USA Wrestling 2019 World Champions...

2019 World Championships preview at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | Aug. 26, 2019, 3:27 p.m. (ET)

Photo of Raymond Bunker by Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers are Warriors.


COMPETITION DATES: Sept. 14-15, 2019

Two of the four medalists from 2018 will be dropping down to 67 kg in order to better prepare for their Olympic runs. This includes returning World champion Frank Staebler of Germany and bronze medalist Rasul Chunayev of Azerbaijan. 2018 World silver medalist Balint Korpssi of Hungary will return to the weight class, as well as 2018 World bronze medalist Aik Mnatsakanian of Bulgaria.


Korpasi is a 2016 World champion and a 2017 World bronze medalist. He has competed in two tournaments this yea, the City of Sassari Tournament in Italy where he finished runner-up and the Grand Prix of Germany which he won. In the finals of both tournaments he faced Russians, falling to Adam Kurak in the Sassari and defeating Abuyazid Mantsigov at the German Grand Prix. Mantsigov defeated Kurak in the Russian Championship finals and will be their representative at the World Championships.


Besides his loss to Korpasi, Mantsigov has been excellent this year. A 2018 fifth-place finisher, Mantsigov won the Nikola Petrov Tournament in Bulgaria and the European Championship in addition to the Russian Championship. Mantsigov is a 2013 Junior World champion at 66 kg.


With Staebler moving down, Mnatsakanian will be the No. 1 seed at the World Championships. Mnatsakanian has had a solid year of competition taking first at the Ion Corneanu & Ladislau Simon Memorial in Romania, second at the Nikola Petrov Tournament and third at the European Championships and the Grand Prix of Zagreb in Croatia. Last year, Mnatsakanian finished 8th at the U23 World Championships several weeks after earning his Senior bronze medal.


An up-and-comer to look out for is Turkey’s Cenzig Arslan, who will be competing in his first Senior World Championships. Arslan was a U23 World champion last year and took bronze at the 2016 World University Championships. In 2019, Arslan finished runner-up at the European Championships and the Vehebi Emre & Hamit Kaplan Tournament in Turkey, third at the U23 European Championships and fifth at the Grand Prix of Zagreb.


Last year’s other fifth-place finisher Tarek Aziz Benaissa will most likely represent Algeria at 72 kg again this year, although their roster is not finalized. Benaissa took 8th at the 2016 Olympics at 66 kg and has represented Algeria at the Senior World Championships four times, finishing fifth twice. In 2019 he won the African Championships and placed 5th at the Henri Deglane Challenge in France.


Iran will not be sending their 2019 Senior Asian champion Geraei Mohammed Reza Abdolhami, who represented them last year at 67 kg. Instead, they will go with U23 Asian champion Amin Yavar Kaviyaninejad, a two-time Junior World champion in 2017 and 2018. Kaviyaninejad also won the Tblisi Tournament in Georgia and the Vehebi Emre & Kaplan Tournament this year. Kaviyaninejad is a 2015 Cadet World champion at 58 kg and a 2017 U23 World bronze medalist at 66 kg.


Raymond Bunker will be the U.S. representative at 72 kg. This will be his first World Championship at any level. Bunker has been dominant in the U.S. this year, winning the U.S. Open and his Final X series in two-straight matches. Additionally, he came out on top at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, facing domestic and international competition. He also took bronze at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup in Poland.



2018 World Championships

72kg/158.5 lbs. – Gold – Frank Staebler (Germany); Silver – Balint Korpasi (Hungary); Bronze - Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Aik Mnatskanian (Bulgaria); 5th – Tarek Aziz Benaissa (Algeria); 5th -  Abuiazid Mantsigov (Russia) ; 7th – Joilson De Brito Ramos Junior (Brazil); 8th - Hujun Zhang (China); 9th - Mohammadali Abdolhamid Geraei (Iran); 10th – Leos Drmola (Slovakia)


2017 World Championships

71 kg/156 lbs.  - Gold - Frank Staebler (Germany); Silver - Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Balint Korpasi (Hungary); Bronze - Mohammadali Geraei (Iran); 5th - Adam Kurak (Russia); 5th - Daniel Cataraga (Moldova); 7th - Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan); 8th - Evrik Nikoghosyan (France); 9th - Nurgazy Asangulov (Kyrgyzstan); 10th - Ibrahim Mahmoud Ghanev (Egypt)


2016 World Championships

71 kg/156 lbs. – Gold – Balint Korpasi (Hungary); Silver – Daniel Cataraga (Moldova); Bronze – Hasan Aliyev (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Ilie Cojocari (Romania); Fifth – Adam Kurak (Russia); Fifth – Aleksandr Masimovic (Serbia); Seventh – Artak Margaryan (France); Eighth – Dawid Karecinski (Poland); Ninth – Pavel Liakh (Belarus); Tenth – Christopher Gonzalez (United States)


2015 World Championships

71 kg/156 lbs. – Gold – Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan); Silver – Armen Vardanyan (Ukraine); Bronze – Adam Kurak (Russia); Bronze – Knut Tallroth (Sweden); Fifth – Tsimur Berdyieu (Belarus); Fifth – Matthias Maasch (Germany); Seventh – Kairatbek Tugolbaev (Kyrgyzstan); Eighth – Justin Lester (United States); Ninth – Akrem Boudjemline (Algeria); Tenth – Darkhan Bayakhmetov (Kazakhstan)


2014 World Championships

71 kg/156 lbs. – Gold – Chingiz Labazanov (Russia); Silver – Yunus Ozel (Turkey); Bronze – Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Afshim Byabangard (Iran); 5th – Varsham Boranyan (Armenia); 5th – Aliaksandr Dzemyanovich (Belarus); 7th – Shermet Permanov (Turkmenistan); 8th – Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan); 9th –Ionel Puscasu (Romania); 10th – Balint Korpasi (Hungary)


Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)

1 Frank Staebler (Germany)

2 Aik Mnatsakanian (Bulgaria)

3 Balint Korpasi (Hungary)

4 Abuiazid Mantsigov (Russia)

5 Tarek Aziz Benaissa (Algeria)

6 Hujun Zhang (China)

7 Cengiz Arslan (Turkey)

8 Robert Fritsch (Hungary)

9 Mateusz Lucjan Bernatek (Poland)

10 Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan)