Russia’s wrestlers will be missed by many at 2022 Worlds

Updated: July 6, 2022

Photo: Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev (left) and USA’s Kyle Snyder have met on the mat the past four years and have developed a strong friendship. This led to the Russian and some officials giving Snyder property in his home republic of Dagestan. (Justin Hoch photo)

By Mike Finn

Kyle Snyder got a chance to travel the world this past year, especially when he spent a week in the Russian Republic of Dagestan … the home of his wrestling rival Abdulrashid Sadulaev.

The 26-year-old World and Olympic champion from Maryland left that country with more than a few memories.

This story appeared in the recent issue of WIN Magazine that was printed on June 16. Click on the cover or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe to WIN.

“They were the best hosts and treated us like family,” recalled Snyder about his visit to Sadulaev’s village of Tsurib. “I’d like to go over there more and more and bring my wife (Maddie). They gave me some land, so maybe I’ll build a house in Russia.”

It didn’t matter that Sadulaev has won the last three meetings against the young American star, including twice last year at the Tokyo Olympics in August and the World Championships in Oslo, Norway, in October.

Snyder, the 2016 Olympic champion who did beat “the Russian Tank” for his second World title in 2017, discovered there was more to his 97-kilogram foe than what they fought for on the wrestling mat.

“They liked me and think I’m a good athlete,” Snyder said. “That was a cool thing, but they did cooler things than that. A couple weeks ago, I got a call from Sadulaev and the governor of Dagestan and they were drinking tea and we started talking.”

Andy Hrovat (right), who represented the U.S. in the 2008 Olympics, spent nearly a year living and training in the Ossetia Republic of Russia. (WIN file photo)

Andy Hrovat, the 2008 U.S. Olympian and Michigan All-American, spent over a year between 2010 and 2011 living and training with the Spartak Club in another Russia Republic of Ossetia, located 250 miles west of Dagestan, on the southwestern edge of Russia and near the border of the country of Georgia.

He was not surprised when he heard that Sadulaev’s home country gave real estate to Snyder.

 “One Russian coach told me wrestling is at its best when Russia and the United States are both good,” said Hrovat, who currently lives in Dallas, Texas.

“I could understand why they honored Kyle with a piece of property because Sadulaev is not Sadulaev without a rivalry with Kyle Snyder. They appreciate that and they understand in order for a Dagestani wrestler to raise to world heights and world fame, there has to be a true adversary for him to fight … and that’s Kyle.”

No country has collected more World/Olympic medals (690) than Russia (formerly the Soviet Union), which also has earned 464 individual championships since the country first entered the World Championships in 1951. The United States, which has produced 271 all-time wrestling medals, has continued to challenge its Russian opponents. In the 2021 Worlds, each country earned three of the 10 individual gold medals in men’s freestyle.

But Snyder, nor the rest of the world, will see Russia compete this September in Belgrade, Serbia; the site of the 2022 UWW World Championships.

That’s because United World Wrestling, among many international sports federations following the lead of the International Olympic Committee, announced in March that Russian wrestlers would be barred from competing in this year’s World tournament, held Sept. 10-18.

To read the rest of this story, which appeared in the June issue of WIN Magazine, call 888-305-0606 or click here to subscribe.