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World Championships preview in men's freestyle at 65 kg/143 lbs.

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | Aug. 02, 2017, 9:54 a.m. (ET)

Photo: Zain Retherford celebrates his victory at the U.S. World Team Trials. Photo by Tony Rotundo,

Video: Zain Retherford at U.S. World Team camp

Date of competition: Saturday, August 26

The evidence post-Olympic turnover is no more prevalent than it is in the 65 kg/143 lbs. World Championships field.

The top-five placers from the 2016 Olympic Games in this weight class have either elected to move up to 70 kg/154 lbs. or will miss the competition entirely. Moreover, the highest ranked athlete in the current UWW World Rankings expected to participate in Paris is slotted in at No. 7.

Olympic champion and World No. 1 Soslan Ramonov of Russia was the toast of 65 kg in 2016. He ran through the bracket in Rio de Janeiro with little challenge. However, Ramonov has not competed since, and is not expected to compete in Paris. He was awarded the No. 3 seed for the Worlds based solely on his Olympic outing.

With Ramonov out, the next in line appeared to be World No. 3 Ilyas Bekbulatov, who claimed the European championship and gold at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix this year. Even with Bekbulatov’s success this year, indications are that Russia Nationals champion Alan Gogaev will represent to powerhouse nation at the World Championships.

Azerbaijan finds itself without its top star at 65 kg, 2012 Olympic champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Toghrul Asgarov, due to a one-year suspension stemming from a doping violation. Replacing Asgarov will be World No. 10 Magomed Muslimov, who has won three international medals in 2017.

World No. 2 Frank Chamizo of Italy, World No. 4 Ikhtiyor Navruzov of Uzbekistan and World No. 9 Mandakhnaran Ganzorig of Mongolia are all expected to compete at 70 kg in Paris. Chamizo and Navruzov won bronze medals at last year’s Olympic Games, while Ganzorig finished in fifth place.

Reigning 65 kg Asian champion and current World No. 6, Bajrang of India, is listed as a 61 kg participant for the World Championships.

Adding to the carnage, European silver medalist and World No. 5 Borislav Novachkov appears to have been replaced by 2016 European bronze medalist Nikolay Kurtev on the Bulgarian roster. Novachkov was issued the No. 1 seed at 65 kg by United World Wrestling.

With so much shuffling going on at 65 kg, this leaves us with Iran’s Meysam Nasiri as the highest ranked athlete in the field. Nasiri was a member of Iran’s 2016 Olympic Team, but was ousted in the first round by Novachkov. Since that time, Nasiri has won gold medals at the Takhti Cup and Islamic Solidarity Games. He finished with a bronze medal at the Asian Championships.

European bronze medalist and 2016 Olympian Zurabi Iakobishvili of Georgia will be the highest eligible seeded athlete at 65 kg. He was issued the No. 2 seed by United World Wrestling, but will be bumped up to the top spot due to Ramonov’s absence. In his last outing, World No. 13 Iakobishvili claimed gold at the Waclaw Ziolkowski Memorial.

Puerto Rico’s Franklin Gomez was awarded the No. 4 seed, but would be bumped up to No. 2 assuming Novachkov’s removal. Gomez enters as No. 11 in the World Rankings, with his only international outing since the Olympics coming at the Pan American Championships where he forfeited in the finals to settle for silver. Gomez was a World silver medalist in 2011 and a NCAA champion for Michigan State in 2009.

Cuba boast a pair of World-ranked wrestlers in No. 8 Franklin Maren Castillo and No. 12 Alejandro Valdes Tobier. Maren Castillo was this year’s Pan American champion, but it looks to be the Olympian Valdez Tobier as the Cuban entrant for Worlds.

Slovenia’s David Habat, who boast the No. 14 World ranking, has picked up steam in 2017, largely based on a bronze medal outing at the European Championships. American fans will be familiar with Habat’s work as a NCAA finalist for Edinboro in 2015.

