Armenian wrestling is probably the most popular and successful type of sport of the country. In the last two decades, Armenian champions have been highly praised and successful during regional, world and Olympic championships.
The history of Armenian wrestling dates back to the early ages when Armenians were taking part in the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece. And it’s not surprising that a wide range of sports are popular in Armenia.
Nevertheless, Armenian champions are especially successful in wrestling. Furthermore, it is quite obvious that the Armenian wrestling school is one of the bests in the world as it provides excellent wrestling champions for Armenia.
So, if you want to learn more about the most successful Olympic sport in Armenia and about some famous Armenian wrestling champions, just stay keep scrolling down.
The Development of Armenian Wrestling
Wrestling is a traditional type of sport in Armenia that is always in the center of attention. In fact, Armenian wrestling is quite successful and respected sport that has its roots in the Armenian Highlands since the antique times.
According to the records, King Tiridates the Great won the Ancient Olympic Games in 281AD and became an Olympic wrestler. Not to mention that during the Soviet period Armenian wrestling reached to its peak. Since that it became one of the most practiced and popular sports in Armenian.
Moreover, numerous wrestling champions of Soviet era were Armenians and Armenian Greco-Roman champions had played an important role in Soviet wrestling. Armenian wrestler Sargis Vardanyan along with other notable ones, such as Suren Nalbandyan, Norayr Musheghian, Levon Julfalakyan, Artem Teryanand, Mnatsakan Iskandaryan were among the most prominent wrestling champions in Soviet period.
For over two decades Armenian athletes and wrestlers have been rather skillful and successful at international wrestling competitions. The majority of them have become Olympic, European and World champions in such styles of wrestling as Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
Even nowadays most of international and Olympic medals come from Armenian wrestling. To illustrate, let’s note that about half of the Armenian Olympic medalists are wrestlers.
Important to know
Armenians have their own version of wrestling, known as Kokh that dates back to the Early Middle Ages. By the way, it is regarded as one of the oldest forms of wrestling. Two most popular variants of this national Armenian wrestling are Shirak Kokh and Lori Kokh.
Although nowadays Kokh is practiced mainly in rural areas, approximately 700 children practice Kokh in Armenia. The fight between the two opponents usually lasts up to 10 minutes.
Also, there are some nice traditions connected with Kokh, like performing folk dances before the fight and the musical accompaniment of Armenian folk songs during the whole game.
Top 5 Armenian Wrestling Champions
Armenian Wrestling Champion #1: Artur Aleksanyan
Armenian Greco-Roman wrestler, Artur Aleksanyan is probably the most famous athlete in Armenia. He became an Olympic champion in Rio 2016 Olympic games, in the 98kg category.
Among his other important awards from numerous championships are World Championship and European Championship. To put it straight, Mr. Aleksanyan has all the possible wrestling championship medal under his belt.
Artur Aleksanyan is one of the tallest champions in Armenia and is justly considered as one of the most handsome and attractive sportsmen of the country.
This all-time-favorite wrestler has been nicknamed “Polar Bear” or “White Bear”. The reason is, of course his extraordinary power and good looks. His very white skin, blonde hair, sky-blue eyes and gigantic body reminds of a polar bear.
It’s not surprising that he became a prominent wrestler as there are few factors that fostered it.
- First and foremost, he is from Gyumri. This city is considered to be the cradle of talented wrestling champions
- Secondly, he grew up in a family of sportsmen and is quite hardworking and dedicated to his trainings
- Thirdly, his personal coach is his father Gevorg Aleksanyan, who is an honored coach of RA in Greco-Roman style of wrestling.
By the way, there is an Armenian wrestling school in Gyumri named in honor of Artur Aleksanyan.
Armenian Wrestling Champion #2: Mihran Harutyunyan
Our next prominent Armenian wrestler is Mihran Harutyunyan who is competing in Greco-Roman style. The “Black Lion” of Armenian sport is a silver medalist of 2015 Baku European Games and became Russian national champion in 2012.
But probably his most scandalous medal was the one from the Rio Olympics in 2016. The final battle he lost to Davor Štefanek and became the runner up silver medalist. Many people noted that he was deprived from the Gold Medal because of inequity and injustice of the referee.
However, his life slogan is the famous ”Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) that fully describes the lifestyle and ambitions of this prominent Armenian wrestler. After coming back from Rio and seeing the warmth and glory that was waiting for him in homeland, he announced that is going to stay and prove that he’ll make it.
Armenian Wrestling Champion #3: David Safaryan
Armenian Freestyle wrestler, David Safaryan is a World and European Champion. Born in Russia, he began wrestling since his early childhood on the initiative of his father, who had the title of Master of Sports in wrestling.
After winning several awards in junior category, David’s first success at the senior international level was the bronze medal at the 2012 European Wrestling Championships. In 2013, he repeated his success and won a gold medal at the same championship.
By the way, he is the first Armenian wrestler who became a European Champion in freestyle in nine years. Later that year he won the gold medal during the World Wrestling Championships in 2013, in Budapest.
It’s also noteworthy that David Safaryan was named the Armenian Athlete of the Year in 2013 for his great achievements in wrestling that year.
Armenian Wrestling Champion #4: Ara Abrahamian
Armenian-Swedish wrestler in Greco-Roman style, Ara Abrahamian has lots of medals at his disposal. He won two World Championships and a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Ara Abrahamian won the bronze medal during the 2008 Summer Olympics. However, he rejected it because of a controversial and disputable ruling in the semifinal. During the medal ceremony, he protested by taking off the medal and walking away.
For this reason, he was disqualified by the International Olympic Committee for disturbing the ceremony. Furthermore, he was banned from participating in the Olympic Games for the rest of his life. This event had a huge impact on his further career. He criticized the corrupt judges as he was very devastated and announced that he will retire from the sport.
Despite all this controversy and scandals, Armenians can never forget his input and role in Armenian world of wrestling. That’s why Ara Abrahamian owns the right to be listed in the top 5 Armenian wrestling champions.
Armenian Wrestling Champion #5: Arsen Julfalakyan
Another much beloved and famous Armenian wrestler is Arsen Julfalakyan in the Greco-Roman classification. Among his numerous medals are European and World Championship, Olympic Championship (three-time) and an Olympic silver medal.
Born in the ‘capital’ of wrestling champions, Arsen Julfalakyan’s father is the renowned World, European and Olympic Champion and the wrestling coach, Levon Julfalakyan.
Following his prominent father’s footsteps, Arsen started wrestling at the age of 11. By the way, Russian famous wrestler Roman Vlasov once noted that Arsen Julfalakyan is his true idol and that he admires his style. Moreover, in 2012 he was named the Armenian athlete of the year.
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