Tokyo 2020-Bound Fumita Regains Greco 60kg Crown from Reigning Champ Emelin

By Ken Marantz

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Sept. 17) --- Having already secured his Olympic cake, Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) added the cherry on top in the form of a second world gold medal.

Fumita, in a clash of current and former world champions, outclassed Sergey EMELIN (RUS) with a 10-5 victory over in the 60kg final at the World Championships as the final three titles in Greco-Roman were decided on Day 4.

By making the final during the qualification rounds the previous day, Fumita had already assured himself of a spot on the team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that Japan will host.

The top six finishers in each Olympic weight class secure berths for their country at Tokyo 2020---the Japan federation, however, has gone a step further by deciding that any wrestler that wins a medal automatically fills that berth without any further domestic qualifying process.

“Yesterday, I felt like I was carrying a big burden,” Fumita said. “I always give everything to try to win, but I made sure I was especially stable in winning my matches. 

“But today, the burden fell from my shoulders, and I wrestled with the firm determination to go all out and be aggressive.”

Fumita, the 2017 gold medalist who was injured for much of 2018, fell into a 5-point hole against reigning champion Emelin. The Russian gained the par terre advantage first, then twice turned Fumita with a gut wrench for a 5-0 lead.

Fumita, however, did not panic nor get distraught. In fact, he was relieved. 

“I thought, ‘I’m glad it was only 5 points,’” Fumita said. “I thought he might have ended it there. But I figured I would get a chance and then I was able to work my lifts for points. The way the match went was close to what I had planned.”

Fumita got onto the scoreboard by getting a headlock on Emelin and twisting him up and over for 4 points, then added a roll and another 4-point throw for a 10-5 lead. That’s how the first period ended, and when Emelin was unable to penetrate Fumita’s defenses in the second, that’s how it ended.

Fumita credited advice he received from senior training partner Shinobu OTA, who ironically he had defeated for the place on Japan’s team at 60kg. Ota moved up to the non-Olympic 63kg and won a gold medal on Monday.

Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) upset reinging world champion Sergey EMELIN (RUS), 10-5, to win his second career world title, and first since the 2017 Paris World Championships. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

“He’s a strong opponent,” Fumita said of Emelin. “He’s great on the ground and good at rolling. Before the match, my senior teammate Ota gave me meticulous advice such as this will work, or don’t do that. He asked for 500,000 yen ($4,600)---that’s a joke—but it would have been worth 500,000 yen.”

With the Olympic shadow hanging over the proceedings, Fumita said the elation from winning this year was different than that he experienced two years ago in Paris. 

“Winning the title in 2017 made me really happy, but it was about energy. I felt like I had ridden a wave. To win then was like reaching a goal, an end point. The World Championships is a huge event and that’s how I felt when it ended.

"This time, I was extremely careful and precise about every little detail in preparation as I aimed for the championship. It was, how do I put it, a bigger ‘feeling of accomplishment’ than the last time. It’s like the little things I did built into one mass.”

 Meanwhile, Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) will finally take home an elusive gold medal in his 10th trip to the World Championships after winning the 77kg title with an 8-0 technical fall over Alex KESSIDIS (SWE).

Lorincz, a world silver medalist the past two years as well as at the London 2012 Olympics, scored three 2-point exposures during two stints in the par terre position to finish off Kessidis in 2:28. 

“I am not the youngest competitor, so I have been waiting very, very long for the first world gold medal, so I’m excited and very happy about that,” said the 32-year-old Lorincz, whose younger brother Viktor won the 87kg silver the previous day. 

“The final is never easy. The Swedish guy earned to right to be here in the final and he did very well up to today.”

Riza KAYAALP (TUR) added a fourth world title to his resume after edging Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB), 3-1, in the 130kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

While Lorincz was celebrating his first world gold, veteran Riza KAYAALP (TUR) was just as excited about winning a fourth, after topping Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB), 3-1, in the 130kg final.

“I’m very happy for this result,” Kayaalp said. “It is something I do as a gift for my nation. The only gold that I am missing is an Olympic gold. I hope to win that next year.” 

Dating back to 2009, Kayaalp’s collection also includes two world silvers and two bronzes, an Olympic gold and a silver, and nine European golds.

In the bronze medal matches, Iran had a wrestler in all three weight classes and came away with two victories.

Up-and-coming Alireza NEJATI (IRI) came back from a 5-0 deficit to forge out a 7-5 victory at 60kg over Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB), the 2018 world silver medalist at 63kg. The other bronze went to Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ), who thrilled the home crowd with a 10-0 technical fall over Lenur TEMIROV (UKR).

Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) captured his second career world bronze medal with a 9-6 win over Karapet CHALYAN (ARM). (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Asian champion Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) won a close encounter with Karapet CHALYAN (ARM), holding on for a 9-6 victory at 77kg, while Jalgasbay BURDIMURATOV (UZB) denied the host nation another bronze by edging Ashkat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ) 3-1

The third Iranian, Amir GHASEMI (IRI) was disqualified for a third caution while trailing 8-0 in the second period at 130kg against ageless Heiki NABI (EST), who now has five world medals---including two golds---in 11 trips to the worlds. Iakobi KAJAIA (GEO) defeated Eduard POPP (GER), 5-0, for the other bronze.

In the team standings, Russia was unable to match its six golds from Budapest 2018, but still comfortably topped the standings with 132 points after capturing two golds and three silvers.

Uzbekistan, with a silver, two bronzes and two fifth places, finished second at 90. Georgia, which had two champions and a bronze medalist, was third with 79, just edging Iran with 75. 

Iran national team coach Aziz NAGHOUSI said he was neither happy nor sad at missing out on the top three, noting it was quite an improvement from the 11th-place finish in Budapest. He also pointed out that nine of the team members were competing at their first world championships, and six of them are under 23. 

“Our coach said finishing third would be good, but I think fourth is better,” Naghousi said. “We must work harder and harder.” 

Olympic spot secured, Mukaida now gets chance to avenge loss to Pak in 53kg final
In the women’s semifinals that started the night session, two-time world champion Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN) eased to a victory at 53kg that clinched a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and earned her a chance to avenge a recent loss. 

Mukaida, the 2015 and 2018 world champion at 55kg who dropped to the Olympic weight of 53kg, scored a pair of first-period takedowns and that’s all she needed for a 4-0 victory over Maria PREVOLARAKI (GRE).

“My movement wasn’t very good, but I kept my focus up to the end and I was determined to win,” Mukaida said.  

Awaiting in the final will be PAK Yong Mi (PRK), who dealt Mukaida a stunning defeat in the final at the Asian Championships in April in Xi’an, China, scoring a takedown in the final seconds for a 4-3 win.

Like Fumita, Mukaida clinched a berth for herself at Tokyo 2020 by making the final, but said that was not her only objective.

“I secured [the place] in the Olympics, but I can’t be satisfied with just that,” Mukaida said. “I have one more match tomorrow, and I want to get revenge and win the title and go home with a smile on my face.”

Pak earned her shot at a world gold by defeating 2018 world bronze medalist PANG Qianyu (CHN) by 12-2 technical fall. Trailing 2-0 in the second period, Pak scored a takedown, secured a lace lock and whipped off five straight rolls to end the match in 4:48.

Mariya STADNIK (AZE) will be making her fifth appearance in the world finals when she wrestles Alina VUC (ROU) on Wednesday night. She'll look to add a second world title to her resume and first since 2009. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In a high-profile semifinal at 50kg between medalists at both the Rio 2016 and Budapest 2018, Mariya STADNIK (AZE) held on for a 6-4 win over SUN Yanan (CHN), who had stunned Yuki IRIE (JPN) in a 13-12 thriller in the quarterfinals.

Stadnik, the runner-up at Budepest 2018 to Yui SUSAKI (JPN), will get a chance to add to her lone world gold medal---won a decade ago in 2009---when she faces Alina VUC (ROU).

Yuc rallied from a 6-0 deficit to beat Valentina ISLAMOVA BRIK (KAZ) 6-6 on criteria.

In the non-Olympic weights, 2015 world junior champion Nanami IRIE (JPN), Yuki’s younger sister, made the final in her senior debut by routing Marina SEDNEVA (KAZ) by 10-0 technical fall. In the other semifinal, Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) edged Bediha GUN (TUR) 6-4.

At 72kg, London 2012 Olympic gold medalist and Rio 2016 bronze medalist Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) continued her quest toward a second career world title when she swept aside Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ) by 10-0 technical fall. 

Aiming to halt the powerful Russian will be European champion Alina MAKHYNIA (UKR), a 7-0 winner over Paliha PALIHA (CHN) in the other semifinal.

Day 4 results


60kg (39 entries)
Gold – Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) df. Sergey EMELIN (RUS), 10-5
Bronze – Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ) df. Lenur TEMIROV (UKR) by TF, 10-0, 3:17 
Bronze – Alireza NEJATI (IRI) df. Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB), 7-5 

77kg (38 entries)
Gold – Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) df. Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) by TF, 8-0, 2:28 
Bronze –Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) df. Karapet CHALYAN (ARM), 9-6
Bronze – Jalgasbay BURDIMURATOV (UZB) df. Ashkat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ), 3-1

130kg (31 entries)
Gold – Riza KAYAALP (TUR) df. Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB), 3-1 
Bronze –Heiki NABI (EST) df. Amir GHASEMI (IRI) by Disq., 4:35 (8-0)
Bronze – Iakobi KAJAIA (GEO) df. Eduard POPP (GER), 5-0

