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Olympic Games preview at 65 kg in men’s freestyle: Three World champions and even more World medalists among field

by Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling

Photo of Haji Aliev  (left) and Gadzhimurad  Rashidov  (right) at the 2019 World Championships. 

Date of draw: Aug. 5
Dates of competition: Aug. 6-7

Team USA entry: No entry

The 65 kg field features multiple World champions and Olympic medalists, the No. 1 seed and defending World champion Gadzhimurad Rashidov of Russia. In addition to his 2019 World title, Rashidov also owns a pair of World silver medals from the 2017 and 2018 World Championships at 61 kg.

Looking to challenge Rashidov is three-time World champion at 61 kg and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Haji Aliev of Azerbaijan, who heads into Tokyo unseeded. In fact, the two met in the 2017 World finals with Aliev emerging victorious, but Rashidov got back the win in the 2019 World Championships, when the two went head-to head in the first round. Since 2018, Aliev has been at the 65 kg weight class but has yet to secure a World medal, despite winning two European Championship gold medals. In December, Aliev competed at the Individual World Cup, where he finished with a bronze. 

Another World champion in the mix is Takuto Otoguro, who won the crown in 2018 to become the youngest freestyle wrestler in Japan’s history to win a World title, defeating Bajrang Punia of India in the finals. Otoguro also outlasted Bajrang in the 2020 and 2021 finals of the Asian Championships.

Several other World medalists are expected to compete in Tokyo, including 2019 silver medalist Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan, 2019 bronze medalist Bajrang Punia of India and 2019 bronze medalist Ismail Muszukajev of Hungary as well as two-time World medalists Alejandro Vales Tobier of Cuba and Gadzhimurad Magomedmurad of Poland.

Bajrang heads into Tokyo as the No. 2 seed with two World medals under his belt from this quad. In 2018, he landed his first Senior World medal with a silver and followed it up in 2019 with bronze.

Niyazbekov will sit opposite of Bajrang on the lower side of the bracket as the No. 3 seed. Tokyo will mark Niyazbekov’s second Olympic Games as he took fifth at the 2012 Games in London. Including his 2019 World silver, Niyazbekov also won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships, which was his Senior World debut.

Seeded fourth at the Games is Muzukajev representing Hungary, who claimed his first Senior World medal in his 2019 Senior World debut. Muszukajev is originally from Russia and wrestled for his home country up until 2018. He owns a silver medal from the 2013 Junior World Championships, competing for Russia.

Similar to Muszukajev, Magomedmurad of Poland is originally from Russia and began competing for Poland in 2014. Magomedmurad was a 2016 Olympian, finishing 16th in Rio. He made his way onto the podium in 2018 with a silver-medal finish at 65 and again in 2019 with a bronze-medal performance at 70 kg.

Representing Cuba is two-time World bronze medalist Valdes, who secured his medals in 2017 and 2018. He produced a gold medal at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier to earn a bid to Tokyo, which will mark his second Olympics as he was seventh at the Rio Games.

The Pan Am countries will have one other rep in Tokyo as Agustin Destribats became the first male wrestler since 1996 to qualify Argentina for the Games with a signature win over USA’s Zain Retherford in the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier to keep the U.S. from qualifying.

Competition at 65 kg will help close out the wrestling portion of the Games, Aug. 6-7.

