Kessidis Breaks Azeri Stranglehold on Gold Medals in European U23 Greco-Roman

By William May

SZOMBATHELY, Hungary (April 1) – Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) broke Azerbaijan’s stranglehold on the gold medals Friday by winning the 80kg Greco-Roman title at the European Under-23 Wrestling Championships.

Kessidis defeated returning champion Gela BOLKVADZE (GEO), 4-2, in the 80kg gold medal final at Arena Savaria for his first title in a major international competition. He finished second to his rival in last year’s U23 meet in Bulgaria.

“I’m very happy with the medal,” Kessidis said after receiving his gold medal. “I was happy last year (with the silver), but this is a good medal.”

There was a hint of disappointment in Kessidis’ remarks, however, about the match being decided on passivity points rather than on points earned by executing actual techniques.

“My job is to lock and throw. And that’s what I wanted to do today, but my opponent had other ideas,” remarked Kessidis, who received his victory when the officiating crew awarded him two points in the final minute of the bout as Bolkvadze continued to wrestle defensively.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s team won the other three gold medals on the first evening of wrestling in the classic style along with a bronze medal won by Eltun VAZIRZADE behind Kessidis and Bolkvadze at 80kg. The bronze was the second for Vazirzade in the U23 championships.

In the first gold medal bout of the evening, 2016 runner-up Murad MAMMADOV (AZE) slipped behind Dzhambulat LOKYAEV (RUS) for two points midway through the second period for a 4-2 win at 59kg.

Youth Olympic Games champion Islambek DADOV (AZE) then stunned junior world champion Ramza ZOIDZE (GEO) with a technical fall only two minutes into the first period of the 71kg final -- going from takedown to four-point lift-and-turn, and then a gut wrench to cap the winning flurry.

In the evening’s finale at 98kg, 2014 junior world champion Orkhan NURIEV (AZE) received a pair of passivity points in the first period and added a step-out point in the second for a 3-1 win over Matti KUOSMANEN (FIN).

Also at 98kg, former U23 champions Fatih BASKOY (TUR) and Muhammed SEVER (GER) won the bronze medals.

In the team standings, Azerbaijan heads into the final day, Sunday, of the championships with a 38-29 lead over Georgia. Ukraine is in third place with 26 points, followed by Turkey (24) and host Hungary (2).

Results: Medal Match Finals and Semifinals


59kg (13 entries)
Gold – Murad MAMMADOV (AZE) df. Dshambulat LOKYAEV (RUS), 4-1
Bronze – Justas PETRAVICIUS (LTU) df. Abdurakhman ALTAN (TUR) by Fall, 3:47 (4-1)
Bronze – Dato CHKHARTISHVILI (GEO) df. Alexandru BICIU (MDA), 10-4 

Semifinal – Murad MAMMADOV (AZE) df. Abdurakhman ALTAN (TUR) by TF, 9-1, 3:19
Semifinal – Dshambulat LOKYAEV (RUS) df. Dato CHKHARTISHVILI (GEO), 10-5

71kg (21 entries)
Gold – Islambek DADOV (AZE) df. Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO) by TF, 10-2, 2:01 
Bronze – Artur POLITAEV (UKR) df. Murat DAG (TUR), 7-7
Bronze – Robert FRITSCH (HUN) df. Ricardo ABBRESCIA (ITA), 8-5

Semifinal – Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO) df. Murat DAG (TUR) by TF, 12-3, 3:45 
Semifinal – Islambek DADOV (AZE) df. Robert FRITSCH (HUN) by TF, 8-0, 0:31

80kg (14 entries)
Gold – Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) df. Gela BOLKVADZE (GEO), 4-2 
Bronze – Eltun VAZIRZADE (AZE) df. Yegor KASIANKOV (BLR), 4-2 
Bronze – Andrey ANTONYUK (UKR) df. Peter NAGY (HUN), 5-4

Semifinal – Gela BOLKVADZE (GEO) df. Eltun VAZIRZADE (AZE), 5-1
Semifinal – Alex KESSIDIS (SWE) df. Andrey ANTONIUK (UKR) by TF, 8-0, 0:25

98kg (19 entries)
Gold – Orkhan NURIEV (AZE) df. Matti KUOSMANEN (FIN), 3-1 
Bronze – Muhammed SEVER (GER) df. Mykola KRYSOV (UKR), 3-2
Bronze – Fatih BASKOY (TUR) df. Aleksandr GOLOVIN (RUS), 3-0

Semifinal – Matti KUOSMANEN (FIN) df. Mykola KRYSOV (UKR), 3-1
Semifinal – Orkhan NURIEV (AZE) df. Fatih BASKOY (TUR), 5-4