Kyle Dake (USA) in his stance during the 2022 World Championships finals.
Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Kyle Dake (USA) in his stance during the 2022 World Championships finals.

USAWInternational2023 World Championships Preview

Senior Worlds Previews: Men’s Freestyle lighter weights (57 kg, 61 kg, 65 kg, 70 kg, 74 kg)

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Starting on September 7, USA Wrestling will post daily weight-by-weight previews of the 2023 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, set for Stark Arena, September 16-24.

We begin the previews with men’s freestyle, which kicks off the competition and will be held September 16-19. We split the stories into two features, lighter weights (57 kg, 61 kg, 65 kg, 70 kg and 74 kg), then heavier weights (79 kg, 86 kg, 92 kg, 97 kg and 125 kg). We will then move on to women’s freestyle, which is held next in the schedule, and wrap it up with Greco-Roman, which finishes off the competition.

57 kg

Justin Hoch
Zane Richards, the U.S. representative at 57 kg, will compete Sept. 17-18 at the 2023 World Championships.

Three of the four returning World medalists from 2022 are entered in Belgrade this year, and all have received a seed in the top six. 2022 World champion Zelimkhan Abakarov of Albania received the No. 2 seed, 2022 World bronze medalist Zanabazar Zamdambud of Mongolia is seeded No. 3 and 2022 World bronze medalist Stevan Micic of Serbia gets the No. 6 seed. Abakharov, a former Russian who first wrestled for Albania in 2022, was second in the 2023 European Championships wrestling up at 61 kg. Micic, who hails from Indiana and wrestled at Michigan, hasn’t been down to 57 kg yet this season. Zandanbud has not placed high in any major events since claiming his 2022 World medal.

The 2023 World medalist who is not back from last year is Thomas Gilman of the USA, who was beaten in Final X by Zane Richards, entering in his first Senior Worlds unseeded. Another athlete who is unseeded and expected to wreck the bracket is Individual Neutral Athlete Zaur Ugaev, a 2020 Olympic champion and 2019 World champion for Russia, who recently won the 2023 Russian Nationals. Rei Higuchi of Japan, a 2022 World champion at 61 kg and 2016 Olympic silver medalist at 57 kg, is back to 57 kg and is unseeded. Traditional power Iran enters Milad Valizade, also unseeded and capable of making a big impact.

Puerto Rico’s Darian Cruz, an NCAA champ for Lehigh, gets the No. 4 seed. Cruz lost to Gilman in the 2023 Pan American finals. The No. 1 seed is Wanhao Zou of China, fifth in the 2022 Worlds and winner of the ranking event in Hungary. Other seeds are No. 5 Almaz Smanbekov of Kyrgyzstan, runner-up at the Asian Championships and ranking event in Hungary, No. 7 Aliabbas Rzazade of Azerbaijan, the 2023 European champion, and No. 8 Beka Bujiashvili of Georgia, a 2022 European bronze medalist.

Aryan Tsiutryn, a 2022 World bronze medalist for Belarus, will enter as an Individual Neutral Athlete. 2023 Asian champion Aman of India, a 2021 U17 World champion, is looking for his first Senior World medal. 2019 World bronze medalist Suleyman Atli of Turkey could make a deep run. Arsen Harutyunyan of Armenia, a 2022 World bronze medalist and 2023 European champion at 61 kg, is making the drop to the Olympic weight at 57 kg. Others to watch are Vladimir Egorov of North Macedonia, 2020 Olympian Gulomjon Abdullaev of Uzbekistan plus Georgi Vangelov of Bulgaria, who was fifth at the 2020 Olympics.

