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Monday Roundup: World Cup Notes; Knystautas Speaks

mantas knystautas, world cup
Mantas Knystautas -- Photo: Kadir Caliskan

United World Wrestling implemented a unique wrinkle into this year’s Greco-Roman World Cup by bucking convention and pivoting towards a new model that should become the standard going forward.

Traditionally, World Cups are comprised of the top-eight nations according to the team standings at the previous World Championships or Olympic Games. For 2022, those teams were, in order, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Hungary, and Uzbekistan. But the upcoming World Cup — scheduled for November 5-6 in Baku, AZE — will bypass the usual eight-team bracket and instead include only six; in other words, the three countries that finished 6th, 7th, and 8th (GEO, HUN, and UZB) will not be represented. In their place, an “All-World” squad has been formed, featuring nine recent World medalists.

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UWW (via Eric Olanowski) stated that the “All-World” team consists of the “the highest-placing athletes from Belgrade whose teams finished outside of the top five in the team standings”, which is true. And what this does is streamline the event in terms of round-by-round competition, which could make it more palatable for casuals who decide to watch and follow along. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to highlight a sect of individual athletes and further breed the sort of camaraderie for which this sport is so often recognized. Athletes from different nations coming together and competing against current powerhouse programs might deliver a touch of drama, especially if the All-World collective were to actually contend for the event title.

The World Cup, while undoubtedly important to Greco-Roman, struggles to resonate with audiences outside of Europe and, to a lesser extent, the Middle East. It has also been five years since the last event, which was held in Abadan City, Iran (and came and went with little fanfare). An updated format — that is punctuated by the inclusion of an “all-star” team featuring terrific, established international competitors — might just be exactly what the World Cup needs to effectively reach a new generation of fans and viewers.

2022 Greco-Roman World Cup Rosters


55 kg: Nugzari Tsurtsumia (GEO)
60 kg: Aidos Sultangali (KAZ)
63 kg: Leri Abuladze (GEO)
67 kg :Joni Khetsuriani (GEO)
72 kg: Andrii Kulyk (UKR)
77 kg: Zoltan Levai (HUN)
82 kg: Jalgasbay Berdimuratov (UZB)
87 kg: Turpal Bisultanov (DEN)
97 kg: Kiril Milov (BUL)
130 kg: Mantas Knystautas (LTU)

Turkey (TUR)

55 kg: Ekrem Ozturk
55 kg: Muhammet Cakir
60 kg: Kerem Kamal
60 kg: Mukremin Aktas
63 kg: Ahmet Uyar
67 kg: Murat Firat
72 kg: Selcuk Can
77 kg: Yunus Emre Basar
77 kg: Yuksel Saricicek
82 kg: Burhan Akbudak
87 kg: Ali Cengiz
97 kg: Metehan Basar
97 kg: Mustafa Olgun
130 kg: Osman Yilidirm

Azerbaijan (AZE)

55 kg: Eldaniz Azizli
55 kg: Ibrahim Nurullayev
60 kg: Murad Mammdov
60 kg: Nihat Mammadli
63 kg: Taleh Mammadov
63 kg: Ziya Babashov
67 kg: Hasrat Jafarov
67 kg: Namaz Rustamov
72 kg: Ulvu Ganizade
72 kg: Gurban Gurbanov
77 kg: Sanan Suleymaov
77 kg: Eljan Mammadov
82 kg: Rafig Huseynov
82 kg: Nasir Hasanov
87 kg: Lachin Valieyev
87 kg: Murad Ahmadiyev
97 kg: Arif Niftullayev
97 kg: Zamir Magomedov
130 kg: Sabah Shariati
130 kg: Beka Kandelaki

Serbia (SRB)

55 kg: Sabolc Losonc
60 kg: Aleksandar Berarov
60 kg: Sebastian Kolompar
63 kg: Stefan Liscevic
63 kg: Perica Dimitrijevic
67 kg: Sebastian Nad
72 kg: Aleksa Erski
72 kg: Mate Nemes
77 kg: Aleksa Ilic
82 kg: Milos Perovic
82 kg: Viktor Nemes
87 kg: Zarko Dickov
97 kg: Mihail Kajaia
130 kg: Sabolc Horvat

Iran (IRI)

55 kg: Mohammad Javaheri Farid
55 kg: Poya Dad Marz
60 kg: Pouya Naserpour
60 kg: Mehdi Mohesen Nejad
63 kg: Saeid Esmaeili Leivesi
63 kg: Iman Mohammadi
67 kg: Hojat Rezaei
67 kg: Seyed Sohrabi
72 kg: Mohammadreza Rostami
72 kg: Amir Abdi
77 kg: Aref Habibollahi
77 kg: Mohammad Mokhtari
82 kg: Mohammadhossein Mahmoodi
82 kg: Alireza Mohmadipiani
87 kg: Hamidreza Badkan
87 kg: Abolfazl Choubani
97 kg: Ali Abedidarzi
97 kg: Mehdi Balihamzehdeh
130 kg: Fardin Hedayati
130 kg: Aliakbar Yousofiahmadchali

Kyrgyzstan (KGZ)

55 kg: Ulan Muratbek Uulu
60 kg: Nurmukhammet Abdullaev
63 kg: Kaly Sulaimanov
67 kg: Khalmurat Ibragimov
72 kg: Adilkhan Nurlanbekov
77 kg: Akylbek Talantbekov
82 kg: Kalidin Asykeev
87 kg: Azat Saldinov
97 kg: Uzur Dzhuzupbekov
130 kg: Erlan Manatbekov

Knystautas On World Cup

Freshly-minted World bronze Mantas Knystautas (130 kg, LTU) is on the ’22 All-World roster for the aforementioned Cup, and he has some (concise) thoughts on the subject.

Speaking to the Lithuanian federation’s official outlet, Knystautas shared that he is indeed looking forward to competing in Baku and that he had in past years paid attention to the event. He also intimates his opinion of the field in general, as well as his wish to have a certain LTU teammate involved.

Knystautas on competing at the World Cup

“After the World Championships, I was 90 percent sure that I would participate. It was not unexpected. Of course, I’m happy. I think a fun event awaits.”

On which team he thinks is the favorite

I don’t even know. I think the four teams are equal. I think that the Kyrgyz and the Serbs are behind.”

On the prize money offered

The prize fund is 100,000 Swiss francs ($100,367 USD). The most capable team will receive 70%, the second team 20%, and the third receives 10% of the amount. There are ten wrestlers on each team. It’s easy to count.”

On the talent of the All-World Team

“Yes, seriously, but it’s a pity. Kristupas Sleivas is not there. There is a Ukrainian (Andrii Kulyk) instead. It would be more fun for two of us to fly to Baku.”

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