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Gatsalov vs. Ibragimov is the new “Bout of the Week” on USA Wrestling Audio/Video website



USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .

The featured match this week is the Khadjimurad Gatsalov vs. Magomed Ibragimov gold medal match at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. in men's freestyle at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

This match featured a talented Russian athlete, Gatsalov, who was emerging as a top international star, against a veteran wrestler from Uzbekistan, who was having the best performance of his career.

Both of these athletes came through the Russian development system. Gatsalov only had one appearance for Russia in the age-group level, winning a Junior World title at 185 pounds in 2001. Ibragimov placed sixth in the 1999 Cadet World Championships wrestling for Russia, then was a European Cadet champion on the Russian team in 2000.

Ibragimov's first competition representing Uzbekistan came in 2001 when he was a silver medalist at the Junior World Championships. By 2002, Ibragimov became the top Senior level wrestler in his weight class in Uzbekistan, placing ninth in the World Championships at 97 kg.

At 84 kg, Gatsalov was in a very loaded weight class for Russia in freestyle, which also featured 2000 Olympic champion Adam Saitiev, along with Junior World champion Sajid Sajidov. Gatsalov competed at 84 kg in the 2002 and 2003 World Cups, winning gold medals for Russia. However, he was not able to move up to the No. 1 spot on the Russian team at this division.

At the 2003 European Championships, Gatsalov moved up to 96 kg, and his career made a big turn for the better. He won the gold medal at his new weight class, then returned in 2004 to win the European title once again. It was Gatsalov that Russia chose to represent them at the 2004 Olympic Games at this weight class, ahead of 2001 World champion Georgi Gogchelidze and 2003 World Team member Taimuraz Tigiev.

Ibragimov competed for Uzbekistan in both the 2002 and 2003 World Championships, but fell short of the medal rounds. He also claimed a Junior World gold medal for Uzbekistan in 2003. He entered the Olympic Qualification Tournaments in 2004, and was able to qualify his nation for the 2004 Olympic Games at 96 kg. He also entered the Olympics with some additional momentum, after claiming a gold medal at the 2004 Asian Championships.

At the Athens Games, Ibragimov was drawn into a competitive pool, where he defeated Aleksei Krupniakov of Kyrgyzstan and Krassimir Kotchev of Bulgaria to advance. In the quarterfinals, he stopped Wang Yuanyan of China, 4-1, then upset 1998 World champion Ali Reza Heidari of Iran, 6-4 in the semifinals.

Gatsalov won his pool competition over Vadym Tasoev of Ukraine and Rolf Scherer of Switzerland. His quarterfinal win was a 3-0 decision over Alexander Shemarov of Belarus, and he defeated American Daniel Cormier in the semifinals by a 5-0 margin.

The finals match was competitive, with Gatsalov winning the gold medal in a 4-1 decision over Ibragimov. Heidari came back to capture the bronze medal, defeating Cormier.

Since then, Gatsalov has continued to dominate the 96 kg division in freestyle, winning World gold medals in 2005 in Budapest, Hungary and 2006 in Guangzhou, China. He had established himself as one of the world's best wrestlers. His championship match in 2006 against Gogchelidze, who now competes for Georgia, was one of the best bouts of the entire championship.

Ibragimov has not wrestled on the international level since his loss in Athens to Gatsalov.

This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history. Posted in the archive section of the Members Only web page was the 2006 Joe Warren vs. David Bedinadze gold medal finals at 60 kg/132 lbs. in men's Greco-Roman at the World Wrestling Championships in Guangzhou, China. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.
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