Preliminary Seeds

1. Wanhao ZOU (CHN)

2. Zelimkhan ABAKAROV (ALB)

3. Zanabazar ZANDANBUD (MGL)

4. Darian CRUZ (PUR)


6. Stevan MICIC (SRB)

7. Aliabbas RZAZADE (AZE)


Recent World and Olympic Results

2022 World Championships

57 kg/125.5 lbs. -  Gold - Zelimkhan Abakarov (Albania); Silver - Thomas Gilman (USA); Bronze - Zanabazar Zamdambud (Mongolia); Bronze - Stevan Micic (Serbia); 5th - Wanghao Zou (China); 5th - Reineri Andreu Ortega (Cuba); 7th - Gulomjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan); 8th - Toshihiro Hasegawa (Japan); 9th - Darian Toi Cruz (Puerto Rico); 10th - Georgii Okorokov (Australia)

2021 World Championships

57 kg/125.5 lbs - Gold - Thomas Gilman (USA); Silver - Alireza Sarlak (Iran); Bronze - Horst Lehr (Germany); Bronze - Aryan Tsiutryn (Belarus); 5th - Abubakar Mutaliev (RWF); 5th - Suleyman Atli (Turkey); 7th - Toshiya Abe (Japan); 8th - Afgan Khashalov (Azerbaijan); 9th - Vladimir Egorov (North Macedonia); 10th - Mikyay Naim (Bulgaria)

2020 Olympic Games

57 kg/125.5 lbs. - Gold - Zavur Ugaev (ROC); Silver - Kumar Ravi (India); Bronze - Nurislam Sanayev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Thomas Gilman (USA); 5th - Reza Atrinagharchi (Iran); 5th - Georgi Vangelov (Bulgaria); 7th - Gulomjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan); 8th - Yuki Takahashi (Japan); 9th - Bekhbayar Erdenbat (Mongolia); 10th - Oscar Eduardo Tigeros Urbano (Colombia)

61 kg

Justin Hoch
Vitali Arujau, the U.S. representative at 61kg, will compete Sept. 16-17 at the 2023 World Championships.

Two of the four 2022 World medalists at 61 kg have dropped down to 57 kg, but the other two have received the top two seeds at 61 kg for this year. 2022 World silver medalist Reza Atrinagharchi of Iran earns the No. 1 seed and 2022 World bronze medalist Narankhuu Narmandakh of Mongolia is seeded second. Atrinagharchi won his only event in 2023, the ranking event in Croatia, where he beat Narmandakh in the finals. 2021 World champion Abasgadzhi Magomedov, entered as an Individual Neutral Athlete, won the Russian Nationals this year, but will not have a seed and will drawn into the bracket.

2023 European bronze medalist Shota Phartenzadze of Georgia comes in as the No. 3 seed, while 2023 Asian champion Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu of Kyrgyzstan collects the No. 4 seed. Zhumashbek Uulu was a 2022 U23 World silver medalist.

Rounding out the seeds are No. 5 Pankaj of India, No. 6 Emrah Ormanoglu of Turkey, No. 7 Jahongirmirza Turobov of Uzbekistan and No. 8 Nikolai Okhlopkov of Romania. Ormanoglu was a 2022 U23 World bronze medalist and won a 2023 European Senior bronze medal. Turobov was a 2021 Asian Senior champion.

Two-time age-group World medalist Vitali Arujau will compete in his first Senior World Championships for the United States and is unseeded. Arujau won the 2023 Pan American Championships and won a bronze at the ranking event in Hungary. Four-time African champion and 2020 Olympian Abdelhak Kherbache of Algeria is another medal hopeful. There will be great opportunities for young athletes to break through this year and establish themselves at the world level.

Preliminary Seeds


2. Narankhuu NARMANDAKH (MGL)





7. Jahongirmirza TUROBOV (UZB)

8. Nikolai OKHLOPKOV (ROU)

Recent World Results

2022 World Championships

61 kg/134 lbs. -  Gold - Rei Higuchi (Japan); Silver - Reza Atrinagharchi (Iran); Bronze - Arsen Harutyunyan (Armenia); Bronze - Narankhuu Narmandakh (Mongolia); 5th - Seth Gross (USA); 5th - Georgi Vangelov (Bulgaria); 7th - Khamzat Arsanerzouev (France); 8th - Suleyman Atli (Turkey); 9th - Islam Dudaev (Albania); 10th - Jahongirmirza Turobov (Uzbekistan)

