#WrestleBudapest: Akgul beats Petriashvili to capture ninth European title

By Vinay Siwach

BUDAPEST, Hungary (March 30) -- It was a lasting image. Taha AKGUL (TUR) and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) finished their 125kg final but had no energy to stand up for the winner's announcement. Instead, the two sat, perhaps admiring each other after another memorable chapter in their fancied rivalry. The embrace after the bout was even more emotional.

Akgul, the defending European champion, defeated Petriashvili, 5-2, in the 125kg gold medal bout at the European Championships in Budapest, Hungary. He won his ninth European title and extended his head-to-head record against the Georgian at the Continental Championships to 5-1.

Five wrestlers claimed gold on Wednesday night, but the biggest of the lot was the 125kg match-up. Akgul was under pressure after finishing with bronze at the Olympics and World Championships, while Petriashvili had won silver at those two events.

Akgul held the center in the first period while Petriashvili was satisfied to play it out. Akgul scored three step-outs and a takedown to lead 5-0 at the break. But Petriashvili leveled up in the second period. There were a few scrambles where Petriashvili nearly scored, but Akgul managed to sneak out.

The Rio Olympic champion went for a double leg, but Petraishvili countered that with a go behind and cut the Turkish legend's lead to 5-2. The Georgian finally had the break he wanted, but Akgul was determined to have the gold around his neck.

AkgulTaha AKGUL (TUR), blue, and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) after their 125kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

"It was my goal to come here and break my own record of eight European gold," Akgul said. "It was a great fight against a great wrestler."

The mutual admiration between the two was visible at the medal ceremony, where Petriashvili did not hesitate to congratulate Akgul for his ninth title.

The Tokyo silver medalist enjoys a superior record against Akgul at the World Championships and the Turkey legend hopes he can break that streak soon.

"It's always dramatic with Geno [Petriashvili]," Akgul said. "It's crazy that I keep beating him at the Europeans but he has a streak against me at the Worlds. So I will try to keep winning the gold at Euros and will soon break his streak against me at the World Championships."

But it will be interesting to see when Petriashvili steps on the mat again. After suffering a heartbreaking loss in the Olympic final in Tokyo, many questioned if he would call it quits. Instead, he tried to become a world champion in Oslo, which ended with a silver medal.

Silver in Budapest may be the final nail in the coffin for Petriashvili who stepped down from the podium waving to the small section of Georgian fans in the stands, thanking them for the support of one of Georgia's greatest ever wrestlers.

AkturkFeyzullah AKTURK (TUR) added a senior European title to his U23 title. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Turkey won its second gold at 92kg when Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) defeated Ahmed BATAEV (BUL), 6-1, in the final. Akturk scored four step-outs and a takedown in a final, which he called 'exhausting.'

"I very proud to win and carry the [Turkey] flag," Akturk said. "The final was exhausting but with the gold medal, all the burden of the final fight fades away."

SalkazanovTajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) defended his 74kg European title in Budapest. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

At 74kg, Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) defended his gold medal against two-time world champion Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) in a thrilling final, winning it 7-6 in the final second. Chamizo was set to win 5-5 on criteria, but Salkazanov managed to score a step-out before the clock expired to take the win.

The bout began with a big whizzer from Chamizo, which gave him four points. Salkazanov thought his opponent had stepped out and challenged the call. However, he lost the challenge, and Chamizo led 5-0.

But in the second period, Salkazanov scored an out-of-bounds takedown and then added another. He scored the first step-out with seven seconds remaining and then the final one at the end.

Despite his back-to-back golds, the Oslo silver medalist was not satisfied with his wrestling and thought he could have won it a little easier.

"I am not satisfied with my wrestling," Salkazanov said. "In the beginning, I made a mistake, but even after that I didn't give up, I believed that I could win till the very end. I saw he stepped out and it seemed to me that I got the point. When I threw the challenge, I was still ready to keep wrestling. I was thinking that even if I get that one point, it doesn't mean anything. I had to do my best on the mat. So, I made it happen. I tried hard to attack and I made it."

It was similar to their 1/8 final bout of the '21 European Championships in Warsaw and where Salkazanov scored a four-pointer in the final 10 seconds to beat Chamizo.

But Salkazanov, who lost to Kyle DAKE (USA) in the final in Oslo, wants to better his result at the World Championships in Belgrade later this year.

"My main goal is to become the world champion," he said. "Last year I was one step away from it. After that, I was so disappointed because I was supposed to win that match. I hope this year I will make it happen."

HarutyunyanArsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) won his second European gold. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) also won his second European gold medal as he defeated former world silver medalist Suleyman ATLI (TUR) in the 61kg final. In a dominating performance, Harutyunyan won, 15-3.

