On August 13, the Norwegian federation hosted “Oslo Fight Night”, an event essentially designed to provide their athletes with one last competition prior to Belgrade 2022. The format was concise: only four weight categories were contested (67, 77, 82, and 87 kilograms); each weight division only carried three wrestlers; and the usual round-robin system was employed. 130 kilograms was originally on the docket, as well, but with Norwegian heavy hitter Oskar Marvik currently nursing an injury, the weight class was not included.
As for the names of those who prevailed, Norway had three champs with ’20 European Championships titlist Morten Thoresen (67 kg), Per Anders Kure (77 kg), and Martin Ljosok (82 kg). Reigning Euro gold Turpal Bisultanov (DEN) took the top spot at 87 with a pair of VSU’s over Norwegians Ruben Been and ’21 Junior World silver Exauce Mukubu, respectively.
Bisultanov, who is still just 20 years of age, will be entering the ’22 Worlds as an exceedingly strong medal contender after coming in 5th last year. He has been especially effective this season. In addition to his continental title from March, Bisultanov also placed second at the U23 version of the Euros (to Istvan Takacs of HUN, no less), was runner-up to another potential World rep for Hungary in David Losonczi at Pytlasinski in July, and earlier this month triumphed at the Grand Prix of Germany. Supplemental to the above performances for the young Danish star throughout this calendar year are a Herman Kare gold and Zagreb GP silver.
Thoresen and Bisultanov held the banner for “Oslo Fight Night” as perhaps the event’s highest-profile Seniors. But that distinction was also shared by Mukubu, whose own season thus far has been quite impressive. This summer alone, Mukubu has won both the Grand Prix of Spain and Pytlasinski. Not only that, along the way he earned victories over two top-quality athletes — ’18 U23 World champ Gela Bolkvadze (GEO, at GP of Spain) and ’20 Olympian Karapet Chalyan (ARM, Pytlasinski final). However hot Bisultanov appears with less than a month to go until Belgrade, Mukubu is burning at a similar temperature. Except, Mukubu might not himself wind up in Belgrade.
As per a statement from the Norwegian Wrestling Federation late last week, Mukubu has been released from the roster (see below):
“The Norwegian Wrestling Association would like to inform you that the national team contract with Exauce Mukubu has been terminated with immediate effect from 17 August 2022 (out of the current season). This is due to a breach of contract terms. NBF will, regardless of this, still consider him a current candidate for future international competitions. NBF thanks you for your cooperation, and wishes Exauce Mukubu all the best in the future.”
There are no reports or relevant details available regarding what might have transpired between “Oslo Fight Night” on August 13 and August 17, when Norway’s decision was announced. Without Mukubu, that leaves NOR with potentially only four athletes for Belgrade: Thoresen, Kure, Felix Baldauf (97 kg), and Marvik.
Update: Mukubu is training this week in Lithuania with NOR and is expected to compete at the U23 Worlds in October.
Tournament in Israel
This week’s Slavin, Halfen, Weinberg & Gottfreund Memorial in Be’er Sheva, Israel signals the end of the summer’s blitz of pre-World Championships Senior tournaments. This past weekend saw the Druskininkai Cup in Lithuania, which saw 77 total competitors. At press time, it is not known how many entrants will be in the running at the Slavin, Halfen, Weinberg & Gottfreund Memorial, though Germany is sending three of their better upstarts to Israel. Greece is also bringing wrestlers. In bigger news, so are Morocco and Tajikistan.
Unlike the slate of other tournaments over the past two months, the objective of the Slavin, Halfen, Weinberg & Gottfreund Memorial is much larger in scope than availing a final tune-up for athletes before Belgrade. It is rather an opportunity for reflection. This summer marks 50 years since the Munich Olympic Games, during which terrorists aligned with a Palestinian cause known as “Black September” and murdered 12 Israeli athletes. Two of the victims from the Munich massacre were on the ’72 ISR Olympic wrestling Team, Mark Slavin and Eliezer Halfen. Coach Moshe Weinberg and referee Yossef Gutfreund were likewise gunned down by the terrorists.
Two legendary American Olympic wrestlers who medaled in ’72, Ben and John Peterson, will be on hand to provide training at the event. Ben Peterson earned gold in Munich while John finished with silver before eventually winning it all in ’76.
Greco in Be’er Sheva takes place on Thursday (August 25) and will observe a one-day format with action beginning at 10:00am local time (3:00am ET). Streaming information is not yet available; when it is, details will be updated on this page.
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