2021 World Championships

61 kg/134 lbs. - Gold - Abasgadzhi Magomedov (RWF); Silver - Daton Fix (USA); Bronze - Arsen Harutyunyan (Armenia); Bronze - Toshihiro Hasegawa (Japan); 5th - Ravinder (India); 5th - Tuvshintulga Tumenbileg (Mongolia); 7th - Georgi Vangelov (Bulgaria); 8th - Arman Norik Eloyan (France); 9th - Emrah Ormanoglu (Turkey); 10th - Alibeg Alibegov (Bahrain)

Note: 61 kg is a non-Olympic weight class, so there are no results from the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan.

65 kg

Justin Hoch
Nick Lee, the U.S. representative at 65 kg, will compete Sept. 18-19 at the 2023 World Championships.

Top Contenders

Three of the four 2022 World medalists are entered again, and they are all among those seeded. 2023 World champion Rahman Amouzadkhalili of Iran gathered in the No. 1 seed. Amouzadkhalili added an Asian gold medal this spring. 2022 World bronze medalist Iszmail Muszukajev of Hungary, now a two-time World medalist, is seeded No. 4, while 2022 World bronze medalist Bajrang Punia of India is seeded No. 8. Bajrang has won three Senior World medals and was also a 2020 Olympic bronze medalist.

This bracket may get totally wrecked by a number of stars who did not get seeded. 2020 Olympic champion Takuto Otoguro of Japan is entered and unseeded. Otoguro has not competed internationally since his win in Tokyo. Three-time World champion and two-time Olympic medalist Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan also enters unseeded. Aliyev was a 2023 European champion, competing up at 70 kg. 2017 and 2018 World bronze medalist Alejandro Valdes Tobier of Cuba is also entered but did not secure a seed.

Also coming in unseeded and expected to compete is Individual Neutral Athlete Shamil Mamedov, who was a U20 World champion for Russia in 2021 and won the 2022 Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix. Coming in unseeded is Nick Lee of the United States, wrestling in his first Senior Worlds after stopping 2022 World silver medalist Yianni Diakomihalis in Final X.

Seeded No. 2 seed is New Jersey native Sebastian Rivera of Puerto Rico, who was an All-American at both Rutgers and Northwestern. Rivera was fifth in the 2022 World Championships and seventh in 2021.  The No. 3 seed is 2021 World bronze medalist Tulga Tumur Ochir of Mongolia, who was an Asian silver medalist this year. 2020 Olympian Agustin Destribats of Argentina is seeded No. 5. 2022 U23 World champion and 2020 Olympian Vazgen Tevanyan of Armenia is seeded No. 6, while 2023 European bronze medalist Edemi Bolkvadze of Georgia received the No. 7 seed.

Some other familiar names to U.S. college fans are Lachlan McNeil of Canada, who wrestles for North Carolina, Joshua Finesilver of Israel, who competed for Duke, Colin Realbuto of Italy, who wrestled for Northern Iowa and Austin Gomez of Mexico, who wrestled for Wisconsin and Iowa State.

Preliminary Seeds


2. Sebastian RIVERA (PUR)




6. Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM)



Recent World and Olympic Results

2022 World Championships

65 kg/143 lbs. -  Gold - Rahman Amouzadkhalili (Iran); Silver - Yianni Diakomihalis (USA); Bronze - Iszmail Muszukajev (Hungary); Bronze - Bajrang Punia (India); 5th - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan); 5th - Sebastian Rivera (Puerto Rico); 7th - Abbos Rakhmonov (Uzbekistan); 8th - Adil Ospanov (Kazakhstan); 9th - Tsogbadrakh Tseveensuren (Mongolia); 10th - Kaiki Yamaguchi (Japan)

2021 World Championships

65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold - Zagir Shakhiev (RWF); Silver - Amirmohammad Babak Yazdanicherati (Iran); Bronze - Alibek Osmonov (Kyrgyzstan); Bronze - Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia); 5th - Krzysztof Bienkowski (Poland); 5th - Rohit (India); 7th - Vasyl Shuptar (Ukraine); 8th - Sebastian Rivera (Puerto Rico); 9th - Selahattin Kilicsallayan (Turkey); 10th - Haji Ali (Brunei)