Harutyunyan caught Atli by surprise when he threw him for four and then leg laced to lead 6-0. Another single-leg takedown made it 8-0 but Armenia asked for another exposure and the win. He lost the challenge and Atli scored a takedown to cut the Armenian's lead to 8-3.

The U23 World champion went straight on the offensive in the second period and got the takedown, during which Atli called for a medical timeout. When the bout resumed, Atli was forced in par terre, and Harutyunyan managed to finish the bout 15-3 with two gut wrenches.

Myles AMINEMyles AMINE (SMR) defeated Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE) in the 86kg final to claim the gold. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

San Marino wins first gold

Tokyo bronze medalist Myles AMINE (SMR) added another page to San Marino's wrestling history when he won the nation's first-ever European Championships gold by beating Oslo bronze medalist Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE), 9-5, in the final.

Amine, who finished second at the USA's NCAA final two weeks ago, performed with exceptional composure against Abakarov to secure the gold.

"He [Abakarov] is funky," Amine said. "I got in on that first shot and it felt too easy. His left leg is his best defense so I tried to get my attacks on his right leg and that kind of started working and I opened up my attacks. He was a guy that I had to adapt against otherwise I was going to probably lose that match."

Amine was leading 5-4 at one point, but then he scored two takedowns in the final two minutes to steer clear of any Abakarov comeback.

Since winning San Marino's first-ever Olympic medal in wrestling, Amine has been improving and looks to continue that.

"Two weeks ago, I had a tough loss in the final of NCAA," he said. "I beat the guy in the final of Big 10 Championships. I was excited to come and compete to put that loss behind me. As much as I say that I have to agree that in the last 10 months, I have been blessed by god.

"I will take a few weeks off and come back again because that worked after Olympics. Go back to the drawing board and see where I can improve. I am sure I need to improve my par terre."



GOLD: Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df Suleyman ATLI (TUR), 15-3

BRONZE: Eduard GRIGOREV (POL) df Besir ALILI (MKD), 12-2
BRONZE: Georgi VANGELOV (BUL) df Gamzatgadzhi KHALIDOV (HUN), via inj. def.

GOLD: Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) df Frank CHAMIZO (ITA), 7-5


GOLD: Myles AMINE (SMR) df Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE), 9-5 


GOLD: Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) df Ahmed BATAEV (BUL), 6-1

BRONZE: Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO) df Georgii RUBAEV (MDA), 7-2


BRONZE: Robert BARAN (POL) df Abraham CONYEDO RUANO (ITA), 3-2
BRONZE: Daniel LIGETI (HUN) df Magomedgadzhi NURASULOV (SRB), 6-4

WW Semifinals


SF 1: Miglena SELISHKA (BUL) df Anna LUKASIAK (POL), 4-2
SF 2: Evin DEMIRHAN YAVUZ (TUR) df Emilia VUC (ROU), 8-5

GOLD: Andreea ANA (ROU) vs Oleksandra KHOMENETS (UKR)

SF 1: Andreea ANA (ROU) df Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA), 6-0
SF 2: Oleksandra KHOMENETS (UKR) df Bediha GUN (TUR), via fall

GOLD: Jowita WRZESIEN (POL) vs Anastasia NICHITA (MDA)

SF 1: Jowita WRZESIEN (POL) df Alyona KOLESNIK (AZE), 3-1
SF 2: Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) df Elena BRUGGER (GER), 8-0


SF 1: Irina RINGACI (MDA) df Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE), via fall
SF 2: Pauline LECARPENTIER (FRA) df Natalia STRZALKA (POL), 3-2 

GOLD: Epp MAEE (EST) vs Yasemin ADAR (TUR)

SF 1: Epp MAEE (EST) df Catalina AXENTE (ROU), 10-0
SF 2: Yasemin ADAR (TUR) df Bernadett NAGY (HUN), via fall


WATCH: 10 Greco-Roman Finals from European Championships

By Vinay Siwach

BUDAPEST, Hungary (April 7) -- The European Championships saw 10 Greco-Roman champions being crowned. One of them, Riza KAYAALP (TUR), won his 11th European title and is now two away from breaking the all-time record 12.

Azerbaijan won the team title over Turkey while Georgia finished third in the title race. Azerbaijan had all ten wrestlers in medal bouts with eight coming home with at least a medal. Only two wrestlers failed to win a medal in Budapest.

Watch all the 10 gold medal bouts from the European Championships.

