Iran Hauls in 4 More Golds to Cap Domination of Asian Freestyle

By Ken Marantz

XI’AN, China (April 24) – Iran capped its domination of the freestyle competition at the Asian Championships by hauling in four of the five gold medals at stake on the second day—twice denying host China a title in the process.

And a gritty performance by a teenager making his senior debut assured that every member of the Iranian team will be heading home with a medal.  

China’s bid to stop the Iranian juggernaut fizzled out when world silver medalist DENG Zhiwei (CHN) fell 2-1 in the 125kg final to Yadollah MOHEBI (IRI) in the last bout of the night at Xi’an’s Xidian University Gymnasium. 

Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI) won his second Asian title with a 2-1 win over China's LIU Minghu in the 61kg finals. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

That was the same score by which Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI) had edged LIU Minghu (CHN) at 61kg in the first final to regain the Asian title he won two years ago in New Delhi.

Iran’s other gold medals were seized by world U23 champion Kamran GHASEMPOUR (IRI) at 86kg and world bronze medalist Alireza KARIMIMACHIANI (IRI) at 92kg, both of whom were hardly challenged during the competition and finished up with technical fall victories in the finals. 

With seven golds and three bronzes, Iran easily won the team competition with 220 points. India, with one gold, three silvers and four bronzes, was second at 155, followed by Kazakhstan, which had 129 after finishing with two golds, a silver and two bronzes.

Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ), the 74kg gold medalist, was the non-Iranian Day 2 champion. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

The lone gold medal that didn’t end around the neck of an Iranian went to Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ), who captured the first major medal of his career when he forged a 5-0 victory over Amit DHANKHAR (IND) in the 74kg final.

“I’m feeling good, I brought some happiness to my family and fans,” said Kaisonov, a bronze medalist in Bishkek last year and the silver medalist at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

Kaisonov’s path to the final got a little smoother when two potential rivals, world silver medalist Adam BATIROV (BRN) and Yuhi FUJINAMI (JPN), a 2017 world bronze medalist at 70kg, both exited the tournament by defaults after suffering injuries during victories.

“We still have time to meet each other,” Kaisanov said. “But anyway, I was ready and really confident in myself.”

Mohammad NOKHODILARIMI (IRI) scored a bronze medal at 74kg with a 9-8 comeback win over Ilgiz DZHAKYPBEKOV (KGZ). (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Meanwhile, Mohammad NOKHODILARIMI (IRI) avoided the prospect of being the only Iranian to head home without a medal when he put on a furious comeback to defeat Ilgiz DZHAKYPBEKOV (KGZ), 9-8, in a bronze-medal match at 74kg.

Dzhakypbekov built up a 6-1 lead, and was still ahead on criteria when the 18-year-old Nokhodilarimi, a 2o17 world cadet bronze medalist, stormed back to make it 8-8 in the final minute. The Iranian stayed on the attack and drove out a fatigued Dzhakypbekov for the decisive point with :33 left. 

“If I lost, I would have been depressed,” said Nokhodilarimi, who seemed to be sparked by a dressing down from his coach between periods.

In the 61kg final, China’s Liu, a world U23 bronze medalist, received an activity clock point for the lone score of the first period. But in the second period, Ehsanpoor scored with a single-leg takedown, and that held up for the gold.

At 86kg, Ghasempour totally dominated Aligarizhi GAMIDGADZHIEV (KGZ), building up a 7-0 lead with three takedowns in the first period, then finishing up a 10-0 technical fall at the 4:10 mark.

Alireza KARIMIMACHIANI (IRI) grabbed the 92kg gold medal with an 11-0 victory over India's Viky VIKY (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Karimimachiani didn’t need that long to put away Viky VIKY (IND) at 92kg, scoring four takedowns before ending the match at 2:28 with a roll that made it 11-0.

In the night’s finale, Deng started out just like compatriot Liu, gaining an activity point to lead 1-0 going into the second period. But Mohebi forced the Chinese out for a point that put him ahead on criteria, then received an activity point himself for the 2-1 victory.

India came away with three bronze medals, while Japan and Kazakhstan had two each.

One of Japan’s was won by world bronze medalist Atsushi MATSUMOTO (JPN), who denied Azizbek SOLIEV (UZB)a second straight bronze by posting a 9-3 victory. The continental medal was the third of Matsumoto’s career, having previously won silvers in both styles-- freestyle in 2015 and Greco-Roman in 2017.

The six-day tournament in the historic central Chinese city continues Thursday with the start of the women’s competition. 

