Tokyo Olympic Games – Top men’s freestyle wrestling contenders to win gold

7 KG – Uguev stands alone

Top seeds:
#1: Stevan Andria MICIC (SRB) (ranked #20)
#2: Zavur UGUEV (RUS)
#3: Suleyman ATLI (TUR)
#4: Kumar RAVI (IND)

Top ranked competitors:
#1: Zavur UGUEV (RUS)
#2: Suleyman ATLI (TUR)
#5: Kumar RAVI (IND)

The landscape of 57 kgs has not changed much since 2019. The two-time reigning World champion Zavur Uguev has won five-straight tournaments, in increasingly dominant fashion. He crushed #2 Atli by technical fall in the 2019 World finals, but had relatively close semifinal and quarterfinal wins over #5 Ravi and #8 Erdenebat. Since then, Uguev won the 2020 and 2021 Russian National tournaments over #3 Mongush and #4 Tuskaev.

Zavir Uguev celebrates a gold medal win at the 2018 World Wrestling Championships.
Zavir Uguev celebrates a gold medal win at the 2018 World Wrestling Championships.
 Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

Uguev is extremely patient on his feet, waiting on his opponent’s pressure to hit explosive super-duck entries in the blink of an eye. His skill in par-terre is what sets him apart from the field, as Uguev can blow open a match with a series of gut wrenches from the finishing position off his duck-under. Uguev’s last loss was an upset at the hands of Azerbaijan’s Amiraslanov, who will not be represented in this field.

This feels like one of the easiest weights to predict at the top – Uguev rolls.

65 KG – Familiar faces run it back

Top seeds:
#1: Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS)
#2: Bajrang BAJRANG (IND) (ranked #12)
#3: Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) (ranked #14)
#4: Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN)

Top ranked competitors:
#1: Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS)
#2: Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM)
#4: Ismail MUSUKAEV(HUN)
#5: Takuto OTOGURO (JPN)
#6: Haji ALIYEV (AZE)

At one point the strongest weight in the world, 65 kg briefly fell to pieces at the 2020 Individual World Cup. The rivalry between 2019 World champion Gadzhimurad Rashidov and three-time World champion Haji Aliyev continued early in the second round of the tournament, but an explosive start was cut short by a serious Rashidov knee injury.

Gadzhimurad Rashidov competing at the 2018 World Wrestling Championships.
Gadzhimurad Rashidov competing at the 2018 World Wrestling Championships.
Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

Soon after, 2019 World bronze medalist Ismail Musukaev tangled with Aliyev, defeating him – in an incredible match. Musukaev went on to lose in the finals to the young, surging contender from Armenia, Vazgen Tevanyan. Aliyev took bronze, but not without suffering an injury himself. In the fallout of that tournament, two of the top contenders for the Olympic title were badly injured.

Since then, hope has been restored. Rashidov comfortably won the 2021 Russian Nationals over #3 Zagir Shakhiev, and looked healthy running through the outmatched field at the Sassari in June.

Aliyev returned at the Olympic Qualifier, punching his ticket with a runner-up finish to Tevanyan. Musukaev qualified via his finish at 2019 Worlds, but has looked terrible ever since the World Cup. He failed to place at the European Championship or the Ziolkowski ranking tournament.

At 2019 Worlds, returning champion Takuto Otoguro took out Tevanyan before being upset by Rashidov in a frustrating performance. He defeated Haji Aliyev on the backside, but dropped the bronze medal match to Musukaev. He has been undefeated since, most notably notching wins over #12 ranked Bajrang Punia.

Aside from Tevanyan’s rise to contention, the medal and title field is identical to 2019 Worlds. Rashidov, Otoguro, and Aliyev have the best shot at gold.

74 KG – Pound-for-pound elites will clash

Top seeds:
#2: Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) (unranked)
#3: Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS)
#4: Mostafa Mohabbali HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) (ranked #20)

Top ranked competitors:
#1: Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS)
#2: Kyle DAKE (USA)
#3: Magomedkhabib KADIMAGOMEDOV (BLR)

Understandably, everyone’s attention is on the potential clash between two-time World champions Sidakov and Dake. It’s #1 vs. #2, it’s Russia vs. USA, and it’s two top five pound-for-pound elites meeting for the first time. Dake is riding a three-year undefeated streak, one that contains two World titles and wins over the great Jordan Burroughs.

At one point, Zaurbek Sidakov had a claim to the pound-for-pound #1 spot. He took out numerous multiple-time World champions like Khetik Tsabolov, Frank Chamizo, and Jordan Burroughs on his dominant reign of terror. However, Sidakov was upset by Tsabolov in October 2020 at Russian Nationals. Tsabolov was then upset by Razambek Zhamalov, and the pecking order in Russia, and internationally, was thrown on its head. Sidakov did not take long to return to form, defeating Zhamalov at the next Russian National tournament. Tsabolov transferred to compete for Serbia, then failed to qualify for the Olympics.

Kyle Dake at the 2021 Olympic Team Trials.
Kyle Dake at the 2021 Olympic Team Trials.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Where does this leave two-time World champion and Olympic bronze medalist Frank Chamizo? Since taking silver to Sidakov at 2019 Worlds, it’s been a rollercoaster. He defeated World champion Gazimagomedov at the 2020 European Championship, then lost to Zhamalov at the 2020 Individual World Cup. He defeated Jordan Burroughs to win the Matteo Pellicone in March, then lost to World bronze medalist Taimuraz Salkazanov at Euros the next month. Chamizo participated in one final ranking tournament in Poland, defaulting in the finals after earning his #1 seed. At the moment, it seems that Chamizo can still hang with the best in the world, but is vulnerable to taking losses that could keep him from even earning a medal.

The dark horse contender, to medal at least, is Russian transfer Kadimagomedov. Now representing Belarus, Kadimagomedov looked phenomenal in taking out World and Olympic bronze medalist Soener Demirtas, as well as #4 Salkazanov. He may not be a true gold medal threat, but he could very well push any man in the bracket to the brink.

86 KG – It’s 2018 again

Top seeds:
#2: Deepak PUNIA (IND) (unranked)
#3: Myles Nazem AMINE (SMR)
#4: Artur NAIFONOV (RUS)

Top ranked competitors:
#1: David TAYLOR (USA)
#3: Artur NAIFONOV (RUS)
#7: Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB)
#12: Myles AMINE (SMR)

2016 Olympic champion Hassan Yazdanicharati is set to challenge for another title. In his way will be a man he has never defeated, the American David Taylor. The two first met at the 2017 World Cup, where Taylor broke the great Iranian and pinned him. Their highly anticipated rematch went down in the very first round of the 2018 World Championship. Both men had made adjustments and Yazdanicharati improved on his first performance, but ultimately the pace and scrambling ability of Taylor made the difference. Taylor went on to win the World title with ease.


History of Karate

Karate (空手) (/kəˈrɑːti/; Japanese pronunciation: [kaɾate] (About this soundlisten); Okinawan pronunciation: [kaɽati]) is a martial

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