2020 Olympic Games

65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold - Takuto Otoguro (Japan); Silver - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Gadzhimurad Rashidov (ROC); Bronze - Bajrang Punia (India); 5th – Izmiel Muszukajev (Hungary); 5th - Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan); 7th - Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland); 8th - Morteza Ghiasa Cheka (Iran); 9th - Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia); 10th - Alejandro Enrique Valdez Tobier (Cuba)

70 kg

Justin Hoch
Zain Retherford, the U.S. representative at 70 kg, will compete Sept. 16-17 at the 2023 World Championships.

Top Contenders

The two 2002 World medalists who are entered this year have received the top two seeds, No. 1 seed Ernazar Akmataliev of Kyrgyzstan and No. 2 seed Zain Retherford of the United States. Akhmataliev has won medals in consecutive World championships, a bronze in 2022 and a silver in 2021. Retherford, competing on his third USA World Team, won a World silver in 2022. Akhmataliev has won four international medals so far in 2023. Retherford claimed a 2023 Pan American title.

Iran brings 2021 World silver medalist Amirmohammad Yazdanicherati, who did not receive a seed and will be drawn in. Also unseeded is Individual Neutral Athlete Evgheni Zherbaev, who was a 2021 World bronze medalist for Russia and claimed the Russian Nationals title this year.

None of the seeds from No. 3 to No. 8 have been past Senior World medalists. Claiming No. 3 is Arman Andreasyan of Armenia, who was fifth in the 2021 and 2022 World Championships. Giorgi Elbakidze of Georgia, the No. 4 seed, was a 2022 U23 World champion.

Closing out the seeds are No. 5 Ramazan Ramazanov of Bulgaria, No. 6 Servet Coskun of Turkey, No. 7 Ihor Nykyforuk of Ukraine and No. 8 Sanzhar Doszhanov of Kazakhstan. Ramazanov, who started his career with Russia, was a 2023 European silver medalist. Coskun was eighth in the 2023 World Championships. Nykyforuk was a 2023 European bronze medalist and won a 2029 U23 World bronze medal. Doszhanov was a 2023 Asian champion.

Among the other challengers are 2017 U20 World bronze medalist Temuulen Enkhtuya of Mongolia, 2023 European U23 champion Magomed Khaniev of Azerbaijan, 2022 U20 World bronze medalist Mulaym Yadav of India, 2022 U20 World bronze medalist Yoshinosuke Aoyagi of Japan and 2023 Asian silver medalist Zafarbek Otakhonov of Uzbekistan.

Preliminary Seeds





5. Ramazan RAMAZANOV (BUL)

6. Servet COSKUN (TUR)


8. Sanzhar DOSZHANOV (KAZ)

Recent World Results

2022 World Championships

70 kg/154 lbs. - Gold - Taishi Narikuni (Japan); Silver - Zain Retherford (USA); Bronze - Ernazar Akmataliev (Kyrgyzstan); Bronze - Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia); 5th - Naveen (India); 5th - Arman Andreasyan (Armenia); 7th - Ramazan Ramazanov (Bulgaria); 8th - Servet Coskun (Turkey); 9th - Gianluca Talamo (Italy); 10th - Joshua Finesilver (Israel)

2021 World Championships

70 kg/154 lbs. - Gold – Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland); Silver – Ernazar Akmataliev (Kyrgyzstan); Bronze – Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia); Bronze – Evgenii Zherbaev (RWF); 5th – Turan Bayramov (Azerbaijan); 5th – Arman Andreasyan (Armenia); 7th – James Green (USA); 8th – Erfan Elahi (Iran); 9th – Mustafa Kaya (Turkey); 10th – Nicolae Cojocaru (Great Britain)

Note: 70 kg is a non-Olympic weight class, so there are no results from the 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan.