Day 2 results


61kg (14 entries)
Gold – Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI) df. LIU Minghu (CHN), 2-1 
Bronze – Rahul AWARE (IND) df. KIM Jincheol (KOR), 9-2
Bronze – Yudai FUJITA (JPN) df. Dzhamshed SHARIFOV (TJK), 3-1 

74kg (13 entries)
Gold – Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) df. Amit DHANKHAR (IND), 5-0
Bronze – Mohammad NOKHODILARIMI (IRI) df. Ilgiz DZHAKYPBEKOV (KGZ), 9-8
Bronze – Olgenbayar BATSUURI (MGL) df. Adam BATIROV (BRN) by Default

86kg (15 entries)
Gold – Kamran GHASEMPOUR (IRI) df. Aligarizhi GAMIDGADZHIEV (KGZ) by TF, 10-0, 4:10
Bronze – Gankhuyag GANBAATAR (MGL) df. Abdurasul VAKHOBOV (UZB), 4-0
Bronze – Deepak PUNIA (IND) df. Bakhodur KODIROV (TJK), 8-2 

92kg (11 entries)
Gold – Alireza KARIMIMACHIANI (IRI) df. Viky VIKY (IND) by TF, 11-0, 2:29 
Bronze – Atsushi MATSUMOTO (JPN) df. Azizbek SOLIEV (UZB), 9-2
Bronze – SUN Xiao (CHN) df. Muhammad INAM (PAK) by Default

125kg (11 entries)
Gold – Yadollah MOHEBI (IRI) df. DENG Zhiwei (CHN), 2-1
Bronze – KIM Donghwan (KOR) df. Khasanboy RAKHIMOV (UZB) by Fall, 4:41 (4-1) 
Bronze – Sumit SUMIT (IND) df. Farkhod ANAKULOV (TJK), 8-2

Freestyle Team Standings

Gold – Iran, 220 points (7 gold-0 silver-3 bronze)
Silver – India, 155 (1-3-4)
Bronze – Kazakhstan, 129 (2-1-2) 


Bakhramov Matches Brother as Asian Greco Champion; Geraei, Abdvali Also Strike Gold Among Siblings

By Ken Marantz

XI’AN, China (April 28)—Having seen his younger brother win a gold medal the day before, Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) did what comes naturally to a sibling. Wanting what he has.

Bakhramov made it two golds in the family when he captured the 60kg title as the Asian Championships finished up with competition in five Greco-Roman finals on the sixth and final day in Xi’an.

Bakhramov defeated RI Se Ung (PRK) by a 12-4 technical fall, avenging a loss in the semifinals at last year’s Asian Championships in Bishkek, where he had to settle for a bronze medal. 

It also gave Uzbekistan a second gold medal after younger brother Ilkhom captured the 55kg title the previous day.

“Two brothers in one sport is very excellent,” Bakhramov said. “We motivate each other. If the younger brother wins a medal, why shouldn’t the older brother also win? If he wins, I must win.”

Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) celebrates after winning the 72kg gold medal with a 5-0 win over China's ZHANG Hujun. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Meanwhile, Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) and Saeid ABDVALI (IRI)—who also had brothers competing in Xi’an, both of whom won bronze medals—cruised to the 72kg and 82kg titles, respectively, to help Iran capture the team championship by just two points ahead of Uzbekistan.

The title race came down to the final match of the tournament, and a 3-2 victory by Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) over Jahongir TURDIEV (UZB) in the 97kg final left Uzbekistan two points short of Iran, which won with 165 after securing four golds and three bronzes. 

Kazakhstan was third with 134 points, mainly on the strength of six bronze medals.

Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) tosses RI Se Ung (PRK) in the 60kg gold-medal bout. The Uzbekistan wrestler reached the top of the podium with a 12-4 victory. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

In a never-a-dull moment 60kg final, Bakhramov got the advantage first in the par terre position and executed a roll for a 3-0 lead. But Ri, who knocked off 2017 world champion Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) and world bronze medalist Sailike WALIHAN (CHN) en route to the final, came back with a 2-point back drop.

Bakhramov replied with a twisting head lock for two points, but Ri struck back with a 2-point head lock throw to cut the gap to 5-4. 

In the second period, the Uzbeki padded his lead with a takedown and 1-point leg-grab penalty. With the seconds ticking down, Ri made a last-ditch leap for a score, but landed on his back, giving Bakhramov four points and the technical fall at the buzzer.

“Last time I didn’t know him, what moves he would do,” Bakhramov said. “This time I was ready absolutely. I trained very well and was completely ready for this championships.”

For Ilkhom Bakhramov, seeing his older brother’s success only doubled the pleasure of his own.

“Yesterday when I won the [gold] medal, I was really happy,” he said. “But it was like 50 percent. Today, my brother also won, so that’s why it’s 100 percent. I was shouting and jumping.”

