News ID: 324213
Published: 0950 GMT September 19, 2022

Wrestling World Championships: Ruthless Rahman cruises to gold; Iran finishes freestyle runner-up

Wrestling World Championships: Ruthless Rahman cruises to gold; Iran finishes freestyle runner-up

Iran’s Rahman Amouzad celebrates after the victory in the freestyle 65kg final at the Wrestling World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, on September 18, 2022.

Sports Desk

The final day of the Wrestling World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, saw Iranian young gun Rahman Amouzad clinch a second freestyle gold for the country as Iran finished second to USA in the team ranking.

Nicknamed ‘Ruthless Rahman’, the 20-year-old Iranian, who had shown no mercy on his way to the final showdown, delivered yet another aggressive, brave performance to beat American Yianni Diakomihalis 13-8 for the ultimate prize of the 65kg weight class.

A wild and crazy scramble early on produced 14 points, with Diakomihalis, who had not conceded a single point in the previous rounds, being handed an 8-6 lead, thanks to a long video review.

What came next was all about Amouzad relentlessly attacking the opponent as he sealed the victory with three takedowns and a stepout.

"Thank God I was able to win the gold medal," Amouzad said afterwards, adding: "My opponent was very tough. I hope this gold medal will put a smile on the faces of the Iranian people."

Participating at the World Championships for only the second time, Amouzad – an Asian champion in April – has now announced himself as a bright prospect for further domination in the sport, while he joins a crowded race for the 65kg gold at the Paris Olympics in two years’ time.

"The 65kg is a weight class full of extremely tough opponents," Amouzad – also a world cadet and junior gold medalist – said.

"But I am feeling great that I was able to beat my opponents, including former European and world champions, through hard work in Iran. I’ll be looking to defend the title next year, but the ultimate goal is to win the gold in Paris."


Silver lining for Atri


After years of underachievement in the 57kg class on the world stage – probably caused by massive weight losses prior to every tournament – this year’s event could signal a fresh start for the Iranian Reza Atri, despite an underwhelming finish.

Atri, 28, did a decent job reaching the final bout on his 61kg debut, but the Japanese Rei Higuchi proved to be in a league of his own as the 2016 Olympic silver medalist marched to the gold by a technical fall in the first period – just like his teammate Taishi Narikuni did in similar fashion against American Zain Retherford in the 70kg final.

"Yesterday the Iranian looked very strong, so I closely watched all of the videos of him, like the Poland tournament before the Olympics and various others," Higuchi said.

"I watched them all. I think analyzing him was a reason for my victory," added the Japanese, who also beat Iranian Dariush Hazratqolizadeh 10-0 for the Asian gold in April.

Later in the day, Iranian Mohammad-Hossein Mohammadian – the son of two-time Olympic silver medalist Askari – fell to a shock pinfall defeat against Azerbaijan’s Magomedkhan Magomedov in the 97kg third-place bout and failed to add to his 2014 bronze.



Members of the Iranian freestyle team pose with the runner-up trophy at the Wrestling World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, on September 18, 2022.


Americans on top


With the Russians – world champions in 2021 – omitted from the competitions in the Serbian capital, it was always going to be a two-horse race between Iran and the USA for the freestyle team title.

However, when Iran’s Amir-Mohammad Yazdani – a silver medalist in Oslo – was ruled out of the event, due to a reported weigh-in failure, and Milad Sarlak suffered a first-round setback in the 57kg contests, the Americans secured the title before the final day.

There was an even split between the wrestlers from the two geopolitical foes when they squared off in four of the 10 finals, with Amouzad’s triumph being coupled with Kamran Qassempour’s victory over J'den Cox in the 92kg final, while Hassan Yazdani (86kg) and Mohammad Nokhodi (79kg) came short against David Taylor and Jordan Burroughs.

Team USA still enjoyed an overall 4-2 advantage in the head-to-head battles, as Kyle Snyder and Kyle Dake overcame Mohammadian and Younes Emami in the 97kg and 74kg semifinals respectively.

USA was crowned the champion with 198 points, courtesy of a remarkable four golds and silvers apiece.

A number of seven medals, including two bronzes for Emami and Amirhossein Zare’ (125kg), earned 150 points for Iran, with Japan collecting 70 points to finish third.

The seven-medal mark equaled Iran’s all-time high in 1961 and 2021, though the countrey collected more golds on both previous occasions.


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