PC: Tony Rotundo

Mens Freestyle Wrestling Champs At The 2020 Olympics


The Tokyo Olympic games would be held in 2021 after getting postponed but were still branded as the 2020 games. This tournament would be very different with having no fans present and having the year long delay.

There would be some great stories from this Olympics in the men’s freestyle division. Takuto Otoguro winning gold in his home country, Abdulrashid Sadulaev picking up his 6th gold medal, as well as 21 year old Gable Steveson’s miracle comeback for gold.

All of the wrestlers who won gold at the Tokyo Olympics are still active and we will get to see the majority of them for quite some time until they call it a career.

57kg- Zavur Uguev (Russia)

PC: Tony Rotundo

Zavur Uguev was the favorite coming into the Olympic games, winning world titles in 2018 and 2019 leading up to Tokyo.

His first two matches would both be won by razor thin margins as he defeated Thomas Gilman of the United States 5-4, and Gulomjon Abdullaev of Uzbekistan 6-6 on criteria.

Uguev would pick it up in his next two bouts defeating Iran’s Reza Atri 8-3 and Ravi Kumar of India 7-4 to claim Olympic gold.

As of now (January 2023) Uguev has not competed in any major tournament since the Olympic games. He along with other teammates sat out the 2021 world championships which immediately followed the Olympics, and Russia was banned from the 2022 world championships.

65kg- Takuto Otoguro (Japan)

PC: Tony Rotundo

Coming into the Olympic games everyone knew that Otoguro was a threat to win gold. The Japanese superstar won his first gold medal at the 2018 world championships when he defeated India’s Bajrang Punia at just 19 years old.

The doubt for many was his performance at the 2019 world championships where he lost to Russia’s Gadzhimurad Rashid, as well as Hungary’s Ismael Musukaev finishing 5th. He did recently come back from a knee injury so that of course contributed to this.

Otoguro would start off his Olympic run defeating Mongolia’s Tulga Tumur-Ochir 6-3 which would just be the start of the gauntlet he needed to get through to win gold.

He would meet Ismael Musukaev in the next match, the man who knocked him out of the world championships in 2019. This time it would be a decisive win by Otoguro 4-1 to advance him to the semifinals where he would face the other man who beat him, Gadzhimurad Rashidov.

Otoguro would be able to sneak past Rashidov 3-2 in a match that still has a good bit of controversy behind it. He would advance to the finals.

In the finals awaiting him would be 3x world champion Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan who was looking to win his first gold medal since 2017. This match would be fireworks with both wrestlers exchanging takedowns. Otoguro would gain his lead and evade, he would get hit with passivity calls but would be able to get the win 5-4 winning gold in his home country.

74kg- Zaurbek Sidakov (Russia)

PC: Tony Rotundo

Zaurbek came into the Olympic games as an overwhelming favorite after winning the world championships in 2018 and 2019 and his notable wins over Jordan Burroughs and Frank Chamizo.

What many wrestling fans were looking towards would be the projected final between Sidakov and the United States’ Kyle Dake. This match would not end up happening after Dake was upended by Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov of Belarus.

There wouldn’t be much to talk about from Sidakov’s matches being he dominated them all without issue out scoring his opponents 43-8 in the main championships bracket to win Olympic gold.

He would meet Kadimagomedov of Belarus in the finals after he had beaten Dake, and Chamizo. This finals match would be all Sidakov however as the Russian put on a dominant display resulting in a 7-0 shutout.

Along with teammate Zavur Uguev, Sidakov has not wrestled since the Tokyo Olympics due to sitting out in 2021 and Russia being banned in 2022.

86kg- David Taylor (United States)

PC: Tony Rotundo

David Taylor would come into the Olympic games as the favorite to win gold even after coming back from an injury that sidelined him for the 2019 world championships.

Iran’s Hassan Yazdani who won gold in 2016 (74kg) would be waiting for him in the finals as both Taylor and Yazdani dominated their weight class with ease.

Taylor had won the prior two meetings at the 2017 world cup and the 2018 world championships. This match would go down to the wire.

Yazdani held the lead pretty much the entire match and was up 3-2 with about 15 seconds left. Taylor would be pushing the pace hard and eventually caught Yazdani on his heels and drove through for a double to take the lead 4-3 and be crowned an Olympic gold medalist.

Since the Olympics these two have met twice. Once at the 2021 world championships where Yazdani was finally able to get the better of Taylor 6-2, and recently at the 2022 world championships where Taylor put on an absolute masterclass winning 7-1.

97kg- Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia)

PC: Tony Rotundo

Sadulaev coming into the Olympic games would be the unanimous pound for pound number one wrestler in the world as he had been for most of his career.

He had won gold medals at the world championships in 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2019. Sadulaev was also an Olympic gold medalist in 2016 where he won down a weight class at 86kg being just 20 years old.

When the brackets dropped for the 97kg weight class there was a lot of speculation of whether Sadulaev would be able to get it done or not since he suffered an injury not too long before.

Sadulaev would show the world why he is at that number one position as he ran through Sharif Sharifov, Elizbar Odikadze, and Reineris Salas to get to the finals.

Here he would face his toughest test in Kyle Snyder of the United States. Snyder is one of two wrestlers that has ever beaten Sadualev on the senior level to this day.

He would end up defeating Snyder 6-3 to win his 2nd Olympic gold. They would meet again in the world finals and it would be even more dominant for Sadulaev with a 6-0 shutout.

125kg- Gable Steveson (United States)

PC: Tony Rotundo

Gable Steveson came into the Olympic games as a massive wildcard. Until this point the only tournament Steveson had won would be the Pan-American Championships.

Steveson would have to get through a gauntlet of Taha Akgul the reigning Olympic champion, Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur of Mongolia, and 3x world champion Geno Petriashvili.

He would dominate Akgul in the quarterfinals 8-0 which would open the worlds eyes to how good he actually was. In the semifinals Steveson defeated Munkhtur 5-0. Most expected his finals match vs Geno Petriashvili to be a blowout following his prior matches.

The finals match vs Petriashvili would be all Steveson from the start gaining a solid lead.  A takedown and a couple gut wrenches from Petriashvilii would be all he needed to put himself in the lead.

He would be trailing by 3 with around 10 seconds on the clock, Steveson scored the first takedown closing the gap to 1. With under a second left on the clock Steveson would get a go behind on the 3x world champion to win Olympic gold.

Since then Steveson won his second national title on the collegiate scene and announced his retirement from the sport. He is now part of the WWE.

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Akil Murugan
Akil Murugan
Senior Editor for Heavyweight Nation

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