Geraei, who was third at the Asian Games last summer in Jakarta, earned his first Asian title with a solid 5-0 victory over ZHANG Hujun (CHN) in the 72kg final. 

Geraei, whose older brother Mohammadali was third at 77kg on Saturday, scored a takedown in each period and was never really put in danger. 

Saeid ABDVALI (IRI) shutout India's Singh HARPEET, 8-0 to win the 82kg gold medal. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Abdvali, a former world champion and Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, was even more dominant in putting away Singh HARPEET (IND) by 8-0 technical fall in 3:54, scoring two takedowns and four stepouts.

“My program to prepare for this championships was five months,” said Abdvali, who won all three of his matches by technical falls without surrendering a point to add a first Asian title to two Asian Games crowns. “At the competition, I was strong and ready.”

Advali said younger brother Saman, a bronze medalist at 63kg, had his chance for gold, too. “He made a mistake and that caused him to lose,” he said.

Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) celebrates after scoring the 3-2 win over Jahongir TURDIEV (UZB) in the 97kg gold-medal match. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

In the 97kg final, Dzhuzupbekov, who was third at both the Asian Championships and Asian Games last year, managed to roll Turdiev from the par terre position a minute into the second period to take a 3-1 lead, then held on for the victory.

RYU Hansu (KOR) used a four-point move to top Meiirzhan SHERMAKHANBET (KAZ), 5-1 in the final at 67kg. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

The other title at stake on the final night at Xidian University’s Invengo Gymnasium went to RYU Hansu (KOR), who scored with a 4-point move with :46 left in the 67kg final to top world bronze medalist Meiirzhan SHERMAKHANBET (KAZ), 5-1.

With the wrestlers tied at 1-1 from passivity points, Ryu secured a body lock from the side, then twisted Shermakhanbet backwards and down for the big-point move that secured his third Asian gold.  

“It’s something that I practice all the time,” said Ryu, a two-time Asian Games champion and 2017 world champion. “It came natural to me because I have done it so many times.”

Host China, which finished 10 points behind Kazakhstan in the team standings, ended on a positive note with three wrestlers taking bronze medals: ZHANG Gaoquan (CHN) at 67kg, QIAN Haitao (CHN) at 87 kg and XIAO Di (CHN) at 97kg. 

Japan came away with a pair of bronzes from Fumita at 60kg and Shogo TAKAHASHI (JPN) at 67kg. Fumita, the 2017 world and Asian champion, won without a fight as Walihan defaulted their bronze-medal match due to a shoulder injury. 

One of the more exciting matches of the evening program was a come-from-behind victory by Maxat YEREZHEPOV (KAZ) in an 82kg bronze-medal match.

Trailing Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) 5-0, Yerezhepov was in the process of being lifted for a roll, when he suddenly clamped down on his opponent’s arm to send him to his back and win by an unlikely fall at 2:02.

Day 6 results


60kg (12 entries)

Gold – Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) df. RI Se Ung (PRK) by TF, 12-4, 6:00
Bronze – Gyanender GYANENDER (IND) df. HUANG Jui Chi (TPE) by TF, 9-0, 2:45
Bronze – Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) df. Sailike WALIHAN (CHN) by Default

67kg (14 entries)
Gold – RYU Hansu (KOR) df. Meiirzhan SHERMAKHANBET (KAZ), 5-1
Bronze – ZHANG Gaoquan (CHN) df. Abdulkarim AL HASAN (SYR), 7-0
Bronze – Shogo TAKAHASHI (JPN) df. Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB), 5-2

72kg (9 entries)
Gold – Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) df. ZHANG Hujun (CHN), 5-0 
Bronze – Ruslan TSAREV (KGZ) df. Yogesh YOGESH (IND) by TF, 8-0, 1:12 
Bronze – Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ) df. Aram VARDANYAN (UZB)  by Fall, 2:29 (3-2)

82kg (9 entries)
Gold – Saeid ABDVALI (IRI) df. Singh HARPEET (IND) by TF, 8-0, 3:54
Bronze – Maxat YEREZHEPOV (KAZ) df. Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) by Fall, 2:02 (2-5)
Bronze – QIAN Haitao (CHN) df. Burgo BEISHALIEV (KGZ) by TF, 9-0, 3:29 

97kg (9 entries)
Gold – Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) df. Jahongir TURDIEV (UZB), 3-2
Bronze – XIAO Di (CHN) df. LEE Seyeol (KOR), 1-1 
Bronze – Mahdi ALIYARIFEIZABADI (IRI) df. Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ), 4-2

Team Standings
1. Iran 165 points (4 gold-0 silver-3 bronze)
2. Uzbekistan 163 (2-3-1)
3. Kazakhstan 134 (0-1-6)