Monday vs Gadzhikanov is the new Bout of the Week on USA Wrestling Audio Video website

By Gary Abbott | March 10, 2006, 5:46 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 Kenny Monday against Nasyr Gadzhikanov match at 74 kg/163 lbs. at the 1989 World Grand Championships in Pittsburgh, Pa.

By 1989, Kenny Monday had already established himself as one of the world's elite wrestling stars. Along with fellow Oklahoma State legend John Smith, Monday had already won Olympic and World titles for the United States and was competing at the top of his game.

Monday wrestled in one the United States' most successful weight divisions at 163 pounds. He followed a long line of great American stars at the weight which included Wayne Wells, Stan Dziedzic, Lee Kemp and Dave Schultz.

A high school star from Tulsa, Okla., Kenny went to Oklahoma State Univ., where he became a star for the Cowboys. Monday had a major college rivalry with Nate Carr of Iowa State, who defeated Monday in the NCAA championship finals in 1982 and 1983. In 1984, as a senior, Monday won the NCAA title. Later, Monday and Carr would be teammates at different weight classes at the 1988 Olympic Games.

Monday competed internationally in a weight class which featured World and Olympic champion Dave Schultz, and for a few seasons, he was unable to defeat the experienced Schultz. However, in 1988, Monday turned the corner in their rivalry, winning the U.S. Nationals then beating Schultz in the Olympic Team Trials in Pensacola, Fla. At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, with Schultz in his corner as one of his coaches, Monday went on to win the Olympic gold medal. He beat World champion Adlan Varaev of the Soviet Union in the gold-medal match scoring the winning points on an overtime takedown.

In 1989, Monday competed in the World Championships for the first time, and kept a iron lock on the world's top spot. Olympic champion Arsen Fadzaev of the Soviet Union decided to move up a division and reached the world gold-medal finals at 74 kg/163 lbs., but Monday was able to defeat the superstar Fadzaev for the World title.

Later in 1989, USA Wrestling developed an exciting new competition called the World Grand Championships, where a team of U.S. stars battled the best wrestlers in the world in challenge matches, with prize money awarded. Working with hosts in Pittsburgh, Pa., including sponsor Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, a total of $65,000 in prize money was offered to the participants. The competition was held the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, in a major arena, the Civic Arena.

In the Grand Championships, Monday was matched up with a young Soviet, Nasyr Gadzhikanov, the 1989 European champion who was in his early 20's, a rising star on the team. He was an Espoir World Cup champion and Espoir World silver medalist and won a bronze medal at the 1988 Freestyle World Cup. It was one of 11 matches on the program that night, which featured many of the greatest wrestling stars in the world.

The athletes had different styles, with Monday having great speed, explosiveness and passion. Gadzhikanov was more of a power wrestler, who used solid position, great defense and some impressive technique to defeat his opponents.

Monday went on to defeat Gadzhikanov in the bout, 7-0. For winning his match, Monday was awarded $4,000 for winning his bout. However, at the end of the meet, Monday was also selected as the Outstanding Wrestler, with an additional prize of $5,000 and a special trophy awarded. That evening in Pittsburgh, Monday thrilled the crowd and took home $9,000.

Both of these athletes continued to wrestle for many more years. Neither were able to win a World or Olympic gold medal after this match, although both made a major impact on international wrestling during the next decade.

Monday ran into a challenge within the United States in 1990, when Rob Koll charged through the field and beat Monday and the others in the division to make the 1990 World Championships team. Monday came back in 1991 to reclaim the top spot on the U.S. World Team, and won a silver medal at the World Championships, losing to the talented Amir Reza Khadem of Iran in the gold-medal match. During the 1991 World meet, Monday faced Gadzhikanov where they battled to a double-disqualification, as neither could score to win the match. Monday won by pin in the next match, which put him in the gold-medal finals.

Monday triumphed in the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials, making his second Olympic team. Prior to the event, he suffered a severe elbow injury which almost kept him out of the tournament. Competing with basically only one arm, Monday did not surrender a point in the entire Olympics until the finals match, where he lost a 1-0 bout to Korea's Park Jang-Soon. The silver medal was Monday's second career Olympic medal, putting him in a very elite class of American greats.

In 1993, Monday retired from the sport, and his old rival, Dave Schultz returned to the No. 1 spot on the U.S. team. For the next three years, Schultz represented the USA at the World Championships. In late 1995, Monday announced that he was making a comeback for the U.S. team, and a rematch against Schultz was greatly anticipated. However, Schultz was murdered in January 1996, and that showdown did not occur. Monday went on to make the 1996 Olympic team, beating four-time NCAA champion Pat Smith from his beloved Oklahoma State in the Olympic Trials finals. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga., Monday advanced to the semifinal rounds, where he faced the current World champion, a very young Bouvaisa Saitiev of Russia, who defeated Monday. He lost his next match to Takuya Ota of Japan, eliminating him from medal contention and placed sixth. It was his last international wrestling tournament.

Monday remains very active in wrestling, working with a strong youth wrestling program in the Dallas, Texas area called Team Monday. He is also a coach with one of the nation's top prep school teams on the high school level, Bishop Lynch High School, which placed second in the National Prep School Championships this year.

Gadzhikanov went on to be the No. 1 Soviet wrestler in his weight class for a number of years, but never captured the gold medal. He was a World silver medalist in 1990 and a World bronze medalist in 1991. Russia did not take him to the 1992 Olympics, however, choosing to enter Magomed Gadziev instead, who placed fourth. Gadzhikanov had one more World Championships appearance for Russia, placing fifth at the 1994 World Championships. His last international tournament representing Russia was the 1995 European Championships, where he was third,

He did not compete at a major World-level event for five more years, when he made a comeback competing for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He entered four Olympic qualifying tournaments, and won gold medals in two of them, qualifying for the 2000 Olympics Games at 76 kg/167.5 lbs. In his final international appearance, Gadzhikanov placed seventh in the Sydney Olympic Games, his only Olympic appearance.

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 Chris Bono vs. Eric Larkin men's freestyle match in the finals of the 2006 Dave Schultz Memorial International Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.