Asian silver medalist Seung-Chul Lee of Korea will make his first World Championships appearance since 2013. He currently sits at No. 15 in the World Rankings.

Although sitting at No. 16 in the World Rankings, Turkey’s Mustafa Kaya possesses serious medal-threat potential. Kaya was the Yasar Dogu champion following an Olympic berth in Rio de Janeiro. He was second at the European Championships last year, and has finished as high as fifth in the World Championships.

Algeria’s Zoheir Iftene was crowned African champion earlier this year, but doesn’t boast much international experience beyond that. He did earn a silver medal at last year’s Mediterranean Championships.

U.S. representative Zain Retherford may be competing at his first World Championships, but his odds of medaling appear as good as any in this weight class. Retherford is well-versed in freestyle, including a Cadet World championship in 2012 and a recent gold-medal win at the Grand Prix of Spain.

Retherford is among the most dominant college wrestlers the U.S. has seen in recent memory. He will enter his senior year at Penn State this fall already owning two NCAA titles, three All-American honors and a Dan Hodge Trophy.

Retherford defeated 2016 Olympian Frank Molinaro in a classic best-of-three series at the U.S. World Team Trials to book his trip to Paris. His tenacity on the mat will be hard to match by the 65 kg field.

This weight category will be contested on the last day of men’s freestyle action, Aug. 26. The tournament will begin at 10 a.m. local time, with finals scheduled for 7 p.m. Paris is situated six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time.

A live stream of the World Championships, as well as brackets for each weight, will be provided to U.S. residents on

UWW World Rankings
1. Soslan Ramonov (Russia)
2. Frank Chamizo (Italy)
3. Ilyas Bekbulatov (Russia)
4. Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan)
5. Borislav Novachkov (Bulgaria)
6. Bajrang Bajrang (India)
7. Meysam Nasiri (Iran)
8. Franklin Maren Castillo (Cuba)
9. Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia)
10. Magomed Muslimov (Azerbaijan)
11. Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico)
12. Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba)
13. Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia)
14. David Habat (Slovenia)
15. Seung-Chul Lee (Korea)
16. Mustafa Kaya (Turkey)
17. George Bucur (Romania)
18. Gor Oganesyan (Ukraine)
19. Selehattin Kilicsallayan (Turkey)
20. Gitinomagomed Gadzhiev (Azerbaijan)

World Championships Seeds
1. Borislav Novachkov (Bulgaria)
2. Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia)
3. Soslan Ramonov (Russia)
4. Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico)

Recent World and Olympic Results
2016 Olympic Games
65 kg/143 lbs. – Gold – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Silver – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Frank Chamizo (Italy); Bronze – Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan); 5th – Frank Molinaro (United States); 5th – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 7th – Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba); 8th – Borislav Novachkov (Bulgaria); 9th – Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico); 10th – Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia)

2015 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold – Frank Chamizo (Italy); Silver – Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan); Bronze – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Bronze – Sayed Mohammadi (Iran); 5th – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 5th – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan); 7th – Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland); 8th – George Bucur (Romania); 9th – Avtandil Kentchadze (Georgia); 10th – Brent Metcalf (United States)

2014 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Silver – Seyed Mohammadi (Iran); Bronze – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); Bronze – Mihail Sava (Moldova); 5th – Azamat Nurkykau (Belarus); 5th – Mustafa Kaya (Turkey); 7th – Daichi Takatani (Japan); 8th – Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico); 9th – George Burcur (Romania); 10th – Magomed Muslimov (Azerbaijan)

2013 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Gold – David Safaryan (Armenia); Silver – Livan Lopez (Cuba); Bronze – Magomed Kurbanaliev (Russia); Bronze – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 5th – Levan Kelekhsashvili (Georgia); 5th - Jin Hyok Kang (Korea); 7th - Saba Bolaghi (Germany); 8th - Haislan Garcia (Canada); 9th - Takahiro Inoue (Japan); 10th - Alexandr Kontoyev (Belarus)