74 kg

Justin Hoch

Top Contenders

Four-time World champion and 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Kyle Dake of the United States comes into Belgrade as the top star in the weight class. After winning two World titles at 79 kg, Dake moved to 74 kg, where he claimed his Olympic bronze then two straight World titles. Dake defeated Taimuraz Salkazanov of Slovakia in the finals the last two years. In the preliminary seeds, Dake received No. 2 and Salkazanov No. 3, meaning they may meet in the World semifinals this year if the seeds hold.

Wrestling fans are looking forward to the possible return of 2020 Olympic champion Zaurbek Sidakov, who would be competing as an Individual Neutral Athlete. Sidakov also boasts World titles in 2018 and 2019 for Russia. Another Individual Neutral Athlete entered will be 2020 Olympic silver medalist Mahamedkhabib Kadzimahamedau, who hails from Belarus. Neither of these athletes would receive a seed.

Speaking of unseeded stars, add in 2022 World bronze medalist Frank Chamizo of Italy, a two-time World champion who is capable of reaching the top of the podium in every event he enters. Also unseeded is Hetik Cabolov of Serbia, a 2014 World champion. Add 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Bekzod Abdurakhmanov of Uzbekistan, 2019 World silver medalist Nurkosha Kaipanov of Kazakhstan and 2018 World silver medalist Avtandil Kentchadze of Georgia to the list of unseeded entries.

The No. 1 seed is Soner Demirtas of Turkey, who was fifth in the 2022 World Championships and was a 2017 World bronze medalist. Demirtas was a 2023 European bronze medalist and placed in two ranking series events. The No. 4 seed went to 2023 World bronze medalist Yones Emamichoghaei of Iran, who was also a 2019 World bronze medalist. Rounding out the top eight seeds are 2023 Asian bronze medalist Suldkhuu Olonbayar of Mongolia (No. 5), Mitchell Finesilver of Israel (No. 6), Murad Kuramagomedov of Hungary (No. 7) and two-time U20 World medalist Sagar Jaglan of India (No. 8).  

Some of the past U.S. college athletes in the draw for other nations in addition to Finesilver (Duke) are Anthony Valencia of Mexico (Arizona State) and Malik Amine of San Marino (Michigan).

Preliminary Seeds


2. Kyle DAKE (USA)

3. Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK)


5. Suldkhuu OLONBAYAR (MGL)

6. Mitchell FINESILVER (ISR)


8. Sagar JAGLAN (IND)

Recent World and Olympic Results

2022 World Championships

74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Kyle Dake (USA); Silver - Taimuraz Salkazanov (Slovakia); Bronze - Yones Emamichoghaei (Iran); Bronze - Frank Chamizo (Italy); 5th -  Sagar Jaglan (India); 5th - Soner Demirtas (Turkey); 7th - Hetik Cabolov (Serbia); 8th - Suldkhuu Olonbayar (Mongolia); 9th - Vasile Diacon (Moldova); 10th - Daichi Takatani (Japan)

2021 World Championships

74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Kyle Dake (USA); Silver - Tajmuraz Salkazanov (Slovakia); Bronze - Fazli Eryilmaz (Turkey); Bronze - Timur Bizhoev (RWF); 5th - Azamat Nurykau (Belarus); 5th - Avtandil Kentchadze (Georgia); 7th - Hetik Cabolov (Serbia); 8th - Yones Aliakbar Emamichoghaei (Iran); 9th - Ali Pasha Umarpashaev (Bulgaria); 10th - Joshgun Azimov (Azerbaijan)

2020 Olympic Games

74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Zaurbek Sidakov (ROC); Silver - Mahamedkhabib Kadzimahamedau (Belarus); Bronze - Kyle Dake (USA); Bronze - Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Uzbekistan); 5th - Frank Chamizo (Italy); 5th - Daniyar Kaisanov (Kazakhstan); 7th - Amr Reda Ramadan Hussen (Egypt); 8th - Turan Bayramov (Azerbaijan); 9th - Jeandry Garzon Caballero (Cuba); 10th - Vasyl Mykhailov (Ukraine)