Where Does Sadulaev Stand In The GOAT Debate?


If you have been around wrestling for a while you have definitely heard the name Abdulrashid Sadulaev. This man has been at the top of the world for a while and has dominated freestyle wrestling for almost 8 years. The crazy part about this is that he is only 25.

Everyone found out that Sadulaev was something special in the 2014 world finals which was his first major tournament on the senior level. He was just 18 years old and won by technical superiority 10-0 over the reigning world silver medalist Reineris Salas Perez of Cuba. This opened up eyes immediately for those who did not already know about him.

The main question is where does Sadulaev fall on the list if we are talking about the greatest wrestlers of all time? He is only 25 so maybe his accolades are not there just yet, however with 2 Olympic titles and 5 World titles at the age of 25 he should surely make a solid case for being on this list right?

In this we will break this entire list down and in what range we would have Sadulaev in, cannot really give him an exact spot being that he is still racking up medals so whatever spot he lands in he will only improve from there.

Let us just get the first three guys on this list out of the way because there should not be any real debate here just yet. Mijain Lopez-Nunez who just won his 4th Olympic Gold medal falls in at number 1, Alexandr Karelin who was known to just terrify his opponents and was almost unbeaten his entire career and won 12 World and Olympic golds. Rounding off the top 3 we have the greatest freestyle wrestler of all time Aleksandr Medved which is a pretty unanimous choice for obvious reasons.

Saori Yoshida 16x World and Olympic Champion falls in at number 4 on this list being the most accomplished women’s wrestlers of all time. Yoshida dominated the field of women’s wrestling and dropped out bout in her career which happened to be the final one in the 2016 Olympic Finals, and to an opponent who she pinned in the previous meetings.

Buvaisar Saitiev falls in at number 5 which is obvious, he is perfect when he medaled at a tournament only getting gold medals at Worlds and the Olympics. Now what holds him back is the fact that he did not medal in the 2000 Olympics and did not make the World team on two separate occasions.

Kaori Icho rounds out the top 6 being the first ever 4x Olympic Champion in wrestling history. Winning 14 World and Olympic golds and never losing a single bout at the World or Olympic tournament. She along with Yoshida lead the way for the dominant women’s wrestling forces of Japan and Icho just recently joined the staff as well.

Number 7 is Carl Westergren who is the oldest wrestler to make this list but deservingly so as he was the first ever to complete the quest of 3 Olympic Golds.

Number 8 is Ivar Johansson of Sweden who goes back to the 30’s where he dominated wrestling becoming a 3x Olympic Champion and even winning 2 gold medals at the 1932 Olympics.

Number 9 is Arsen Fadzaev of the Soviet Union. Winning 8 World and Olympic titles and the only bout he ended up losing was up a weight class to reigning Olympic Champion Kenny Monday off of a comeback it secures him this spot on the list.

Rounding out the list at number 10 we have Sergei Beloglazov who has the exact same resume as Fadzaev with 8 World and Olympic gold medals with one silver. All that breaks this tie is the one silver being at his weight class unlike Fadzaev.

Now this is our top ten completely unbiased. Where can we input Sadulaev into this at the moment. You could make a case for him being number 9 at best and bumping Arsen Fadzaev down to 10 and Sergei Beloglazov off the list which is exactly what we did in out top ten wrestlers of all time article.

If we look at this in the most unbiased way possible you have Sadulaev fall in at number 11 which may shock some people. With his 2 Olympic golds, his 5 World golds, and his 1 World silver he is a single gold medal shy of reaching the level of Fadzaev or Beloglazov. When he gets to that point we would very well make the argument that he was a better and more dominant wrestler than both and that he should fall in at number 9.

In a recent interview a couple months back Sadulaev said that he might be calling his career after the Paris Olympics. This shocked a lot of people but when you think about it that makes sense being he has put his body through so much wrestling at the highest of level since he was 18.

If he were to win out till Paris and announce his retirement where would he fall on this list? We would say that he would overtake Aleksandr Medved as the greatest freestyle wrestler of all time and fall in at number 3 behind Lopez and Karelin. He has always said that he wanted to pass Medved as the greatest of all time and we do not really see him retiring until that happens.

No matter when the tank decides to call it a career he has built up enough of a career to consider himself an all time great and he has built a legacy that will stand forever.

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Akil Murugan
Akil Murugan
Senior Editor for Heavyweight Nation

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