and putting in motion an audience database was a challenge, but the World Championships were too big of an opportunity not to start in this new digital direction,” said Sebastien Guenat, UWW Director of IT.

The 2022 World Championships also helped the UWW to establish itself as a true media and entertainment content house, creating more than 500 posts during the World Championships for use across its channels.

All these initiatives have helped the UWW establish a direct relationship with the fans and expand the digital footprint, as evident from the latest figures.