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#WrestleBelgrade Preview: Greco-Roman light weights

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Max Nowry (USA) locks up an opponent at the 2021 World Championships
Max Nowry (USA) locks up an opponent at the 2021 World Championships. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

The 2022 Senior World Championships are just around the corner, set for Sept. 10-18 in Belgrade, Serbia.


USA Wrestling will be posting weight class previews for the 2022 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in six segments. There will be two previews in each style, light weights (first five weights) and heavy weights (final five weights). Included will be a story on each weight class, with seeds plus World/Olympic results going back to 2017.

Previous Previews
Men’s freestyle light weights
Women’s freestyle light weights

Today, we feature the first five Greco-Roman weight classes: 55 kg, 60 kg, 63 kg, 67 kg and 72 kg

55 kg preview
Competition days: September 10-11
U.S. representative: Max Nowry

The 55 kg weight class was reborn in 2018, when international wrestling expanded back to 10 weight classes in each discipline. This non-Olympic weight has had three World champions from three different nations, and two of them are among the high seeds. 2018 World champion Eldaniz Azizli of Azerbaijan is the No. 1 seed. Azizli won bronze medals in the 2019 and 2021 World Championships and was the 2022 European champion. 2019 World champion Nugzari Tsurtsumia of Georgia is the No. 2 seed. Tsurtsumia won World bronze medals in 2018 and 2021, and lost to Azizli in the 2022 European finals. The 2021 World champion, Japan’s Ken Matsui, is not registered.

Claiming the No. 3 seed is 2018 World bronze medalist Ekrem Ozturk of Turkey, who was fifth in the 2021 Worlds and second in the 2021 European Championships. Max Nowry of the USA, who placed fifth in the 2019 Worlds and ninth in the 2021 Worlds, gets the No. 4 seed. Nowry won bronze at the 2022 Matteo Pellicone Ranking Event. No. 5 seed Fabian Schmitt of Germany, who was 10th at the 2021 Worlds is No. 5, while 2022 Asian silver medalist Amangali Bekbolatov of Kazakhstan earned the No. 6 seed.

2022 Asian bronze medalist Jasurbek Ortikboev of Uzbekistan is seeded No. 7, while Ukraine’s Koriun Sharadian scraped up enough points for the No. 8 seed. Some medalists could come from the unseeded athletes such as 2021 U23 World silver medalist and 2021 Junior World champion Poya Dad Marz of Iran, 2021 and 2022 Asian champion Yu Shiotani of Japan or 2022 European bronze medalist and 2018 Military World champion Rudik Mkrtchyan of Amenia

Others to watch include 2022 Asian bronze medalist Arjun Halakaurki of India and 2019 European silver medalist Florin Tita of Romania.

55 kg seeds
No. 1 Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE)
No. 2 Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO)
No. 3 Ekrem OZTURK (TUR)
No. 4 Max NOWRY (USA)
No. 5 Fabian SCHMITT (GER)
No. 6 Amangali BEKBOLATOV (KAZ)
No. 7 Jasurbek ORTIKBOEV (UZB)
No. 8 Koriun SAHRADIAN (UKR)


2021 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Ken Matsui (Japan); Silver – Emin Sefershaev (RWF); Bronze – Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Nugzari Tsurtsumia (Georgia); 5th – Ekrem Ozturk (Turkey); 5th – Norayr Hakhoyan (Armenia); 7th – Sardarbek Konushbaev (Kyrgyzstan); 8th – Khorlan Zhakansha (Kazakhstan); 9th – Max Nowry (USA); 10th – Fabian Schmitt (Germany)

2019 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Nugzari Tsurtsumia (Georgia); Silver - Khorlan Zhakansha (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Shota Ogawa (Japan); 5th - Max Nowry (USA); 5th - Liguo Cao (China); 7th - Vitalii Kabaloev (Russia); 8th - Davaabandi Munkh Erdene (Mongolia); 9th - Ilkhom Bakhromov (Uzbekistan); 10th - Pouya Mohammad Naserpour (Iran)

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)

There was no 55 kg weight class in 2017

60 kg preview
Competition days: September 12-13
U.S. representative: Ildar Hafizov

The competition should be fierce at 60 kg, with much experience and talent among the top stars. The favorite could be No. 3 seed Kenchiro Fumita of Japan, who was a 2020 Olympic silver medalist and 2017 and 2019 World champion. Fumita has only wrestled once internationally since the Tokyo Games, which affected his seeding. The No. 1 seed is 2021 World silver medalist Zholaman Sharshenbekov of Kyrgyzstan, a 2018 World silver medalist who was also seventh in the 2020 Olympics. Sharshenbekov was the 2022 Asian champion. At No. 3 is 2021 World bronze medalist Murad Mammadov of Azerbaijan, who won the 2022 Matteo Pellicone Ranking Event and was third in the 2022 European Championships.

