Murtazaliev vs Botaev is the new Bout of the Week on USA Wrestling Audio Video website

By Gary Abbott | Feb. 15, 2006, 5:06 p.m. (ET)
USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on Audio/Video website .

The feature this week is the 2006 Makhach Murtazaliev vs. Zaur Botaev men's freestyle match at the Ivan Yarygin Memorial Golden Grand Prix held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. The match featured two outstanding wrestlers from Russia, who were battling for national pride as well as prize money in one of the most respected tournaments in the world.

This match has been placed on the's new Audio/Video website, which was the former USA Wrestling Member's Only website. The new website has been redesigned and reformatted and was launched today. It is an exciting upgrade that will better serve the wrestling community and provides cutting-edge technology.

Makhach Murtazaliev is from the new generation of talented Russian wrestlers who are continuing the strong wrestling legacy in their nation. Winning gold medals is something that Murtazaliev has done throughout his short but successful international freestyle career.

Murtazaliev made his international debut at the 2000 Cadet European Championships, competing at 42 kg (92.5 lbs.), where he won the gold medal. He returned to the Cadet European Championships again the next year, moving up to 54 kg (119 lbs.), where he repeated as the champion.

His first World Championships test came two years later at the 2003 Junior World Championships, where he captured the gold medal at 60 kg/132 lbs. He moved up to the Senior level in 2004, at the age of 20, where he captured the European Championships at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

Although his weight class was loaded with talented veteran wrestlers, Murtazaliev was chosen by Russia to compete at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The Russian coaches knew they had something special, and the Athens Games was a chance for him to shine. This was an athlete who had the skill and confidence to be something special.

Murtazaliev won a challenging pool in Athens, beating 2000 Olympic champion Ali Reza Dabir of Iran, then tough Artur Tavkazakhov of Uzbekistan to advance. In the quarterfinals, he beat Omer Cubucki of Turkey by a solid 6-0 score.

His semifinal opponent was Jamill Kelly of the United States, who had competed at the 2003 World Championships but did not place. Kelly was also wrestling well in Athens, and their battle was very closely contested. The match went down to one move on a scramble, and when officials went to the videotape, the points went to Kelly for a 3-1 victory in overtime. Veteran Elbrus Tedeev of Ukraine went on to win the gold, Kelly took the silver, and Murtazaliev captured the bronze medal.

The mark of a champion is to return from disappointment and come back stronger in the next year. Murtazaliev got the chance, when Russia entered him at the 2005 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Murtazaliev wrestled with skill and intensity, and captured the World gold medal, showing that the promise he had displayed in Athens had been turned into a championship performance.

Zaur Botaev is an example of the kind of depth that Russia has in its wrestling system. An athlete who has proven that he competes at the World class level, Botaev's biggest challenge is to make Russia's team and prove what he can do at the major events.

Botaev had an impressive age-group career, representing Russia at the European and World levels. In 1994, he won a Cadet World gold medal competing at 40 kg/88 lbs. Four years later, Botaev returned to major competition on the Junior level, winning gold medals for Russia at both the 1998 Junior European Championship and the 1998 Junior World Championships, competing at 65 kg/143 lbs. Russia sent Botaev back to both events in 1999, and although he won the Junior European gold medal again, he dropped to eieght in the Junior World Championships.

Russia had enough faith in Botaev in 2000 that he was entered in two Olympic Qualification Tournaments at 69 kg/152 lbs. Botaev did his job for his nation, winning a gold medal at one event and a silver medal at the other, helping Russia to qualify to compete in the division at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. However, when the Olympics arrived, Russia entered Arsen Gitinov, who won a silver medal, losing to Canada's Daniel Igali in the finals.

After winning a World Military title at 63 kg/138.75 lbs in 2001, Botaev settled into the new 66 kg/145.5 lbs. division in 2002, and became Russia's top wrestler at the weight that year. He captured the European gold medal, then followed up with a bronze medal at the World Championships in Tehran, Iran. For most nations, that performance might have earned a repeat opportunity at the world level. However, Russia entered Irbek Farniev at the 2003 World Championships where he won the gold medal. In 2004, it was young Makhach Murtazaliev who went to the Olympic Games, where he captured the bronze. Botaev remains on the mats, working for another chance at the big show.

As is often the case, the annual Ivan Yarygin Memorial Championships is a showcase of great Russian wrestlers, not only competing against other countrymen, but often some of the top competitors from around the world. Named after the late Ivan Yarygin, the tournament displays the pride that Russia takes in its freestyle wrestling. Yarygin won World and Olympic titles, served as the Soviet Union's freestyle wrestling coach, then was the president of the Russian Wrestling Federation when he was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1997.

In 2006, FILA announced a series of Golden Grand Prix Tournaments, where prize money would be awarded. The Yarygin Memorial was the first of the official Golden Grand Prix Tournaments in freestyle, the start of a new tradition in wrestling.

The 66 kg/145.5 lbs. may have been the best in the field, at least in regards to Russian entries. Three past World champions were entered in the tournament, Murtazaliev, Farniev and Alan Dudaev, the 2005 World Champion at 60 kg/132 lbs. who moved up in weight to enter in this division in Krasnoyarsk.

Murtazaliev's road to the finals was against a number of foreign competitors, who he beat one after the other. His first win was over Cho Du Su of Korea, 6-0, 6-0, then Viktor Belokopytniy of Ukraine, 3-0, 6-0. In the semifinals, Murtazaliev beat Bek Chzihn Kuk of Korea, 2-0, 2-0.

Botaev had to face a number of his talented athletes on his side of the bracket. He defeated two of the Russian World champions in the draw, stopping Alan Dudaev in the first round, 4-0, 1-0, then Irbek Farniev, 3-0, 2-0 in the semifinals. He also beat two international competitors, Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan, 1-0, 1-3, 1-0 and Batzorich Buyanzhav of Mongolia, 1-0, 1-0.

In the championship finals, it was Murtazaliev who retained his edge over the rest of the field, defeating Botaev by a 1-0, 1-0 margin. This loaded weight class promises additional drama in the future.

This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history.

Posted in the archive section of the Members Only web page is the 2006 Adam Saitiev vs. Shirvani Muradov men's freestyle match at the Ivan Yarygin Memorial Golden Grand Prix held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.