Women’s Wrestling
50kg (29 entries)

Semifinal – Alina VUC (ROU) df. Valentina ISLAMOVA BRIK (KAZ), 6-6 
Semifinal – Mariya STADNIK (AZE) df. SUN Yanan (CHN), 6-4 

53kg (30 entries)
Semifinal – Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN) df. Maria PREVOLARAKI (GRE), 4-0
Semifinal – PAK Yong Mi (PRK) df. PANG Qianyu (CHN) by TF, 12-2, 4:48

55kg (18 entries)
Semifinal – Nanami IRIE (JPN) df. Marina SEDNEVA (KAZ) by TF, 10-0, 3:56 
Semifinal – Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) df. Bediha GUN (TUR), 6-4

72kg (12 entries)
Semifinal – Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) df. Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ) by TF, 10-0, 5:00 
Semifinal – Alina MAKHYNIA (UKR) df. Paliha PALIHA (CHN), 7-0 


Sadulaev Still Reigns Supreme at 97kg with Win over Sharifov; Yazdani Regains 86kg Crown

By Ken Marantz

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Sept. 22) --- Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) wasn’t surprised that his opponent in the final wasn’t the one everyone expected. He just went out and showed again he could dominate whoever stood between him and another gold medal.

Sadulaev captured his second straight world title and fourth overall with a rock-solid 4-o victory over Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE) in the freestyle 97kg final to bring the curtain down on the Nur-Sultan World Championships.

The victory establishes Sadulaev as the one to beat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he will look to add to the 86kg gold he won at Rio 2016.

This year’s World Championships served as the first qualifier for Tokyo 2020, with the top six finishers in each of the Olympic weight classes securing berths for their country.

The pretournament hype at 97kg revolved around a potential rematch between Sadulaev and Kyle SNYDER (USA) of the 2018 final in Budapest, which the Russian won to avenge a loss to the American the previous year in Paris.

Asked if he regretted not facing Snyder this time, Sadulaev replied, “No, because the most important final is still waiting for us, the Olympic Games.”

Sharifov, a former Olympic champion in his own right, spoiled the party in Nur-Sultan by beating Snyder in the semifinals.

Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) shutout fellow Olympic champion Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 4-0, in the 97kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

“In our weight category, there are so many wrestlers with many titles,” Sadulaev said. “Even in the final, I met with an Olympic champion. His technique is very good. I wasn’t surprised that Sharifov reached the final because all wrestlers have equal chances.”

In the final---a battle between natives of the wrestling hotbed of Dagestan, a Russian republic situated on the Caspian Sea---Sadulaev gained a point with Sharifov on the activity clock, then added a single-leg takedown just before the first period ended.

In the second period, a stepout for Sadulaev was the lone point as the powerful Russian kept his Azeri opponent at bay.

Sadulaev said he never imagined himself winning the title before stepping on the mat. 

“I never think like that,” he said. “I know situations when sportsman becomes a champion in their mind, then they don’t have good result.”

Sadulaev said this gold will be special because of the warm reception he received in the former Soviet republic from the crowd at Barys Arena.

“I will keep this championship in my memory for a long time because the organization was of the highest degree and I was surprised that I have so many fans in Kazakhstan,” he said. 

“Even when I met with the Kazakh wrestler, I saw that many Kazakh people supported me.”

Sadulaev’s victory topped off a dominant tournament by Russia, which ran away with the team title with 190 points after medaling in all but one weight class  (125kg) and coming away with five of the 10 golds. 

Host Kazakhstan had no champions, but enough wrestlers in the medal matches to finish second with 103 points, while the United States edged Iran by 1 point for third place with 94 after each added a gold and a bronze on the final day. 

Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) won his second world title after Deepak PUNIA (IND) was forced to withdraw from the gold-medal match due to injury (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Iran’s title on Sunday came without a match, although Deepak PUNIA (IND) would have been hard-pressed to prevent Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) in the 86kg final from regaining the world title he won in 2017 after finishing third last year.

Yazdani was declared the winner when Punia defaulted due to a left ankle injury suffered in his opening match. While Yazdani would have preferred having to work for the victory, it capped a dominant run through the field in which he won three matches by fall or technical fall. 

“The level of this competition is high,” Yazdani said. “But I trained very hard and I was given the opportunity and the chance to win.”Yazdani, the Rio 2016 gold medalist at 74kg, minced no words in stating his determination to earn a second Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

“After a few days rest, I will start to become more prepared and get the best medal in the Olympics,” he said. “This medal was to raise the flag of my country and I want to raise the flag at the next Olympics and make the Iranian people happy.”  