2022 European bronze medalist Gevorg Gharibyan of Armenia, who placed fifth at the 2021 World Championships secured the No. 4 seed. Gyanender Daihya of India, who was fifth in the 2021 Worlds and won the Sghaier Ranking Event in Tunisia, brings in the No. 5 seed. 2022 European champion Kerem Kamal of Turkey, who was a three-time Junior World champion (2017, 2018, 2019), is seeded No. 6. Multiple-time African champion Haithem Mahmoud of Egypt, who was ninth at the 2020 Olympics, gets the No. 7 seed. Estonia’s Helary Maegisalu scored enough points for the No. 8 seed.

There is good depth in this weight class, led by 2018 World bronze medalist and 2021 Asian champion Aidos Sultangali of Kazakhstan. Others looking to medal without a seed are 2022 European silver medalist Edmond Nazaryan of Bulgaria, 2020 and 2021 Pan American champion Dicther Toro Castaneda of Colombia and 2021 European bronze medalist Viktor Petryk of Ukraine.

Veteran Ildar Hafizov of the USA, a two-time Olympian and multiple World Team member for the USA and Uzbekistan, is seeking to break through with his first medal. Others to watch are multiple African champion Abdelkarim Fergat of Algeria and 2019 Asian champion Ilkhom Bakhromov of Uzbekistan.

60 kg seeds
No. 2 Murad MAMMADOV (AZE)
No. 3 Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN)
No. 4 Gevorg GHARIBYAN (ARM)
No. 5 Gyanender DAHIYA (IND)
No. 6 Kerem KAMAL (TUR)
No. 7 Haithem MAHMOUD (EGY)
No. 8 Helary MAEGISALU (EST)


2021 World Championships
60 kg/130 lbs.- Gold – Victor Ciobanu (Moldova); Silver – Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan) ; Bronze – Stepan Maryanyan (RWF); Bronze – Murad Mammadov (Azerbaijan); 5th – Gevorg Gharibyan (Armenia); 5th – Maksim Kazharski (Belarus); 7th – Ayata Suzuki (Japan); 8th – Mehrdad Mardani (Iran); 9th – Irakli Dzimistarishvili (Georgia); 10th – Gyanender Gyanender (India)

2020 Olympics
60 kg/130 lbs. - Gold - Luis Orta Sanchez (Cuba); Silver - Kenchiro Fumita (Japan); Bronze- Salike Walihan (China); Bronze - Sergei Emelin (ROC); 5th - Lenur Temirov (Ukraine); 5th - Victor Ciobanu (Moldova); 7th - Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan); 8th - Armen Melikyan (Armenia); 9th - Haythem Mahmoud (Egypt); 10th - Ali Reza Nejati (Iran)

2019 World Championships
60 kg/130 lbs. - Gold – Kenchiro Fumita (Japan); Silver – Sergey Emelin (Russia); Bronze – Mirambek Ainagulov (Kazahkstan); Bronze – Ali Reza Ayat Ollah Nejati (Iran); 5th – Lenur Temirov (Ukraine); 5th – Elmurat Tasmuradov (Uzbekistan); 7th – Ivo Serafimov Angelov (Bulgaria); 8th – Ivan Lizatovic (Croatia); 9th – Victor Ciobanu (Moldova); 10th – Razvan Arnaut (Romania)

2018 World Championships
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold- Sergey Emelin (Russia); Silver – Victor Ciobanu (Moldova); Bronze – Aidos Sultangali (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Sailike Walihan (China); 5th – Kristian Fris (Serbia); 5th- Se Ung RI (North Korea); 7th – Kaly Sulaimnov (Kyrgyzstan); 8th – Etienne Kinsinger (Germany); 9th - Shinobu Ota (Japan); 10th - Firuz Tukhtaev

