American Taylor beats Iran’s Yazdani for wrestling gold

Published August 6, 2021
Hassan Yazdanicharati of Iran in action against David Taylor of the United States. — Reuters
Hassan Yazdanicharati of Iran in action against David Taylor of the United States. — Reuters
DUKE Ragan (L) of the US and Russia’s Albert Batyrgaziev fight during their men’s featherweight boxing final at the Kokugikan Arena on Thursday.—AFP
DUKE Ragan (L) of the US and Russia’s Albert Batyrgaziev fight during their men’s featherweight boxing final at the Kokugikan Arena on Thursday.—AFP

CHIBA: David Taylor seized the most important moment of his wrestling life.

The American scored a double-leg takedown with 17 seconds remaining to beat Iran’s Hassan Yazdani 4-3 on Thursday night and claim the gold medal in the freestyle 86kg class.

“There was no way I wasn’t going to find a way,” he said. “It’s the gold medal, man. I was going to rip my arms off if I had to.”

Taylor expected a tough match from the man nicknamed ‘The Greatest’. Yazdani, the top seed, won the 74kg class at the 2016 Olympics.

“I like to win 10-0, but getting it done in the last seconds feels pretty good, too,” Taylor said.

The shocked Iranians in the stands were in tears while Yazdani was inconsolable as his coaches held him up and carried him back to the dressing room.

In the men’s freestyle bantamweight category, two-times world champion Zavur Uguev of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) beat India’s two-times Asian champion Ravi Kumar to win the gold.

Risako Kawai of Japan beat Belarusian Iryna Kurachkina 5-0 in the women’s freestyle lightweight final to win the gold medal — a day after her sister Yukako won the freestyle middleweight final.

They became the second pair of Japanese siblings to win gold medals in Tokyo after Uta Abe and her brother Hifumi in the judo.

BATYRGAZIEV, RAGAN MAKE HISTORY FOR PRO BOXERS

Albert Batyrgaziev became the first professional boxer to win an Olympic gold medal when the 23-year-old Russian conquered the featherweight division by beating Duke Ragan, a fellow pro.

And though Batyrgaziev knows he made history and both of these fighters greatly boosted their pro careers with Olympic success, he thinks the distinction between professional and Olympic boxing is weak and getting weaker.

“I think that being here for any athlete means that it’s a professional or a near-professional experience,” Batyrgaziev said through an interpreter. “A professional boxer is not only someone who does it full-time [for money]. It also means that here at these Games, any athlete can consider himself or herself a professional.”

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2021

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