11 Reigning Champs Looking to Reclaim Asian Supremacy

By Eric Olanowski

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (April 12) – Eleven gold medalists from last year’s Asian Championships return to the mat this week in Almaty with hopes of defending their New Delhi continental crowns from a year ago. Greco-Roman welcomes six returning champions, while a trio of women’s wrestlers and a pair of freestyle champs are searching for back-to-back podium-topping finishes.

Iran’s loaded Greco-Roman squad is highlighted by ’20 Asian champions Poya Soulat DAD MARZ (IRI), Amin Yavar KAVIYANINEJAD (IRI) and Mahdi Asgar EBRAHIMI (IRI). They’ll wrestle at 55kg, 72kg and 82kg, respectively.

The other three returning Greco-Roman champs making the trip to Kazakhstan are Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB), Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) and Kumar SUNIL (IND). Tasmuradov, a Rio Olympic bronze medalist, is not only looking to defend his '20 title, but he’s looking for a sixth overall Asian gold medal. He’ll wrestle at 63kg. Last year’s 77kg and 130kg champs, respectively, Shadukayev and Sunil, will compete at their title-winning weights from ’20.

Japan’s women’s team claimed five of the ten golds last year, but after contract tracing removed the defending team champions from the competition, women’s wrestling welcomes the trio of reigning champions Pinki PINKI (IND), Sarita SARITA (IND) and Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ).

Pinki is entered at 55kg. Her biggest threat to repeating is her ’20 finals opponent Dulguun MUNKHBOLD BOLORMAA (MGL). Sarita and Bakbergenova are the lone returning medalists at 59kg and 72kg, respectively.

In freestyle, lightweight stars Kumar RAVI (IND) and Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) are looking to claim a second consecutive continental crown. 

Returning champ Ravi is entered at 57kg – the same weight where he claimed his ’19 world bronze. 

Otoguro will share the 65kg bracket with his ’20 Asian finals opponent Bajrang BAJRANG (IND) and ’19 world silver medalist Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ).

Wrestling begins on Tuesday (April 13-18) at 11:00 (local time) with Greco-Roman action. Women's wrestling takes center stage on Thursday while freestyle action closes out the tournament beginning on Friday.

Returning Champs by Style:
57kg - Kumar RAVI (IND)
65kg - Takuto OTOGURO (JPN)

50kg - Poya Soulat DAD MARZ (IRI)
63kg - Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB)
72kg - Amin Yavar KAVIYANINEJAD (IRI)
77kg - Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ)
82kg - Mahdi Asgar EBRAHIMI (IRI)
87kg - Kumar SUNIL (IND)

Women’s Wrestling
55kg - Pinki PINKI (IND)
59kg - Sarita SARITA (IND)
72kg - Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ)