Takhti Cup

Yazdani-Karimi wrestle off for Iran's World team spot

By Ali Feizasa

TONEBABON, Iran (June 13) -- Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) last won a World Championships medal in 2014. Competing at 86kg, he won a bronze medal. Since then, he has moved up to 97kg and will be fighting for his spot on Iran's national team for the Belgrade World Championships.

But achieve his second World Championships medal, Mohammdian will have to go through Mojtaba GOLEIJ (IRI) as the '21 Worlds bronze medalist won the gold medal at the prestigious Takhti Cup last week.

The tournament was a qualifying step for the wrestlers to enter the selection trials for the World Championships that will be held in Belgrade from September 10 to 18.

At 97kg, Goleij came home with a narrow 2-1 win against Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI) to book his spot in the trials against Mohammdian. The two will be the options for Iran's coaching board for Belgrade.

Alireza KARIMI (IRI)Alireza KARIMI (IRI) will have to outlast Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) to make the Iran team at 86kg. (Photo: UWW / Amirreza Aliasgari)

A big match-up was also set at 86kg. After achieving three World Championships medals over the last six years, Alireza KARIMI (IRI) missed his spot on the national team due to injury for three years. He made a move up to 97kg before 2019 and had mixed success. He did win a silver medal at the '19 Worlds at 92kg. But Karimi has made a return to 86kg and won the Takhti Cup gold.

Karimi downed former World silver Ezatollah AKBARI (IRI), 7-2 in the semifinal and earned a 6-0 victory against Hamed VAFAEIPOUR (IRI) in the final bout. But Karimi knows well that he has a big rock in front of him in the form of world champion Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) if he wants to make the national team again.

“Injuries made my way difficult and I couldn’t concentrate and train," Karimi said. "I had only two weeks training for Takhti Cup and my performance was not bad. All Iranian opponents except Yazdani competed in the Takhti Cup. I will continue my training to reach the national team spot."

Apart from the return of Karimi, the defeat of world silver medalist Alireza SARLAK (IRI) and the rise of cadet world champion 17-year-old Amirreza MASOUMI (IRI) were the highlights of the competition.

In absence of Tokyo Olympian Reza ATRI (IRI), U23 World bronze medalist Ahmad JAVAN (IRI) proved himself as the new flagbearer for Iran at the weight. He defeated Sarlak 3-2 in a thrilling final at 57kg.

Atri, who had not competed since a fifth-place finish at the Olympics, moved up a weight class and won the 61kg gold medal with a 6-2 win over Majid DASTAN (IRI).

European champion Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) was also entered at 61kg but ended with a bronze medal.

Amirreza MASOUMI (IRI)Amirreza MASOUMI (IRI), 17, won the 125kg gold at the Takhti Cup. (Photo: UWW / Amirreza Aliasgari)

Young Masoumi stars

The surprise of the tournament came at 125kg when Masoumi won the gold medal with ease at the weight class and earn himself a shot at making the World Championships team.

The name Masoumi would be familiar to fans. Fardin MASOUMI (IRI) was a 2009 World silver medalist and a fifth-place finisher at the '08 Beijing Olympics.

The four-time Asian champion's son Amirreza stood by the family reputation and beat Mahdi HASHEMI (IRI) 7-0 via cautions in the final to celebrate his senior debut.

Still a junior, it was at the insistence of the coaching staff that Masoumi jumped up to the senior level.

“I am 17 and it is my first year in junior level but national team coaches decided I compete in senior level," Masoumi said. "I am very happy for the gold especially for making my father and my coach happy.”

Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI)Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) will be eyeing the 70kg spot on the Iran national team. (Photo: UWW / Amirreza Aliasgari)

In other weight classes, Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) strengthened his position at 70kg. After winning the silver medal in Oslo at 65kg, Yazdani moved up to 70kg and won gold at the Yasar Dogu Ranking Series event.

Now, the 21-year-old strengthened his position on Iran national team by winning the gold last week. He passed two Armenian wrestlers to capture the title. He first downed Narek HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) 6-0 in the semifinal and then humbled European silver medalist Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM), 3-1 in the summit clash.

