Ever wonder where the endless cavalcade of sick Russian freestyle wrestlers are coming from? Check out this map!
The Caucasus region pretty thoroughly dominates. By my count, over half of all the medals won in the Athens, Beijing and London Olympics were by wrestlers born in and around the Caucasus Mountains. That’s kind of absurd. The Caucasus region is roughly comparable to Pennsylvania, the wrestling powerhouse of the United States, in area and population. Sons of PA have claimed one solitary bronze medal in the last three Olympics, by Coleman Scott in 2012.
Even crazier is the proportion of Ossestian wrestlers winning medals. I count 18 Ossestian medals (some of those pin points count for 3 or 4 competitors born in the same city). That’s an out-of-control 23% of all medals up for grabs. Ossetia (or Alania) is a fascinating nation. Iranian speaking and Eastern Othordox worshiping, Osesstians are the only ethnicity found in large numbers on both North and South sides of the Caucasus mountain range. The capital of North Osesstia, founded by Russian imperial conquerors in the 18th Century, is called Vladikavkaz, literally King of the Caucasus. That is bad ass.
Ossestia is roughly comparable in size and population to the Lehigh Valley in Eastern Pennsylvania. Ossestians are bad ass.
It should also probably be noted that many Ossestians compete for countries other than Russia and Georgia (where their North and South homelands are respectively located), which allow them more opportunities to win Olympic medals than if they were all stuck under the same Soviet flag like back in the day. But when compared to American medal production, i think its safe to say that the only weight were any US wrestlers might be considered ‘stuck’ is 74 kgs, behind the indomitable Jordan Burroughs, and it’s not like the next guys down on the ladder, Kyle Dake, David Taylor, Nick Marable, etc, are going to be favored to win any international medals. Not that they aren’t total studs, it’s just that these Caucasus folks (don’t call them Caucasians!) are operating on another level.
Here’s a link to the whole map, peruse at your leisure!
View Olympic Wrestlers 2004-12 in a full screen map