USA Wrestling 2019 World Champions...

2019 World Championships preview at 55 kg/121 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | Aug. 14, 2019, 4:40 p.m. (ET)

Photo of Max Nowry by Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers are Warriors.


Dates of competition: Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15

Last year’s World Champion Eldaniz Azizli of Azerbaijan has competed sparingly in 2019. After wrestling in the Club World Cup in December 2018, Azizli has only wrestled in two tournaments, the European Championships, where he placed third, and the Ion Corneanu & Ladislau Simon Memorial, where he placed fifth up a weight class at 60 kg. Normally this would be cause for concern, but Azizli followed a similar pattern last year. After winning the 2018 European Championships at 55 kg, Azizli bumped up to 60 kg and placed 10th at the Vehbi Emre & Hamit Kaplan Tournament and fifth at the Oleg Karavarv. He then dropped back to 55 kg and won World gold.

2018 silver medalist Zholaman Sharshenbekov of Kyrgyzstan is another wrestler who has had limited competition since last year’s World Championships. Competing in just two tournaments, Sharshenbekov took third in the Dan Kolov and Nikola Petrov Tournament and first in the Asian Championships. Notably, he competed at 60 kg in both of these tournaments. With the Olympics being next year and 60 kg being the lightest weight class, it would not be surprising for Sharshenbekov to remain there for the World Championships.

Ekrem Oeztuerk of Turkey has had a relatively disappointing year after winning a bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships. Oeztuerk had high placements at the Grand Prix of Zagreb and the Spanish Grand Prix, where he finished second. However, he took seventh at the Vehbi Emre & Hamit Kaplan Tournament, finishing behind four other Turkish wrestlers. It is possibly that Turkey opts to send Serif Kilic to the World Championships. Kilic won the Vebit Emre & Kaplan Tournament and took fifth at the Senior European Championships. Oezturek was sent to the U23 European Championships and only managed an 11th-place finish. However he did outplace Kilic at the Spanish Grand Prix, where Kilic finished third. Oeztuerk is a 2018 University World champion while Kilic finished third at 60 kg.

The other 2018 bronze medalist Nugzari Tsurtsumia of Georgia looks to have his spot locked up. Tsurtsumia won a U23 World title shortly after winning Senior World bronze. In 2019 he won the U23 European Championships and the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup. He placed eighth at the Senior European Championships, which is a tournament he won last year. In 2016 he placed third at the Junior World Championships at 50 kg.

The current No. 2 in the UWW rankings is Ilkhom Bakhromov of Uzbekistan. Bakhromov finished in ninth place at the World Championships last year. Bakhromov won the Grand Prix of Hungary and the Asian Championships competing at 55 kg. He bumped up to 60 kg for two tournaments and did not compete nearly as well, placing ninth at the Grand Prix of Zagreb and 12th at the Oleg Karavaev Memorial. Bakhromov has placed second and third at the Junior World Championships competing at 50 kg in 2016 and 2017. In 2014, he was a Youth Olympic Games champion, also at 50 kg.

Perhaps the most dangerous man at 55 kg, or at least the one with the most momentum, is Vitali Kabaloev of Russia. Kabaloev was a U23 World silver medalist last year and did not compete at Senior Worlds despite winning the Senior Russian Championships. This year, it seems almost guaranteed that Kabaloev will be their representative. He has won every tournament he has entered including the Russian Championships, the Dan Kolov and Nikola Petrov Tournament, the European Championships and the Grand Prix of Germany.

Other wrestlers to watch include Noravyr Hakhoyan of Armenia and Liguo Cao of China. Both finished fifth last year. The European Championships is the only tournament Hakhoyan has competed in this year, and he placed ninth. Cao took fifth at the Grand Prix of Hungary and the Dan Kolov and Nikola Petrov Tournament. Both results came at 60 kg, which makes it uncertain if he will drop back down for the World Championships.

The United States will send 2018 Pan American champion Max Nowry as our representative. Earlier this month Nowry placed third at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup. Domestically, he was the 2019 U.S. Open champion. Despite being a veteran on the scene, this is Nowry’s first Senior World Team. Nowry’s most impressive performance to date was a University World Championships gold medal in 2012. He also placed fifth at the University World Games in 2013. Nowry was on back-to-back Junior World teams in 2009 and 2010, where he placed sixth and fifth at 50 kg. Nowry also placed tenth at the 2015 World Military Games at 57 kg in freestyle.


2018 World Championships
55/121 lbs. – Gold - Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan); Silver - Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan); Bronze - Ekrem Oezturek (Turkey); Bronze - Nugzari Tsurtsumia (Georgia); 5th - Norayr Hakhoyan (Armenia); 5th - Liguo Cao (China); 7th – Vasill Topoev (Russia); 8th – Shota Tanokura (Japan); 9th – Ilkhom Bakhromov (Uzbekistan); 10th – Zahnserik Sarsenbiyev (Kazakhstan)

2013 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. – Gold - Won Chol Yun (North Korea); Silver - Gyujin Choi (Korea); Bronze – Peter Modos (Hungary); Bronze – Roman Amoyan (Armenia); 5th - Ivan Tatarinov (Russia); 5th – Spenser Mango (USA); 7th – Kanbek Zholchubekov (Kyrgyzstan); 8th – Orkhan Ahmadov (Azerbaijan); 9th – Nursultan Kalmurzayev (Kazakhstan); 10th – Victor Ciobanu (Moldova)

2012 Olympic Games
55kg/121 lbs. – Gold - Hamid Soryan (Iran); Silver - Rovshan Bayramov (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Peter Modos (Hungary); Bronze - Mingyan Semenov (Russia); 5th - Hakan Nyblom (Denmark); 5th - Gyu-Jin Choi (Korea); 7th - Shujin Li (China); 8th - Gustavo Balart (Cuba); 9th - Spenser Mango (USA); 10th - Kohei Hasegawa (Japan)

Most recent UWW Ranking Series Standings (used for seeding)
1 Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan)
2 Ilkhom Bakhromov (Uzbekistan)
3 Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan)
4 Ekrem Oezturek (Turkey)
5 Nugzari Tsurtsumia (Georgia)
6 Abdelkarim Fergat (Algeria)
7 Reza Kheirollah Khedri (Iran)
8 Liguo Cao (China)
9 Norayr Hakhoyan (Armenia)
10 Vitali Kabaloev (Russia)