Mens Freestyle Champs At The 2000 Olympics


The 2000 Olympic Games for wrestling as a whole carried some spectacular upsets, on the Greco-Roman side of things Rulon Gardner pulled off possibly the greatest upset of all time. There was a massive upset on the freestyle side of things that not many people talk about

55kg- Namig Abdullayev (Azerbaijan)

Abdullayev was a very accomplished wrestler in the international scene however he would only win one gold medal at the world or Olympic championships.

He would defeat American Sammie Henson in the finals of the 2000 Olympics 4-3 to win gold. He had a rough draw at the 1996 Olympics taking silver falling to Bulgaria’s Valentin Yordanov in the gold medal bout.

In addition to the Olympic medals, Abdullayev has three world silver medals, and a bronze. He is also a 3x European Champion, 2x silver medalist, and bronze medalist.

58kg- Alireza Dabir (Iran)

A lot of you will know who Alireza Dabir is due to him being the president of the Iran wrestling federation. He was very accomplished in the wrestling scene as an athlete as well.

Dabir won the Olympics in a tough weight class which featured Ukrainian Yevhen Buslovych, and American Terry Brands. Dabir defeated both of them en route to Olympic gold.

In addition to his Olympic gold, Dabir also won a world title as well as 3 silver medals at the World Championships. Injuries would take over his career a few years later and he would call it a career after the Athens Olympics in 2004.

63kg- Murad Umakhanov (Russia)

Umakhanov would win the sole medal of his career at the Sydney Olympic Games and it would end up being gold. 

The 63kg weight class contained wrestlers such as 4x world and Olympic champion Elbrus Tedeyev of Ukraine, 2x world champion Serafim Barzakov of Bulgaria, world champion Mohammad Talaei of Iran, as well as a notable wrestler Cary Kolat of the United States.

69kg- Daniel Igali (Canada)

Igali was a Nigerian born wrestler who competed for Canada. He would win Olympic gold in 2000, and also claim gold at the 1999 world championships.

The only real notable wrestler that would be in the field would be Arayik Gevorgyan of Armenia. Gevorgyan would be defeated by Russian Arsen Gitinov in the group stage.

Igali would later become president of the Nigerian wrestling foundation.

76kg- Alexander Leipold (Germany)*

This weight at the 2000 Olympics would be an absolute mess as far as things go. Brandon Slay of the United States would pull a massive upset over reigning champion Buvaisar Saitiev in the group stage making Saitiev fall to 10th and not be included in the championship bracket.

Moon Eui-Jae of South Korea and Alexander Leipold of Germany would meet in the semifinals of the tournament which would cause Eui-Jae to fall to the bronze medal match where he dominated without issue.

Brandon Slay and Alexander Leipold would meet in the finals and Leipold would win a decisive 4-0 shutout.

Leipold would later test positive for a couple banned substances causing him to be stripped of his Olympic gold and it would be given to Brandon Slay of the United States.

Fun Fact: also in this bracket would be Pejman Dorostkar of Iran. Dorostkar is currently the head coach of the Iran wrestling team and has led them to tremendous success these past years.

85kg- Adam Saitiev (Russia)

Adam Saitiev, the brother of Buvaisar Saitiev, wrestled up a weight class for the majority of his career. Even in doing so he was able to win an Olympic gold medal, along with a world championships gold medal up a weight. He also won a world title at 76kg.

To this day Saitiev’s win over Cuba’s Yoel Romero is looked at as one of the most dominant displays in an Olympic gold medal match. Saitiev would trip Romero to his back, and counter a throw for the fall to win.

97kg- Sagid Murtazaliev (Russia)

Murtazaliev would be a 2x gold medalist winning at the 1999 world championships and the 2000 Olympic games both in the 97kg weight category.

The weight class had a few notable names such as Eldar Kurtanidze or Georgia, as well as Alireza Heidari of Iran, and Arawat Sebejew of Germany.

130kg- David Musulbes (Russia)

Musulbes will go down as one of the more underrated champions from the 2000 games. He defeated eventual 3x champion Artur Taymazov in the finals 5-2 to win gold.

Also in the weight class besides the two would be Abbas Jadidi of Iran, Kerry McCoy of the United States, and Alexis Rodrigues of Cuba.

Musulbes would go on to win the next world championships and would then transfer his citizenship to Slovakia a few years later.

Musulbes would lose to Taymazov in 2008 and win the bronze medal, after Taymazov got stripped of his golds Musulbes would be granted the 2008 silver medal.

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Akil Murugan
Akil Murugan
Senior Editor for Heavyweight Nation

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