Photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com.
COMPETITION DATE: Sept. 20-21
There are some big accomplishments that accompany some big athletes in the men’s freestyle 125 kg field for the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Two-time defending World champion Geno Petriashvili of Georgia is back in the mix this year and on the hunt for his third-straight World title.
In addition to his two Senior World gold medals, Petriashvili also won gold at the 2017 U23 World Championships and owns a 2016 Olympic bronze as well as Senior World bronze medals from 2013 and 2015. Petriashvili will enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Looking to put an end to his run is 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Taha Akgul from Turkey, who will be the No. 3 seed in Kazakhstan.
Akgul ran the gauntlet in the 2016 Olympic quad, winning gold in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and also securing a bronze in 2013. However, in 2017, Petriashvili knocked off the Olympic champion in the finals with an exciting 10-8 win, leaving Akgul with silver.
Last year, Akgul finished seventh in the world.
Holding the No. 2 seed is 2018 World silver medalist Zhiwei Deng from China. Deng has been active on the international scene this year, wrestling in six major tournaments since the World Championships in October. He won the Ali Aliev Tournament, produced a silver medal at Asian Championships and notched top-five finishes at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix and the Dan Kolov Tournament.
Certainly in the mix at 125 kg is two-time World bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski from the United States.
Since taking home his second-consecutive World bronze, Gwiazdowski put together a strong season, winning gold at the Pan American Championships and the Pan American Games and claiming silver at the Yasar Dogu. Gwiazdowski dropped his Yasar Dogu finals match to Akgul.
The other 2018 World bronze medalist, Parviz Khodavirdi Hadibasmanj of Iran, is also expected to compete. Hadibasmanj won the title at the Dan Kolov Tournament, which is the only event he has competed in since the World Championships.
Another name to look out for is Jamaladdin Magamadov of Azerbaijan, who is a 2015 World silver medalist and a 2011 World bronze medalist.
Current UWW Ranking Series standings (used for seeding)
1. Geno PETRIASHVILI (Georgia)
2. Zhiwei DENG (China)
3. Taha AKGUL (Turkey)
4. Nicholas GWIAZDOWSKI (USA)
5. Anzor Ruslanovitch KHIZRIEV (Russia)
6. Daniel LIGETI (Hungary)
7. Sumit SUMIT (India)
8. Parviz Khodavirdi HADIBASMANJ (Iran)
9. Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (Ukraine)
10. Yadollah Mohammadkazem MOHEBI (Iran)