2017 World Championships
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold – Kenichiro Fumita (Japan); Silver - Mirambek Ainagulov (Kazakhstan); Bronze –Stepan Maryanyan (Russia); Bronze – Seung-Hak Kim (Korea) ; 5th - Kanybek Zholchubekov (Kyrgyzstan); 5th - Dmitriy Tsymbaliyuk (Ukraine); 7th - Taleh Mammadov (Azerbaijan); 8th - Mehrdad Abdmohammad Mardani (Iran); 9th - Gyanender (India); 10th - Erik Torba (Hungary)

63 kg preview
Competition days: September 11-12
U.S. representative: Sammy Jones

The top entry in this weight class is unseeded, as the 2020 Olympic champion at 60 kg, Luis Orta Sanchez of Cuba, has moved up in weight. Orta, a two-time Pan American champion, has not wrestled since the Tokyo Games, and has never competed at 63 kg.

On paper, a star who could also challenge is No. 4 seed Victor Ciobanu of Moldova, who won the 2021 World Championships at 60 kg and has also moved up in weight. Ciobanu was fifth in the 2020 Olympics, and also claimed a 2018 World silver medal. He has wrestled at 63 kg this season, placing second in Ranking Events in Turkey and Italy. If the seeds hold, he could face No. 1 seed Leri Abuladze of Georgia in the semifinals, who was second in the 2021 World Championships at this weight. Abuladze added a 2022 European title to his achievements.

The No. 2 seed is 2022 European silver medalist Taleh Mammadov of Azerbaijan, who was fifth in the 2021 World Championships. Mammadov also won the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Event in Italy. No. 3 seed is Erik Torba of Hungary, who placed fifth in the 2019 and 2021 World Championships. Torba was also fifth at the 2022 European Championships. None of the other seeds have major Senior level achievements. No. 5 seed Ahmet Uyar of Turkey was a 2021 U23 World silver medalist. No. 6 seed Hrachya Poghosyan of Armenia was a 2021 U23 World bronze medalist and 2016 U17 World bronze medalist. Neeraj of India, the No. 7 seed, was a 2022 Asian bronze medalist and won the 2022 U23 Asian Championships. Perhaps the best resume is from No. 8 seed Tynar Sharshenbekov of Kyrgyzstan, a 2022 Asian champion who was also fifth in the 2019 World Championships.

There is good talent among the unseeded entries, led by 2019 World bronze medalist Ali Reza Nejad of Iran, who has won World medals at the U17, U20, U23 and Senior levels. Another talent is Erbatu Tuo of China, a 2109 Asian champion who was fifth in the 2018 Worlds. Abolmohammad Papi of Germany, who was a 2013 Asian bronze medalist for Iran, is competing for Germany starting this year. Aker Al Obaidi of the Refugee Team was eighth in the 2020 Olympics. Also watch for 2020 Asian silver medalist Jinseub Song of Korea. Sammy Jones competes in his second straight Senior Worlds for the United States.  

63 kg seeds
No. 2 Taleh MAMMADOV (AZE)
No. 3 Erik TORBA (HUN)
No. 4 Victor CIOBANU (MDA)
No. 5 Ahmet UYAR (TUR)
No. 6 Hrachya POGHOSYAN (ARM)


2021 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Meysam Karamali Dalkhani (Iran); Silver - Leri Abuladze (Georgia); Bronze - Kensuke Shimizu (Japan); Bronze - Lenur Temirov (Ukraine); 5th - Taleh Mammadov (Azerbaijan); 5th - Erik Torba (Hungary); 7th - Hanjae Chung (Korea); 8th - Deniz Menekse (Germany); 9th - Mihai Radu Mihut (Romania); 10th - Ibragim Labazanov (RWF)

2019 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Shinobu Ota (Japan); Silver - Stepan Maryanyan (ROC); Bronze - Slavik Galstyan (Armenia); Bronze - Almat Kebispayev (Kazakhstan); 5th - Meysam Dalkhani (Iran); 5th - Tynar Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan); 7th - Ryan Mango (USA); 8th - Jinwoong Jung (Korea); 9th - Rahman Bilici (Turkey); 10th - Islomjon Bakhramov (Uzbekistan)

2018 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Gold – Stepan Maryanyan (Russia); Silver – Elmurat Tasmuradov (Uzbekistan); Bronze – Lenur Temirov (Ukraine); Bronze - Rahman Bilici (Turkey); 5th - Hassan Mohamed (Egypt) 5th – Erbatu Tuo (China); 7th – Krisztian Vancza (Hungary); 8th – Donior Islamov (Moldova); 9th – Slavik Galstyan (Armenia); 10th – Taleh Mammadov (Azerbaijan)

There was no 63 kg weight class at the 2017 Senior Worlds

67 kg preview
Competition days September 11-12
U.S. representative: Alejandro Sancho

One of the world’s best Greco-Roman wrestlers is also the top seed here, 2020 Olympic champion Mohammedreza Geraei of Iran, who also won the 2021 World gold medal. He was also a 2017 World bronze medalist. Geraei has won gold in his last six international events, including a 2019 U23 World title.