“All Iranian rivals competed in Takhti Cup," Yazdani said. "My final rival was 2022 European champion [silver] and I hope these titles continue for me. I am like a soldier for the Iranian national team and we obey all decisions of the coaching board."

Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM)Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) was the lone non-Iranian gold medalist at the Takhti Cup. (Photo: UWW / Amirreza Aliasgari)

An Armenian wrestler did take home a gold medal as Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) became the only non-Iranian champion at 65kg. He won a high-stake final against Tokyo Olympian Morteza GHIASI (IRI) 5-3.

Iran is looking for a successor at 74kg and Mohammadsadgeh FIROUZPOUR (IRI) has so far begun well. Like his brother Amirhossein, Mohammadsadgeh is taking one step at a time. The two grabbed the junior and U23 world medals last year and are moving up to the senior level. Amirhossein won the Asian Championships gold at 92kg before winning silver at the Ranking Series event in Almaty in June at 97kg.

Mohammadsadgeh FIROUZPOUR (IRI)Mohammadsadgeh FIROUZPOUR (IRI) won the gold at 74kg. (Photo: UWW / Amirreza Aliasgari)

Mohammadsadegh stepped up and won the Takhti Cup gold at 74kg by defeating Hamed RASHIDI (IRI), 1-1, in a close final.

World silver medalist Mohammad NOKHODI (IRI) proved himself the favorite to attend the World Championships at 79kg. He had a dominant run at the Takhti Cup as he reached the final with ease. His only test came in the gold medal bout but he succeed to beat Mostafa GHIASI (IRI) 7-5.

At 92kg, junior world champion Mahdi HAJILOUEIAN (IRI) sprung a surprise and won the gold over Asian silver medalist and Yasar Dogu champion Ahmad BAZRI (IRI). Hajiloueian earned a 6-3 victory in the final after two 11-0 wins against Beka TCHELIDZE (GEO) and Sobhan ASGHARI (IRI).


GOLD: Ahmad JAVAN (IRI) df. Alireza SARLAK (IRI), 3-2


GOLD: Reza ATRI (IRI) df. Majid DASTAN (IRI), 6-2


GOLD: Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) df. Morteza GHIASI (IRI), 5-3

BRONZE: Mohammadreza BAGHERI (IRI)

GOLD: Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) df. Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM), 3-1


GOLD: Mohammadsadegh FIROUZPOUR (IRI) df. Hamed RASHIDI (IRI), 1-1


GOLD: Mohammad NOKHODI (IRI) df. Mostafa GHIASI (IRI), 7-5

BRONZE: Mohammadhossein NOROUZYAN (IRI)

GOLD: Alireza KARIMI (IRI) df. Hadi Vafaeipour (IRI), 7-2


GOLD: Mahdi HAJILOUEIAN (IRI) df. Ahmad BAZRI (IRI), 6-3

BRONZE: Sobhan ASGHARI Asghari (IRI)
BRONZE: Mohammadhossein MIRBAGHBAN (IRI)

GOLD: Mojtaba GOLEIJ (IRI) df. Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI), 2-1


GOLD: Amirreza MASOUMI (IRI) df. Alireza GORZBAR (IRI), 7-0 (via VCA)


Takhti Cup

23 Countries Set to Compete in Freestyle Takhti Cup

By Ali Feizasa

The 38th Freestyle Takhti Cup will be held Thursday and Friday in Tabriz, Iran. The field is expected to include aproximately190 wrestlers representing 23 different countries. 

Below is a look at the top competitors in each weight class. 

57kg: Mongolian Erdenebat among favorites at lightweight 

The favorites at lightweight are two-time world bronze medal winner and Asian champion Bekhbayar ERDENEBAT (MGL), 2016 Asian champion Sandeep TOMAR (IND) and Dmitrii AKSENOV (RUS), who placed third at the 2017 Russian championships.

