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Top Ten Wrestlers Of All Time

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Honorable Mentions:

#13 Jordan Burroughs (USA) 1x Olympic Gold, 5x World Gold, 3x World Bronze

#12 John Smith (USA) 2x Olympic Gold, 4x World Gold

#11 Sergei Beloglazov (Soviet Union) 2x Olympic Gold, 6x World Gold, 1x World Silver

#10 Arsen Fadzaev (Soviet Union)

It was very hard to pick who should be the number 10 on this list between Arsen Fadzaev and Sergei Beloglazov but we did end up deciding on Arsen. The main reason for this was the slight increase in dominance and ability to score points. Both of these guys were 2x Olympic Champs but only due to the fact that for political reasons they did not compete in the 1984 Olympics. Arsen Fadzaev throughout his reign had a strangle hold on the 68kg weight class where he at one time did not give up a single point for 3 consecutive years which is absolutely insane in freestyle. Fadzaev paved the way for a lot of the wrestlers that came into the lightweights after him such as Mavlet Batirov who himself was a revolutionary wrestler who was way ahead of his time. He did make a final run to try and claim a third Olympic Gold Medal in 1996 but at 34 years of age and now competing for Uzbekistan it just proved to not be in the realm of possibility. Nonetheless Arsen Fadzaev will forever go down as an all time great and one of the wrestlers who changed the freestyle scene forever.

#9 Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia)

Photo By Tony Rotundo

Abdulrashid Sadulaev has already amassed a hall of fame level career and he is only 25 years old. At this point in time he has 2 Olympic Gold Medals and 5 World Gold Medals. He has one single loss and that was to Kyle Snyder of the USA in the 2017 World Finals when Sadulaev bumped up a weight class to take on the Olympic Champion up at 97kg. He ended up dropping that bout by 1 point ruining his chances at a perfect senior level career. That loss proved to motivate Sadulaev a lot and he pinned the American in the 2018 World Finals where he reclaimed his title as king. He defeated Snyder in the Tokyo Olympic Finals along with the 2021 World Finals in Oslo. “Snyderlaev” is now referred to as the biggest rivalry in the sport of wrestling between the two legends. Sadulaev has stated that his goal in the sport before he leaves is to surpass Aleksandr Medved as the greatest freestyle wrestler of all time by winning out until Paris 2024 where he plans to announce retirement.

#8 Ivar Johansson (Sweden)

Ivar Johansson is one of the early pioneers of modern day wrestling. He is a 3x Olympic Champion and the second to ever accomplish this feat. What makes this really crazy is that in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics he won 2 Gold Medals with one coming in Greco-Roman and the other in Freestyle. He essentially dominated the European scene winning 9 championships practically untouched along with doing it in two different styles which is absolutely insane. He essentially picked up where this next man left off and lead the Swedish team to great success throughout his career.

#7 Carl Westergren (Sweden)

Carl Westergren was the first ever wrestler of any style to win 3 Olympic Gold Medals. He competed in the Greco Roman division and was one of the most dominant Olympic wrestlers of all time winning at middleweight, light heavyweight and unlimited in his career. This career resume is also accompanied by 3 European gold medals and a World gold medal. In the 1924 Olympics Westergren competed in both the Freestyle and Greco Roman division. He was able to claim a gold medal in the Greco Roman division and came away with a 6th place finish in the freestyle scene. He paved the way for some of the greatest Greco Roman wrestlers that have ever competed.

#6 Kaori Icho (Japan)

In the 2016 Rio Olympics Kaori Icho made history and became the first ever wrestler to win 4 Olympic Gold medals. Along with this she is a 14x World and Olympic Champion and there is only 1 wrestler with more titles that this. With women’s wrestling only being declared an Olympic Sport in 2004 for Athens she has won every possible Olympic Gold Medal during her career. Icho ended up announcing retirement in 2016 after she made history and won the 4th Gold Medal. At 35 years old after she had been retired for two years Icho decided to try to make a return to the wrestling scene. The motive to this was unknown but it seems like she was trying to go for a 5th gold medal considering Mijain Lopez would be looking to tie her at 4. This was ultimately to no avail and the 35 year old came out with a bronze medal at the Asian Championships. Either way she is a legend and lands herself a 6th place spot on this list.