65 KG/143 LBS. MEN’S FREESTYLE
NO. 1 SEED - 2019 World champion – Russia (Gadzhimurad Rashidov)
NO. 2 SEED - 2019 World bronze medalist – India (Bajrang)
NO. 3 SEED - 2019 World silver medalist – Kazakhstan (Daulet Niyazbekov)
NO. 4 SEED - 2019 World bronze medalist – Hungary (Iszmail Muszukajev)
2019 World fifth place – Japan (Takuto Otoguro)
2019 World fifth place – Mongolia (Tulga Tumur Ochir)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier champion – Cuba (Alejandro Enrique Valdes Tobier)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Argentina (Agustin Alejandro Destribats)
2021 European Olympic Qualifier champion – Armenia (Vazgen Tevanyan)
2021 European Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Azerbaijan (Haji Aliev)
2021 African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier champion – Senegal (Adama Diatta)
2021 African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier runner-up –Tunisia (Haithem Dakhlaoui)
2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier champion – Kyrgyzstan (Emazar Akhmataliev)
2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Iran (Amirmohammad Yasdanicherati)
2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier champion – Poland (Magomedmurad Gadzhiev)
2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier runner-up – Greece (Georgios Pilidis)

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2019 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. – Gold – Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia); Silver – Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Bajrang Bajrang (India); Bronze – Iszmail Muszukajev (Hungary); 5th – Takuto Otoguro (Japan); 5th – Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia); 7th – Haji Ali (Bahrain); 8th – Alexander Semisorow (Germany); 9th – Jong Son (North Korea); 10th – Selahattin Kilicsallayan (Turkey)

2018 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. – Gold – Takuto Otoguro (Japan); Silver – Bajrang Bajrang (India); Bronze - Akhmed Chakaev (Russia); Bronze – Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba); 5th – George Bucur (Romania); 5th – Seungchul Lee (South Korea); 7th – Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia); 8th – Andrei Perpelita (Moldova); 9th – Niurhun Skrabin (Belarus); 10th – Dimitar Ivanov (Bulgaria)

2017 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold - Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia); Silver - Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland); Bronze –Alan Gogaev (Russia) ; Bronze –Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba); 5th - Mustafa Kaya (Turkey); 5th - Azamat Nurykau (Belarus); 7th - Adam Batirov (Bahrain); 8th - Franklin Gomez Matos (Puerto Rico); 9th - Aghahuseyn Mustafayev (Azerbaijan); 10th - Meisam Nasiri (Iran)
2016 Olympic Games
65 kg/143 lbs. – Gold – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Silver – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Frank Chamizo (Italy); Bronze – Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan); 5th – Frank Molinaro (United States); 5th – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 7th – Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba); 8th – Borislav Novachkov (Bulgaria); 9th – Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico); 10th – Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia)
2015 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold – Frank Chamizo (Italy); Silver – Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan); Bronze – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Bronze – Sayed Mohammadi (Iran); 5th – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 5th – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan); 7th – Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland); 8th – George Bucur (Romania); 9th – Avtandil Kentchadze (Georgia); 10th – Brent Metcalf (United States)
2014 World Championships
65 kg/143 lbs. - Gold – Soslan Ramonov (Russia); Silver – Seyed Mohammadi (Iran); Bronze – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); Bronze – Mihail Sava (Moldova); 5th – Azamat Nurkykau (Belarus); 5th – Mustafa Kaya (Turkey); 7th – Daichi Takatani (Japan); 8th – Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico); 9th – George Burcur (Romania); 10th – Magomed Muslimov (Azerbaijan)
2013 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Gold – David Safaryan (Armenia); Silver – Livan Lopez (Cuba); Bronze – Magomed Kurbanaliev (Russia); Bronze – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia); 5th – Levan Kelekhsashvili (Georgia); 5th - Jin Hyok Kang (Korea); 7th - Saba Bolaghi (Germany); 8th - Haislan Garcia (Canada); 9th - Takahiro Inoue (Japan); 10th - Alexandr Kontoyev (Belarus)
2012 Olympics
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Gold – Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu (Japan); Silver – Sushil Kumar (India); Bronze – Akhzurek Tantarov (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Livan Lopez (Cuba); 5th – Ramazan Sahin (Turkey); 5th – Jabrayil Hasanov (Azerbaijan); 7th – Haislan Garcia (Canada); 8th – David Safaryan (Armenia); 9th – Ikhtiyor Nazruzov (Uzbekistan); 10th – Ali Shabanau (Belarus)

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