In the absence of Hassan RAHIMI (IRI), it seems best Iranian representative will be Nader HAJAGHANIA (IRI), who placed third at the 2017 Asian Indoor Games.
Asian Indoor Games silver medalist Gabit TOLEPBAY (KAZ) also competes at 57kg. Tolepbay beat Hajaghania in the Indoor Games semifinals by fall. A potential rematch would be interesting. 

61kg: Bulgaria, Turkey wrestlers seek gold

Two main rivals of 61kg are U23 world bronze medalist Suleyman ATLI (TUR) and 2015 world bronze medalist Vladimir DUBOV (BUL). Dubov placed fifth at the Rio Olympics. The Takhti Cup will be a test for him with the new rules.

65kg: Iranian Ehsanpoor in new weight class

Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI), an Iranian national team member at the Olympics and World Championships, moved up to 65kg. It's his first appearance in the new weight class. 

Viktor RASSADIN (RUS), who placed second at the 2017 Russian Championships, will be a notable wrestler at 65kg. Other contenders include 2016 junior world champion Pejman BYABANI (IRI), 2015 world bronze medalist Vasyl SHUPTAR (UKR) and 2015 European bronze medalist Volodya FRANGULYAN (ARM). 

70kg: Battle of world medalists

Two world medalists step on the mat at 70kg. Nurlan BEKZHANOV (KAZ) and Uulu Elaman DOGDURBEK (KGZ) won won silver and bronze at the 2016 World Championships.

Turkey also sends strong team, which includes 2016 European silver medal winner Musfata KAYA (TUR) and 2016 junior world champion Enes USLU (TUR) at 70kg.

74kg: Gor against Iranians

Two-time world medal winner Yakup GOR (TUR) has a difficult job as two talented Iranians are looking to turn in strong performances for spots on the Iranian team at the upcoming World Cup and Asian Championships. Hamed RASHIDI (IRI) is a 2017 Asian bronze medalist, while Saeid DADASHPOUR (IRI) is a 2017 Asian Indoor Games bronze medal winner.

79kg: Veterans Azcuy, Shabanau in new weight class

Cuba and Belarus send experienced wrestlers to the Takhti Cup. 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner and two-time world medalist Livan Lopez AZCUY (CUB) competes at 79kg for the first time. Three-time world bronze medalist Ali SHABANAU (BLR), 2017 European silver medalist Murad SULEYMANOV (AZE) and two-time junior world medalist Ahmad BAZRI (IRI) are main rivals of Azcuy in 79kg.

86kg: Youngsters eye title

86kg is expected to see young wrestlers battling for medals. Two-time junior world medalist Gadzhimurad MAGOMEDSAIDOV (AZE), as well as two Iranians are the top wrestlers in the weight class.  

Kamran GHASEMPOUR (IRI) has had strong performances of late. Esmaeil MAHMOUDI (IRI) is another youngster who has an eye on the title.

92kg: Surrounded by Iranians 

Former junior world champion and 2017 Yarygin silver medalist Mohammad Javad EBRAHIMI (IRI) moved up from 86kg and wants to prove himself in the Iran national team lineup. 

Former Asian Games champion Jamal MIRZAEI(IRI) is back on the mat after an unsuccessful experience at 97kg. Reza BAYAT (IRI) and Ibrahim BOLUKBASI (TUR) are two others to watch in the weight class. 

97kg: Mohammadi seeks title

Amir MOHAMMADI (IRI) competed at the 2017 World Championships instead of Reza YAZDANI, who is out of competitions due to injury.

Now Mohammadi needs to win a 97kg title to be among the Iranians competing at the 2018 World Cup and Asian Championships.

Asian junior champion Danial SHARIATI (IRI) is young but motivated to prove himself at the Takhti Cup.

125kg: Experienced Saidau (BLR) among young rivals

2016 Olympics bronze medalist Ibrahim SAIDAU (BLR) is in the Belarus lineup but he has some young rivals.
U23 world bronze medalist Danylo KARTAVYI(UKR), junior world bronze medal winner Amir Reza AMIRI (IRI) and 2017 junior world silver medalist Naeim HASSANZADEH (IRI) are young contenders at heavyweight.

