2018 World Championships preview at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 23, 2018, 2:41 p.m. (ET)
Jesse Thielke, at the 2018 Greco-Roman World Team Trials, heads into his third Senior World-level event with confidence. Photo by Austin Bernard.

Dates of competition: Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26

In the creation of the new 10 weight classes for the World Championships in Greco-Roman, the 63 kg weight class was developed, a non-Olympic weight. This has not really been an active weight on the Senior level in Greco, as the previous divisions were at 59 kg and 66 kg. The 59 kg athletes naturally fell into the new 60 kg weight, and the 66 kg wrestlers seem to fit at 67 kg. However, add in the morning weigh-in and multiple-day weigh-ins, and for some wrestlers, the new 63 kg makes perfect sense.

So who will be the first 63 kg Greco-Roman World champion? The field includes no athletes who have won either a gold medal or silver medal at past World or Olympic competitions going back to 2012. Most of the field has never reached a medal match at the Worlds or Olympics.

On paper, the top star expected in Budapest is Elmurat Tasmuradov of Uzbekistan, who owns three World-level bronze medals. He won a 2016 Olympic bronze at 59 kg, a 2014 World bronze at 59 kg and a 2013 World bronze at 60 kg. This year, he won the Asian Championships at 63 kg, but went up to the Olympic 67 kg class for the Asian Games and missed the medals. A two-time Olympian, Tasmuradov has as much international experience as anybody in this field, and a long list of major achievements.

Another 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the field is veteran Stig-Andre Berge of Norway, who also claimed his Olympic medal down at 59 kg. Berge also boasts a 2014 World bronze medal at 59 kg. Berge won a silver medal at the 2018 European Championships at his new weight class. He has tested himself at 67 kg as well this season, but knows he had a legitimate chance to be World champion at 63 kg. He is a rugged wrestler who is always in the battle, which has served him well in the close matches.

Stepan Maranyan of Russia, a 2017 World bronze medalist at 59 kg, seems to be fitting into this new weight class well. He has won gold medals in all three events he has entered at 63 kg this year, including the Russian Nationals and international meets in Georgia and Italy. He was a 2010 Junior World champion and a 2015 European Games champion. Again, this choice of weight gives him a real opportunity to win a World title.

The only other expected entry who has reached a World medal match is Soslan Daurov of Belarus, who placed fifth at the 2015 World Championships at 59 kg. Daurov is coming down in weight, competing at 67 kg much of the season. When he dropped to 63 kg for the Grand Prix of Germany this summer, he won a bronze medal. Daurov, who started his age-group career wrestling for Russia, was a 2015 European Games silver medalist and also has a healthy record of achievement at the Senior level.

The 2018 European champion was Mihai Mihut of Romania, one of the most active wrestlers at the weight class this winter and spring. Mihut also won the 2018 U23 European title at this weight, as well as tournaments in Croatian, Denmark and Estonia. His last two international meets were up at 67 kg, where he failed to medal. A 2015 Junior World bronze medalist, he seemed to be at his best at 63 kg this past year.

2016 Asian silver medalist Urmatbek Amatov of Kyrgyzstan leads the UWW Ranking Series Standings at 63 kg, with bronze medals at two other ranking events, the Grand Prix of Hungary and the Tahkti Cup in Iran. A 2010 Youth Olympic Games champion, Amatov will be entering his first Senior World Championships.

Jesse Thielke of the USA is a legitimate medal contender at this weight class, not only based upon past experience but like the other top challengers, he competes very aggressively at this weight level. He has been in the top 10 in both of his World-level experiences, taking ninth at the 2016 Olympics at 59 kg and eighth in the 2013 World Championships at 60 kg. Thieke wrestled in four Junior World Championships in his age-group years, coming home with a Junior World bronze in 2012, so World events are very comfortable for him. He has been at 63 kg at three international events this year, winning medals in two of them. When Thielke gets on a roll, he can put together a great performance.

It is pretty hard to find expected entries at 63 kg who have had any top 10 finishes, but one of them is Taleh Mammadov of Azerbaijan, who was seventh in the 2017 World Championships and 10th in 2014, both at 59 kg. Mammadov won gold medals at two events this season at 63 kg, the Ukrainian Memorial International and the Vehbi Emre in Turkey. Lenur Temirov of Ukraine is another top 10 finisher at Worlds, with an eighth place at 60 kg back in 2010. Termirov also competed in the 2012 Olympics and was fifth in the 2013 European Senior Championships.

2016 and 2018 European bronze medalist Donior Islamov of Moldova brings a wealth of experience to Budapest. He has competed in four previous Senior World Championships. Back in 2012, he was a University World champion. Like some of the others, he has spent time at both the 59 kg and the 66 kg weight class.

Hassan Hassan Ahmed Mohamed of Egypt is among the young talents pushing for success at this weight class. He was a 2017 Junior World bronze medalist, and won African titles at the Junior and Cadet levels. He has shown the ability to medal at major Senior events at 63 kg, taking a silver medal at the respected Grand Prix of Hungary and a bronze medal at the tune-up event in Poland, the Pytlasinski Memorial. These successes have him ranked No. 2 in the UWW Ranking Series standings.

Rahman Bilici of Turkey was a 2012 Olympian, a two-time Junior World champion and three-time Junior World finalist. Nikolay Vichev of Bulgaria, a 2012 Junior World bronze medalist, was fifth at the European Championships this year. Lasha Mariamidze of Georgia competed at the 2017 Senior Worlds, and won two international medals at 63 kg this season. Krisztian Vancza of Hungary is a past Cadet World silver medalist, and was third at the European Junior Championships this year. Michal Tracz of Poland, a two-time Military World medalist, is an experienced competitor.

There is one big and exciting opportunity at 63 kg for athletes to head home with either a World title or a World medal. Although there are some favorites, don’t be surprised to learn some new names this year at this weight.

Note: TheMat.com will be posting weight class previews for the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28.

RECENT WORLD RESULTS

63 kg is a new weight class for Senior Greco-Roman. There are no World or Olympic results at this specific weight class going back to 2012.

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Urmatbek Amatov (Kyrgyzstan)
2 Hassan Hassan Ahmed Mohamed (Egypt)
3 Kaly Suliamanov (Kyrgyzstan)
4 Mihai Radu Mihut (Romania)
5 Stig-Andre Berge (Norway)
6 Zaur Kabaloev (Russia)
7 Donior Islamov (Moldova)
8 Nikolay Ivanov Vichev (Bulgaria)
9 Ivan Lizatovic (Croatia)
10 Elmurat Tasmuradov (Uzbekistan)