Hungary’s Robert Fritsch (72 kg) gritting his teeth to gold was one of the bigger stories to come out of the European Championships earlier this month. All four of Fritsch’s bouts were very close. Nail-bitingly close. So close, that at the end of the tournament Fritsch’s AMV (average margin of victory) was precisely 1.0.
Fritsch defeated, in order, Mikko Peltokangas (FIN), Serbian-via-Iran Ali Arslan (who also put forth an impressive performance en-route to bronze), Pavel Puklavec (CRO), and ’16 Olympic bronze Shmagi Bolkvadze (GEO). Though a U23 World silver back in 2017, the Hungarian has emerged as a major Senior player more so over the past two years. Hence, his first Euro title carries immediate significance, and that it was earned at home in Budapest adds a special touch.
“I think I would have been happy with any medal in the capital, depending on how I earned it,” Fritsch told the Hungarian Wrestling Federation last week. “Fortunately, I don’t have to think about this anymore. My mother and girlfriend said before the tournament that they felt like I was winning the European Championships. They saw that I was very okay in my head, that I was ready for the fight.”
Naturally, a European gold also suggests that Fritsch should be considered a strong medal candidate at the ’22 Worlds in Serbia. Thus far, the 28-year-old’s only World Championships appearance was this past October — and he was bounced early on by Peltokangas. Things are different now. While Fritsch insists that he would prefer to take it step-by-step, he also can’t help but feel what might be described as a “confident sense of urgency”. The second biggest event of the year on his calendar is in the books, giving him one final goal in ’22 to achieve.
“The World Cup is a different tournament, but of course I will do my best to give it my best shot there as well, “Fritsch said. “I haven’t won a medal yet, it would be another big milestone in my career if I could. I am very motivated and looking forward to starting the direct preparations in August.”
Russian Pro League
“There may be professional leagues and club competitions. There is a wide range of issues that are being worked out.” Those were the words of Russian Wrestling Federation president Mikhail Mamiashvili in March. At the time, Russia was still reeling from being de-facto excommunicated from participating in sanctioned international competition and searching for solutions. Wrestling is enormous in the Eastern European country, after all; and as the sport’s most successful program, they have desired figuring out numerous avenues in which to hold world-level meets.
What that will look like coming up is the advent of the Poddubny Wrestling League (named for legendary Soviet pro Ivan, just like the annual tournament), which will debut May 19-20 in Moscow. At press time, the only other nation besides Russia that will send competitors is, no surprise, Belarus (BLR is similarly blacklisted). The PWL will not feature team duals, nor will it offer individual match-ups, despite the popularity of both formats in RUS. Instead, each weight category will be bracketed in traditional tournament style with team points on the line, as well.
As per the Russian Wrestling Federation:
“The competition will be held in the format of a personal tournament in all weight categories with summing up the results of the team championship. Both the winners of each weight category and the top three teams (countries) according to the results of the overall standings will receive monetary rewards. There is a record prize fund that will attract the leaders of the wrestling world.
“Poddubny Wrestling League is a global project with the participation of the best athletes in the world. The maximum number of participants in each weight category is 16 athletes. The expected number of countries is more than 10.”
Thus far, there have not been any announcements pertaining to additional countries agreeing to send athletes for the PWL. Updates to this effect will be disseminated as they become available.
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