Takhti Cup schedule

7:15 a.m:  Medical Examination
7:30: Weigh in (All weight categories)
10 to 14: Elimination rounds
15 to 16:30: Elimination rounds
16:30 to 17: Opening ceremony
17 to 21: Elimination rounds and semifinals 

7:45 a.m: Weigh in (All weight categories)
10 to 13: Repechage
13 to 16: Final matches
Expected rosters of the teams:

Mongolia (4 wrestlers)
57kg- Bekhbayar ERDENEBAT
65kg- Tulga TUMUR-OCHIR
125kg- Lkhagvagerel MUNKHTUR

Turkey (22 wrestlers)
57kg- Ali KARABOGA
57kg- Ismail BASKA
61kg- Saban KIZILTAS
61kg- Suleyman ATLI
70kg- Zafer DAMA
70kg- Enes USLU
70kg-Servet COSKUN
70kg- Musfata KAYA
74kg-Ilyas GUNES
74kg- Halil SARIKAYA
74kg- Yakup GOR
79kg- Ayhan SUCU
79kg-Abdulkadir OZMEN
79kg- Ender COSKUN
86kg- Ahmet BILICI
86kg- Osman GOCEN
92kg- Ibrahim BOLUKBASI
92kg- Semih YAZICI
97kg- Salih ERINC
97kg- Faruk AKKOYUN
125kg- Abdullah OMAC
125kg- Oktay GUNGOR

Ukraine (10 wrestlers)
57kg- Armen ARAKELIAN
61kg- Vitaliy HURSKYY
65kg- Vasyl SHUPTAR
70kg- Semen RADULOV
74kg- Ivan KUSYAK
79kg- Rustam DUDAIEV
92kg- Liubomyr SAGALIUK
97kg- Murazi MCHEDLIDZE
125kg- Danylo KARTAVYI

Kazakhstan (16 wrestlers)
57kg- Azamat TOIBEK
57kg- Gabit TOLEPBAY
57kg- Berdakh PRIMBAYEV
61kg- Yeldos ABIKENOV
61kg- Kuanysh ZHAKSYBAY
61kg- Madiyar BURKHAN
61kg- Nurlan TURGAN
65kg- Sayatbek OKASSOV
70kg- Nurlan BEKZHANOV
74kg- Bolat SAKAYEV
74kg- Bakhtiyar IZBASSAROV
74kg- Alexandr GOLTSMAN
79kg- Nurdaulet KOKTEUBAYEV
86kg- Saken AITZHANOV
86kg- Elkhan ASSADOV
86kg- Zhiger ZAKIROV

India (4 wrestlers)
57kg- Sandeep TOMAR
74kg- Parveen PARVEEN
92kg- Deepak PUNIA
97kg- Viky VIKY

Azerbaijan (10 wrestlers)
61kg- Parviz IBRAHIMOV
61kg- Elchin VALIYEV
70kg- Panah ILYASLI
70kg- Joshgun AZIMOV
79kg- Murad SULEYMANOV
86kg-Gadzhimurad MAGOMEDSAIDOV
86kg- Ibrahim YUSUBOV 
92kg- Javid SADIGOV
97kg- Roman BAKIROV 
125kg- Umar ISRAILOV

Hungary (4 wrestlers)
79kg- Péter NAGY
79kg- Mihály NAGY
92kg- Bendegúz TÓTH
125kg- Mihály NAGY

Bulgaria (4 wrestlers)
61kg- Vladimir DUBOV
65kg- Filip NOVACHKOV
74kg- Ali-Pasha UMARPASHAEV
79kg- Engin ISMAIL

Belarus (6 wrestlers)
57 kg- Dzimchyk RYNCHYNAU
61 kg- Asadulla LACHINAU
61 kg- Niurhun SKRABIN
79 kg- Ali SHABANAU
86 kg- Raman CHYTADZE
125 kg- Ibrahim SAIDAU