There will be a big battle on the other side of the bracket. Easily the most accomplished among the seeds is No. 7 Hansu Ryu of Korea, a two-time World champion (2013, 2017) and 2015 World silver medalist. Ryu was seventh in the 2020 Olympics and seeks a return to the podium. The No. 2 seed is Murat Firat of Turkey, the 2022 European champion who placed fifth in the 2021 Worlds. The No. 3 seed was also fifth at the 2021 World Championships, Hasrat Jafarov of Azerbaijan, who won both the U23 World title and Junior World title in 2021. Throw in the No. 6 seed, 2017 World silver medalist Mateusz Bernatek of Poland.

Seeds on Geraie’s side include No. 4 Mohammed El Sayed, a 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, who was also fifth in the 2019 World Championships. No. 5 Morten Thoresen of Norway, a 2020 European Champion, was ninth in the 2019 Worlds. This half-bracket also includes No. 8 Witalis Lazovski of Germany, who was 10th in the 2022 World Championships.

Non-seeded stars include 2019 World bronze medalist Slavik Galstyan of Armenia, who was third in the 2022 European Championships, as well as Mate Nemes of Serbia, a 2019 World bronze medalist who was also a 2021 European champion. Other tough draws could include 2022 Asian champion Abror Atabaev of Uzbekistan and 2022 European silver medalist and 2018 Junior World bronze medalist Krisztian Vancza of Hungary. Japan will bring 2018 U23 World champion Katsuaki Endo. Others to note include Olympian and two-time age-group World Team member Alejandro Sancho of the USA, 2022 Pan American champion Julian Horta Acevedo of Chile and 2018 European champion Mihai Mihut of Romania.

67 kg seeds
No. 1 Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI)
No. 2 Murat FIRAT (TUR)
No. 3 Hasrat JAFAROV (AZE)
No. 4 Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY)
No. 5 Morten THORESEN (NOR)
No. 6 Mateusz BERNATEK (POL)
No. 7 Hansu RYU (KOR)
No. 8 Witalis LAZOVSKI (GER)


2021 World Championships
67 kg/147.75 lbs. - Gold - Mohammadreza Geraei (Iran); Silver - Nazir Abdullaev (RWF); Bronze - Almat Kebispayev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Ramaz Zoidze (Georgia); 5th - Murat Firat (Turkey); 5th - Hasrat Jafarov (Azerbaijan); 7th - Mateusz Lucjan Bernatek (Poland); 8th - Sebastian Nad (Serbia); 9th - Morten Thoresen (Norway); 10th - Witalis Lazovski (Germany)

2020 Olympics
67 kg/147.75 lbs. - Gold – Mohammedreza Geraei (Iran); Silver - Parviz Nasibov (Ukraine); Bronze – Mohammed Elsayed (Egypt); Bronze – Frank Staebler (Germany); 5th - Artem Surkov (Russia); 5th - Ramaz Zoidze (Georgia); 7th – Ryu Hansu (Korea); 8th – Aker Obaidi (Olympic Refugee Team); 9th – Karen Aslanyan (Armenia); 10th – Alejandro Sancho (USA)

2019 World Championships
67 kg/147.75 lbs. - Gold - Ismael Borrero Molina (Cuba); Silver - Artem Surkov (Russia); Bronze – Mate Nemes (Serbia); Bronze – Frank Staebler (Germany); 5th – Fredrik Holmquist Bjerrehuus (Denmark); 5th – Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed Ibrahi Elsayed (Egypt); 7th – Geovorg Sahakyan (Poland); 8th – Hansu Ryu (Korea); 9th – Deyvid Dimitrov (Bulgaria); 10th - Atakan Yuksel (Turkey)

2018 World Championships
67 kg/147.75 lbs. - Gold – Artem Surkov (Russia); Silver – Davor Stefanek (Serbia); Bronze – Meiirzhan Shermakhanbet (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Gevorg Sahakyan (Poland); 5th - Mamadassa Sylla (France); 5th – Danijel Janecic (Croatia); 7th – Fredrik Holmquist Bjerrehuus (Denmark); 8th – Mohammadreza Abdolhamid Geraei (Iran); 9th – Tsuchika Shimoyamada (Japan); 10th – Kamran Mammadov (Azerbaijan)

2017 World Championships
66 kg/145 lbs.
Gold – Han-Soo Ryu (Korea); Silver - Mateusz Bernatek (Poland); Bronze – Artem Surkov (Russia) ; Bronze –Atakan Yuksel (Turkey) ; 5th - Karen Aslanyan (Armenia); 5th - Mohammad Elyasi (Iran); 7th - Almat Kebispayev (Kazakhstan); 8th - Danijel Janecic (Croatia); 9th - Denys Demyankov (Ukraine); 10th - Flavio Freuler (Switzerland)

72 kg preview
Competition dates: September 10-11
U.S. representative: Benji Peak

The 72 kg weight class is also one that should be wide open and exciting. There are only two past World medalists among the top eight seeds, led by No. 1 seed and 2021 World bronze medalist Kristupas Sleiva of Lithuania. Sleiva was fifth in the 2022 European Championships, won the Pellicone Ranking Event and was second in Vehbe Emre Ranking Event. The other past World medalist is No. 3 seed and two-time World bronze medalist Gevorg Sahakyan of Poland. Sahakyan won his World medals in 2018 and 2021, and was a 2014 World Military champion when he competed for Armenia.

The No. 2 seed is 2022 European bronze medalist Ulvu Ganizade of Azerbaijan, who was eighth in the 2022 Worlds and has won age-group medals at the U17, U20 and U23 levels. No. 4 Mohammad Reza Mokhtari of Iran was fifth in the 2022 World Championships and won the 2022 Asian Championships title. No. 5 seed Valentin Petic of Moldova was seventh in the 2021 Worlds, and won age-group World bronze medals at the Junior and U23 levels in 2019.

No. 6 seed Selcuk Can of Turkey is competing in his first Senior Worlds and won a medal in two Ranking Events this year, a gold in Turkey and a bronze in Italy. No. 7 seed Deyvid Dimitrov of Bulgaria was ninth in the 2022 Worlds, with his best finish being fifth at the 2019 U23 Worlds. 2022 European champion Robert Frisch of Hungary comes in with the No. 8 seed.

There is great opportunity among unseeded athletes making a medal run. 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Shmagi Bolkvadze of Georgia, who was also a 2017 U23 World champion, should be in the mix. 2022 Asian silver medalist Ibragim Magomadov of Kazakhstan is also a rising talent. Serbia’s Ali Arsalan won a 2022 European bronze medal, and previously wrestled for Iran, where he was a 2015 Junior World bronze medalist. Exciting Benji Peak of the USA is competing in his first Senior Worlds, and looks to throw people on their head.

72 kg seeds
No. 1 Kristupas SLEIVA (LTU)
No. 3 Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL)
No. 4 Mohammad Reza MOKHTARI (IRI)
No. 5 Valentin PETIC (MDA)
No. 6 Selcuk CAN (TUR)
No. 7 Deyvid DIMITROV (BUL)
No. 8 Robert FRITSCH (HUN)


2021 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold – Malkhas Amoyan (Armenia); Silver – Sergei Kutuzov (RWF); Bronze – Gevorg Sahakyan (Poland); Bronze – Kristupas Sleiva (Lithuania); 5th – Cengiz Arslan (Turkey); 5th – Mohammad Mokhtari (Iran); 7th – Valentin Petic (Moldova); 8th – Ulvu Ganizade (Azerbaijan); 9th – Jiyul Lee (Korea); 10th – Haavard Joergensen (Norway)

2019 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold - Abuiazid Mantsigov (Russia); Silver - Aram Vardanyan (Uzbekistan); Bronze - Aik Mnatsakanian (Bulgaria); Bronze - Balint Korpasi (Hungary); 5th - Michael Felix Widmayer (Germany); 5th - Jiyeon Lee (Korea); 7th - Malkhas Amoyan (Armenia); 8th - Sanan Suleymanov (Azerbaijan); 9th - Iuri Lomadze (Georgia); 10th - Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan)

2018 World Championships
72 kg/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)
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