55kg GOLD - Eldaniz Azizli (AZE) vs Nugzari Tsurtsumia (GEO)

Azizli wrestled his rival and world champion from 2019 Nugzari Tsurtsumia (GEO). Prior to this meeting, the two had wrestled each other four times with Azizli enjoying a perfect 4-0 record over Tsurtsumia. He extended that record to 5-0 when he won 8-2 in the 55kg final.

Azizli got the point for his opponent's passivity and a roll gave him a 3-1 lead. Tsurtsumia tried exposing with a head pinch but in turn, ended up giving two points. In the same action, Azizli scored two more and led 7-1 with two minutes remaining before closing out the bout 8-2.


60kg GOLD - Kerem Kamal (TUR) vs Edmond Nazaryan (BUL)

Kerem KAMAL (TUR) was third time lucky in the final as he won the gold after previously losing two finals in 2020 and 2021. But in his third final in three years, he defeated former European champ Edmond NAZARYAN (BUL) 5-0 to win at 60kg.


63kg GOLD - Leri Abuladze (GEO) vs Taleh Mammadov (AZE)

Georgia did have a gold medalist Saturday as U23 World champion Leri Abuladze (GEO) added a European title to his resume. He wrestled Taleh Mammadov (AZE) in the 63kg final and controlled it well. His one scoring action in par terre in the second period was enough to give him a 3-1 win over Mammadov, his first in two meetings.


67kg GOLD - Murat Firat (TUR) vs Krisztian Vancza (HUN)

Murat FIRAT (TUR) denied Krisztian VANCZA (HUN) a gold medal at home. In the close final, Firat used an exposure close to the zone to win 3-1. Vancza had his chance to take the lead when Firat was called passive but he did not manage to score any points from par terre in the second period.


72kg GOLD - Robert Attila Fritsch (HUN) vs Shmagi Bolkvadze (GEO)

Robert FRITSCH (HUN) upset Rio bronze medalist Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO), 3-2, at the 72kg final. In one of the closest bouts of the tournament, Bolkvadze led 1-0 at the break for a passivity point. But Fritsch bounced back with a gut wrench from par terre to lead 3-1. A reversal point for Bolkvadze but his lead to 3-2 but he managed to hang on for the win.


77kg GOLD - Malkhas Amoyan (ARM) vs Yunus Emre Basar (TUR)

Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) won the 77kg European title. The world champion at 72kg was making his debut at 77kg and wrestled Yunus Basar (TUR) in the final. He was called passive and gave up a gut wrench to trail 3-0 at the break. But he got the same action using a chest wrap in the second period to lead 3-3 on criteria.

Turkey challenged the call asking for a leg foul but the judges found no negative wrestling which gave another point to Amoyan, extending his lead 4-3 with two minutes remaining.

The silver medalist from Warsaw European Championships was again called passive but this time Basar could not get any exposure from par terre as Amoyan let out a loud scream to celebrate his maiden gold at the continental championships.


82kg GOLD - Rafig Huseynov (AZE) vs Gela Bolkvadze (GEO)

In a historic feat, Rafiq HUSEYNOV (AZE) became the first-ever Azerbaijan wrestler to win three European titles. Wrestling Gela BOLKVADZE (GEO) in the 82kg final, Huseynov gave up a point for passivity but defended the par terre position. Georgia asked for a challenge for Huseynov's fleeing but lost it. Huseynov got the second point from Bolkvadze's passivity and kept the 2-1 lead to win the gold.


87kg GOLD - Turpan BISULTANOV (DEN) vs Nicu OJOG (ROU)

Bisultanov won the gold for Denmark at the European championship, outscoring his opponents 35-0 over two days and with his crowd-pleasing style became a fan favorite in Budapest. Wrestling Nicu Ojog (ROU) in the 87kg final, Bisultanov took only one minute and 13 seconds to finish the bout 8-0. In his four bouts, he did not wrestle the full six minutes in any, spending just over 13 minutes on the mat.


97kg GOLD - Kiril MILOV (BUL) vs Arvi SAVOLAINEN (FIN)

Kiril MILOV (BUL) upgraded from his silver in 2019. With fond memories of Budapest, he changed the color of his medal with an error-less performance in the final against Arvi SAVOLAINEN (FIN), 4-1. Milov got the match-deciding gut wrench in the second period to defeat the former U23 world champion Savolainen who won the title in Budapest three years ago.


130kg GOLD - Riza KAYAALP (TUR) vs Danila SOTNIKOV (ITA)

Riza Kayaalp (TUR) is on a mission to break Alexander Karelin (RWF) record of 12 European gold medals. He took another step closer to that by winning his 11th gold in Budapest. The four-time world champion defeated Danila Sotnikov (ITA), 4-0 in the 130kg final using a head-pinch exposure when the Italian was trying to push him out.