Armenia (12 wrestlers)
57kg- Mihran JABURYAN
61kg- Garik BARSEGHYAN
65kg- Volodya FRANGULYAN
70kg- Valter MARGARYAN
70kg- Narek SIRUNYAN
74kg- Grigor GRIGORYAN
74kg- Davit APOYAN
79kg- Varujhan KAJOYAN
86kg- Marzpet GALSTYAN
92kg- Shamir ATYAN
92kg- Arman MKRTCHYAN
125kg- Andranik GALSTYAN

Kirgizstan (10 wrestlers)
57kg- Almaz SMANBEKOV
65kg- Ernazar AKMATALIEV
70kg- Uulu Elaman DOGDURBEK
70kg- Mansur SYRGAK UULU
74kg- Bekzhan KAMCHYBEKOV
79kg- Atai IZABEKOV 
86kg- Dinislam TAALAIBEK UULU
92kg- Baktyiar KARAGUL UULU 
97kg- Aibek USUPOV

Russia (2 wrestlers)
57kg- Dmitrii AKSENOV
65kg- Viktor RASSADIN

Georgia (12 wrestlers)
65kg- Shota PHARTENADZE 
70kg- Giorgi SULAVA
74kg- Aleksander JATCHVADZE 
74kg- Giorgi LOBJANIDZE
86kg- Tornike ALADASHVILI
97kg- Zviad METREVELI
125kg- Rolandi ANDRIADZE

Turkmenistan (10 wrestlers)
57kg-Meretmuhammet ATAYEV
61kg- Gerchek HEMRAYEV
65kg- Saparmyrat MYRODOV
74kg- Dovletmyrat ORAZGYLYJOV
79kg- Sahergeldi SAPARMYRADOV
92kg- Selimmuhammet MUHADYYEV
97kg- Sohbet BELLIYEV
125kg- Yazmyrat GOKJAYEV

Afghanistan (10 wrestlers)
57kg- Hamidullah ABDULLAH
61kg- Zubaidullah TIMORI
65kg- Malik Jan SADEED
70kg- Mushtaq JABARI
74kg- Abdul Ghafar QADERI
79kg- Farhad MALIKZADA
86kg- Abdul Hai FAQIRI
92kg- Noor Ahmad AHMADI
97kg- Bezhand AMIRI
125kg- Sayed Khalid HASHIMI

Tajikistan (7 wrestlers)
61kg- Dzhamshed SHARIFOV
65kg- Azizbeki SHARIFZODA
70kg- Sorbon ABDULKHAEV
74kg- Gulomdzhon SHARIPOV
86kg- Bakhodur KODIROV
125kg- Farkhod ANAKULOV

Wrestlers of Latin America (6 wrestlers)
57kg- Cristian Jose Mox ARIAS (GUA)
61kg-Agustin Alejandro DESTRIBATS (ARG)
65kg- Ipuz Hernan GUZMAN (COL)
70kg- Luis Isaias Portillo MEJJIA (ESA)
79kg- Livan Lopez AZCUY (CUB)
86kg- Pool Edinson Ambrocio GREIFO (PER)

Iran (38 wrestlers)
57kg- Nader HAJAGHANIA – Hamid KHALILI – Mehran REZAZADEH – Mohammad TAHMASEBI
65kg- Morteza GHIYASI – Shayan HAMZE – Pejman BYABANI – Behnam EHSANPOOR
70kg- Mohammadreza SARGOO – Nima ESHGHAGHI – Hossein MOSTAFAVI – Milad TAHMASEBI
79kg- Omid HASSANTABAR – Aram RAHIMI – Mohammad MOTAGHINIA – Ahmad BAZRI
86kg- Kamran GHASEMPOUR – Masoud MADADI - Esmaeil MAHMOUDI
92kg- Mohammad Javad EBRAHIMI – Jamal MIRZAEI – Arashk MOHEBI – Reza BAYAT
97kg- Abazar ESLAMI – Alireza GOUDARZI – Amir MOHAMMADI – Danial SHARIATI