Kyle DAKE (USA) defeated Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE) for the second year in a row in the 79kg finals. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

In the non-Olympic weight of 79kg, Kyle DAKE (USA) repeated his victory from the Budapest 2018 final over Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE), this time coming away with a 4-1 victory for his second world title.

“I did a lot better job this time,” said Dake, who won 2-0 a year ago. “I moved my feet, which has been a really big focus of mine this past eight months. I’m glad to see it’s coming together.”

Dake went on the offensive from the outset and picked up a pair of stepout points in the first period. He padded the lead in the second period with a single-leg takedown before Hasanov, with his back to wall, finally began launching attacks.

“There were some positions where he got in on my leg at the end, and he would never shoot if it was 0-0,” Dake said. 

“I knew I could not leave it in the hands of the refs. I couldn’t leave it up to cautions, I needed to go out and execute. I got the first pushout, second pushout, takedown and that was the difference.”

In the final minute, Hasanov’s efforts only resulted in a pair of stepouts as Dake forced stalemates from the Azeri’s takedown attempts to come up golden. 

“I was hoping they would have let those scrambles go a little bit longer,” Dake said. “I feel I was ready to score a couple of times, but it is what it is.” 

It was the latest major accomplishment for the 28-year-old father of two, who became the first wrestler in U.S. collegiate history to win four titles in four different weight classes, when he did it while at the Ivy League’s Cornell University.

“It’s a testament to the way I live, the way my wife and family support me, my friends, coaches, teammates, sponsors---I couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “It’s been a crazy road this past year to say the least, and I’m just really excited I was able to get it done again.

Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) scored a trio of takedowns and defeated Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS), 6-1, in the 61kg finals. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

In the final at 61kg, also a non-Olympic weight, European silver medalist Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) relegated 2018 world U23 champion Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS) to second place by scoring three takedowns in the second period for a 6-1 win.

In the bronze-medal matches, Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) became the first-ever world freestyle medalist from Switzerland when he chalked up three stepouts to defeat Carlos IZQUIERDO (COL) 3-1 at 86kg. 

History was going to be made regardless of the outcome as Colombia also has never had a freestyle medalist. Switzerland had previously won one world bronze each in the other styles---Kurt RUSTERHOLZ (SUI) in Greco-Roman 87kg in 1953, and Inge KRASSER (SUI) at women’s 57kg in 1989. 

Artur NAIFANOV (RUS) won the other bronze at 86kg with a 6-0 victory over Myles AMINE (SMR), the U.S.-born wrestler who clinched the first-ever Olympic berth for tiny San Marino, the birthplace of his grandfather.

At 97kg, Snyder gained some consolation from his semifinal loss to Sharifov when he grinded out a 5-0 win over Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) at 97kg to add a world bronze to his collection of two golds and a silver. 

Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) captured a bronze medal with an 8-5 win over Alisher YERGALI (KAZ). (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) became the first wrestler to win a world medal while competing for the newly named nation of North Macedonia when he rallied to defeat Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) 8-5.

Host Kazakhstan came up short in its other shot for a medal before the home crowd when Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) edged Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ) 3-2 at 79kg.

Gadzhi NABIEV (RUS) built up an 8-point lead against Rashid KURBANOV (UZB) and held on for a 8-3 victory for the other 79kg bronze.

Asian bronze medalist Rahul AWARE (IND) became the 10th wrestler in Indian history to win a world freestyle medal when he defeated Tyler GRAFF (USA) 11-4 at 61kg.

Aware, nursing a 4-2 lead, scored a takedown with a slick duck under, then padded his lead with a pair of 2-point exposures. 

Two days earlier, Kumar RAVI (IND) became the eighth Indian medalist when he won a bronze at 57kg, and Punia become No. 9 when he was assured of at least a silver by making the 86kg final.

The other 61kg bronze went to Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI), an 8-0 winner over Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB).

Day 9 Results


61kg (25 entries)
Gold – Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) df. Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS), 6-1
Bronze – Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI) df. Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB), 8-0 
Bronze – Rahul AWARE (IND) df. Tyler GRAFF (USA), 11-4

79kg (23 entries)
Gold – Kyle DAKE (USA) df. Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE), 4-1
Bronze – Gadzhi NABIEV (RUS) df. Rashid KURBANOV (UZB), 8-3
Bronze – Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) df. Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ), 3-2

86kg (43 entries)
Gold – Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) df. Deepak PUNIA (IND) by Inj. Def. 
Bronze – Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) df. Carlos IZQUIERDO (COL), 3-0 
Bronze – Artur NAIFANOV (RUS) df. Myles AMINE (SMR), 6-0

97kg (26 entries)
Gold – Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) df. Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 4-0 
Bronze – Kyle SNYDER (USA) df. Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), 5-0 
Bronze – Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) df. Alisher YERGALI (KAZ), 8-5