Been a while since my last post so I thought I’d break my silence by previewing the Euro Games’ men’s freestyle competition that kicks off tonight at the ghastly hour of 1:00am EST. I’m not at all qualified to create any meaningful preview or provide any real insight but guess what? I’m going to do it anyway. I mean who’s going to stop me?
Only the 4 weights being wrestled tomorrow have their brackets up, so that cuts my work load in half right off the bat.. I’ll go through them and see if there are any names I recognize. Then: MY WORTHLESS PREDICTIONS.
57: My main Georgian Vlad Kinchegasvili has a nice top bracket draw. There are 17 entries so only 1 pigtail (sorry Estonia and Greece, but you weren’t winning anything anyway). Kinche was 2nd at last year’s worlds. His toughest opponent will probably be the Belarussian Uladzislav Andreyeu. Haha, that name is redic. Don’t know why Belarussians use U’s instead of V’s but that name transliterated is: Glorious-Ruler Anderson. Nice. He took 3rd at worlds and lost to Kinche along the way.
The Russians are sending Lebedev, a Turkish speaking Siberian bad ass who has 2 gold medals. Russia has more world medalists at this weight class just chilling at home because they are Russia and have stupid depth at certain weights.
MY WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Gold – Kinche; Silver – Lebedev; Bronzes – Andreyeu & Aliyev AZE (when in doubt, go with the home country, and just assume one of their names will be Ali because they are Shiite Turks, not Sunnis, usually).
65: 22 entries in this stacked weight class. The random draw of death has paired 2013 Euro bronze medalist Ilyas Bekbulatov of Russia with Toghrul Asgarov from Azerbaijan. Bekbulatov is a Kumyk (Turkish speaking) Dagestani who recently won the super tough Yarygan Tournament by beating American super stud Brent Metcalf in the finals. All Asgarov did was defeat the legendary Besik Kudukhov (RIP) in the 2012 Olympics gold medal match as a 19 year old. NBD. Also in the deadly half of the bracket is 2013 World Champ David Safaryan from Armenia and Bulgarian Boris Novachkov, a 2014 Euro Bronze medalist and NCAA All American at Cal-Poly.
On the slightly less brutal side of the bracket is Frank Chamizo. Frank is representing Italy but also the Cuban wrestling program from whence he came.
MY WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Gold – Asgarov; Silver Chamizo; Bronzes – Bekbulatov & Arlin Curri, a 19 year old Kosovoan. That’s my dark horse fyi.
74: Probably most interesting (to me anyway) thing about this weight is the lack of participation by Denis Tsargush. Because of the insane depth of the Russian Federation, the reigning world champ and feller of Jordan Burroughs will be sitting this one out. In his place is Aniuar Geduev, a 2X European champion. God damn Russians. Though Gedeuv is Circassian, a people who used to rule a broad swath of land between the Caspian and Black seas north of the Caucasus Mountains. The Tsarist Russian Empire essentially obliterated these people and their culture in the mid 19th Century. So he’s kind of like a Russian Jim Thorpe.
Gedeuv wrestles Shabanau of Belarussia (there are those V’s pretending to be U’s again) in the first round. 22 entries and those 2 are one of the pigtails. There are a couple of veterans I recognize in the other half of the bracket. Terziev of Bulgaria and Hasanov from AZE. I hate rooting against wrestlers, even random foreign ones, but I want to see Burrough’s revenge on Tsargush in Vegas this year so I hope Gedeuv craps the bed and the Russian coaches make an executive decision to pull Geduev and plug T-Goosh into the line up. Not likely to happen, though.
MY WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Gold – Gedeuv; Silver – Hasanov; Bronzes – Terziev & Brzozowski from Poland (As if you couldn’t guess). I’ve seen his name before (tough to forget) and figure he’s due.
97: Last weight of the day. 20 participants. Hilariously, this includes 3 of the 4 medal winners from the 2014 World Championships, WHICH INCLUDES lab grown super human and reigning champ Abdusalam Gadisov, the toast of Dagestan. Dagestan has their own very nice wrestling website. These guys like and support their freestyle wrestling. Gadisov also plays nemesis to Khetag Gazyumov (or Xetaq Qazyumov), an Azerbaijani by way of Ossetia (so a Persian speaking Orthodox Christian (probably) in a predominantly Turkish speaking Muslim country) who’s won 3 silver worlds, 1 gold worlds, and 2 bronze colored Olympic medals. Those two are in a collision course for the semis in the lower half of the bracket.
The top half, meanwhile, has experienced punishers Bolukbashi from Turkey, Andriytsev from Ukraine and Odikadze from Georgia. This is why the break up of the Soviet Union has been so great for international wrestling – though not so great for America’s medal count. It broke up the USSR log jam. Russia is deep enough as it is, but if you were to stitch back together all the all old soviet republics, you would rob fans of the opportunity to see so may great competitors. I also enjoy dorking out on wikipedia reading about all the diverse nations and people that make up the wrestling mad parts of the world. Quite the kaleidoscope of language, religion and ethnicities. Fun trivia: the only predominantly Turkish speaking Christian ethnicity I am aware of are the Gagauz, found in southern Moldova. But they aren’t good at wrestling so screw them. Anyway…
MY WORTHLESS PREDICTIONS: Gold – Gadisov; Silver – Andriytsev; Bronzes – Gaz & Odi.
OK, that’s about all the worthless predictions and mindless country origin babel I’ve got in me tonight. 10pm, only 3 hours until first whistle! Let’s see how long I last. I’m guessing I’m racked out no later than 2. Good luck to everyone attempting to tell the Sandman to get stuffed tonight.