BY CRAIG SESKER USA WRESTLING | AUG. 14, 2014, 7:14 P.M. (ET)
Date of competition: Monday, Sept. 9
A change in weight classes by international governing body FILA has bumped the lightest freestyle division up two kilograms to 57 kg/125.5 lbs. this year.
There will be a number of top young studs gunning for World gold medals at the 2014 World Championships, set for Sept. 8-14 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Iran’s Hassan Rahimi won the World title at 55 kilos last year and is ranked No. 6 in the World at 57 kilos by FILA. Rahimi was a 2011 World bronze medalist.
2010 and 2011 World champion Viktor Lebedev of Russia is back looking strong again. He won the 2014 Russian Nationals and is ranked No. 2 in the World. He’s been one of the most dominant lightweights on the planet in recent years.
Lebedev edged Rahimi 4-3 in an action-packed, scramble-filled battle at March’s World Cup in Los Angeles.
2012 Olympic silver medalist Vladimir Khinchagashvili of Georgia has ascended to the No. 1 World ranking at 57 kilos. The Georgian won the European Championships and the Golden Grand Prix in Azerbaijan this season. He beat Yarygin Grand Prix winner Rustam Ampar of Russia in the semifinals of the Golden Grand Prix.
2013 World silver medalist Amit Kumar of India earned a title at the Commonwealth Games is a proven competitor in this division.
Kazakhstan’s Raul Kaliyev, fifth at the 2013 Worlds, has had a strong season and is ranked No. 3 in the World this year at 57 kilos. He won the Asian Championships this year.
Azerbaijan is always strong in the lightweight division and features World No. 5 Ahkmednabi Gvarzotilov in this division. He placed second at the Golden Grand Prix in his home country.
University World champion Fimitake Morishita of Japan is ranked fourth in the World on the Senior level in this weight class.
2013 World bronze medalist Sezar Akgul of Turkey is another wrestler to watch at 57 kilos.
The U.S. has traditionally enjoyed great success in this weight class at the Olympics, but has not won a medal at the World or Olympic level in the lightest division since Henry Cejudo struck gold at the 2008 Olympics.
Newcomer Tony Ramos has landed the U.S. spot in this weight class. He is a young, hungry and confident wrestler who has medal aspirations.
Ramos, who won an NCAA title in March as an Iowa Hawkeye senior, has adjusted well to freestyle. He won the World Team Trials and followed with a title at the Canada Cup. Ramos beat Angel Escobedo, fifth at the 2013 Worlds, and 2012 Olympian Sam Hazewinkel at the 2014 World Team Trials.
Ramos placed fifth at the 2009 Junior World Championships. Ramos is unranked, but he’s a wrestler who has thrived in an underdog role and don’t be surprised if he turns in a strong showing in Tashkent.
FILA WORLD RANKINGS
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – 1. Vladimir Khinchegashvili (Georgia); 2. Viktor Lebedev (Russia); 3. Rasul Kaliev (Kazahkstan); 4. Fimitake Morishita (Japan); 5. Ahkmednabi Gvarzotilov (Azerbaijan); 6. Hassan Rahimi (Iran); 7. Erdenebat Bekhbayar (Mongolia); 8. Amit Kumar (India); 9. Damdinbazar Tsogtbaatar (Mongolia); 10. Samat Nadyrbek Uulu (Kyrgyzstan); 11. Artyom Gebekov (Russia): 12. Zoheir El Ouarraqe (France); 13. Andrei Dukov (Romania); 14. Ghenadi Tulbea (Mongolia); 15. Garik Barseghyan (Armenia); 16. Sezer Akgul (Turkey); 17. Yashar Aliev (Azerbaijan); 18. Welson Ebikewenimo (Nigeria); 19. Vladislav Andreev (Belarus); 20. Jin Jong-Hak (North Korea).
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2013 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. – Gold – Hassan Rahimi (Iran); Silver – Amit Kumar (India); Bronze – Sezar Akgul (Turkey); Bronze – Nariman Israpilov (Russia); 5th – Angel Escobedo (USA); 5th – Rasul Kaliyev (Kazakhstan); 7th – Zoheir El Ouarraqe (France); 8th – Altynbek Alymbaev (Kyrgyzstan); 9th – Bekhbayar Erdenebat (Mongolia); 10th – Giorgi Edisherashvili (Georgia)
2012 Olympic Games
55 kg/121 lbs. – Gold – Dzhamel Otarsulatnov (Russia); Silver – Vladimir Khinchagashvili (Georgia); Bronze – Kyong-Il Yang (North Korea); Bronze – Shinichi Yumoto (Japan); 5th – Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan); 5th – Radoslav Velikov (Bulgaria); 7th – Mihran Jaburyan (Armenia); 8th – Hassan Rahimi (Iran); 9th – Ahmet Peker (Turkey); 10th – Amit Kumar (India)
2011 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. – Gold – Viktor Lebedev (Russia); Silver – Radoslav Velikov (Bulgaria); Bronze – Daulet Niyabekov (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Hassan Rahimi (Iran); 5th – Mihran Jaburyan (Armenia); 5th – Nick Simmons (USA); 7th – Vladimer Khinchegashvili (Georgia); 8th – Shinichi Yumoto (Japan); 9th – Nurlan Makenaliev (Kyrgyzstan); 10th – Bayaraa Naranbaatar (Mongolia)
2010 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. – Gold – Viktor Lebedev (Russia); Silver – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Frank Chamizo (Cuba); Bronze – Yasuhiro Inaba (Japan); 5th – Hyo-Sub Kim (Korea); 5th – Naranbaatar Bayaraa (Mongolia); 7th – Radoslav Velikov (Bulgaria); 8th – Rizvan Gadzhiev (Belarus); 9th – Obe Blanc (USA); 10th – Hassan Rahimi (Iran)
2009 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. – Gold – Kyong-Il Yang (North Korea); Silver – Sezar Akgul (Turkey); Bronze – Viktor Lebedev (Russia); Bronze – Rizvan Gadzhiev (Belarus); 5th – Krasimir Krastanov (Great Britain); 5th – Namig Sevdimov (Azerbaijan); 7th – Mykola Aivazian (Ukraine); 8th – Mihan Jaburyan (Armenia); 9th – Hyo-Sub Kim (Korea); 10th – Hassan Rahimi (Iran)