#5 Buvaisar Saitiev (Russia)

Most people first reaction seeing Saitiev at number 5 is that he is too low and he should be higher. He is a 3x Olympic Champion and 6x World Champion. That itself gives him a hall of fame status, but the real reason is the new ahead of his time technique and savviness he was able to bring to the freestyle scene. As high as his highs in the sport are his low points seemingly will shock a lot of people. In 2000 Saitiev as the defending Olympic Champion failed to claim a medal in Sydney. In 2002 he was not even the representative for Russia as he was beaten out by Magomed Isagadjiev. Again this same situation happened in 2007 where he was beaten out by Makhach Murtazaliev who went on to win a world title that year. Whether this just speaks to the depth that Russia has as a whole or Saitiev just had some down points in his career, Saitiev was able to come back and win his third Olympic Gold in Beijing at 33 years old cementing his legacy for good.

#4 Saori Yoshida (Japan)

The most accomplished wrestler of all time. Saori Yoshida is a 16x World and Olympic Champion and that is what solidifies her the spot at number 4 on this list. During her time Yoshida dominated the field at 55/53kg. She did not lose a match her entire career, until her last match against the USA’s Helen Maroulis. That was one of the biggest upsets of all time, but even with that Yoshida had dominated the American the prior two times they have wrestled and pinned her on both occasions. Yoshida along with Kaori Icho were the anchors to Japans team where they have consistently dominated the world of women’s wrestling.

#3 Aleksandr Medved (Soviet Union)

At this point in time Aleksandr Medved is widely regarded as the greatest freestyle wrestler off all time. Abdulrashid Sadulaev has also said that he is aiming to catch Medved before his career is over. Medved is the most dominant freestyle wrestler the world has seen with his 3 Olympic Gold Medals and 7 World Titles to accompany that. He is a pioneer in the wrestling world and really brought much for attention and eyes to the sport with his wrestling ability. By far the greatest wrestling rivalry of all time between Medved and Osman Duraliev went down on 8 separate occasions with Medved coming out on all 8 occasions. This rivalry brought a huge buildup for any of their matches and changed the scape of the wrestling world. At a point in time Medved would have been number 1 on this list, but what these next two men have done is something special.

#2 Alexandr Karelin (Russia)

Alexandr “the great” was one of the most dominant athletes in history. He went practically untouched in his time as a wrestling racking up 3 Olympic Gold Medals and 9 World Titles. He has wins over American legends Rulon Gardner, Matt Ghaffari, and Jeff Blatnick.

Karelin by most people nowadays is known for his one loss which came against Rulon Gardner in the 2000 Olympic Finals, this is also the match where Karelin announced his retirement. Since then Karelin has gone on to have a very respected career in politics. Upon invitation from Vladimir Putin, in 1999 he began his political career. He joined the United Russia party and was elected to the State Duma as a representative of Novosibirsk Oblast in 1999 and 2003. In 2007 he was elected to the Duma as a representative of Stavropol Krai (United Russian). No matter how you look at Karelin’s career he goes down as a legend and arguably the greatest wrestler of all time.

“He didn’t just dominate the world of Greco-Roman wrestling, for 13 years, he terrified the world of Greco-Roman wrestling! – Philip Hersh, an Olympic sports writer, on Karelin’s legacy

#1 Mijain Lopez-Nunez (Cuba)

Photo By Tony Rotundo

Lopez is only the second ever wrestler to win 4 Olympic Gold Medals. He won most recently in Tokyo where he defeated Georgian Iakobi Kajaia in the finals. There will always be a debate on who the greatest of all time is between Karelin and Lopez. With Lopez possibly coming back to the sport the argument will fall more and more in the favor of the Cuban.

The most impressive part of what Mijain Lopez has done is the fact that he has competed in 5 Olympic Games which is the most out of any of the wrestlers on this list. In 2004 he ended up not making the podium and Khasan Boroev was the champion. This would not stand for long with Lopez taking out Boroev in the finals of the Beijing Olympics to claim his first gold medal.

Lopez was able to defeat Heiki Nabi in the 2012 Olympic Finals. After this came one of the greatest Greco Roman matches of all time between Lopez and familiar foe Riza Kaayalp. Lopez got out to an early 4 point lead when he chest wrapped Kaayalp early and was able to hang on the rest of the bout and did not let up a single point.

It is not known at the moment what the future holds for Mijain Lopez. No matter what he decides to do we feel that he has solidified himself as the greatest of all time.

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