2023 UWW Worlds Preview: 65k MFS, 67k GR, 57k WFS

Updated: August 31, 2023

Photos: Zain Retherford in men’s freestyle and Helen Maroulis, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist in women’s freestyle, each finished second in last year’s World Championships, while Alejandro Sancho returns for his second Worlds in Greco-Roman after also wrestling in the Tokyo Olympics. (Tony Rotundo and Justin Hoch photos)

The fourth of 10 installments to WIN Magazine’s preview of the 2023 UWW World Championships — held Sept. 16-24 in Belgrade, Serbia — features a pair of 2022 World silver medalists in Zain Retherford in men’s freestyle and Helen Maroulis (the 2016 Olympic champ) in women’s freestyle as well as a 2020 Olympian Alejandro Sancho in Greco-Roman wrestling.

WIN Magazine will also provide comprehensive coverage to this year’s World Championships in its next issue, which will be printed Sept. 28. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe.

Men’s Freestyle: 70k/154lbs — Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion WC / TMWC)

Competes Sept. 16-17

Age: 28 (born May 27, 1995); Hometown: Benton, Pa.

Beat Tyler Berger at Final X

International Experience: Fourth World Team; earned a silver medal in 2022; also competed in 2017 and 2019 (both at 65k); Overall Record: 5-3; also won a 2012 Cadet World championship.

Other: Retherford was a three-time NCAA champ and two-time Hodge Trophy winner from Penn State (2013-17).

Top International Competition: Japan’s Taishi Narikuni, who defeated Retherford in last year’s gold medal match, is not competing in this year’s Worlds at this non-Olympic weight. But Kyrgyzstan’s Ernazar Akmataliev, who won a silver in 2021 and bronze last year, does return. Meanwhile, a pair of younger wrestlers who finished 1-2 at last year’s U23 Worlds — gold medalist Giorgi Elbakidze of Georgia and runner-up Amirmohammad Yazdanicherati of Iran — are expected to do well in this year’s Seniors. The Iranian also claimed a silver medal in the 2021 Senior Worlds.

Greco-Roman: 67k/147 lbs — Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army WCAP)

Competes Sept. 23-24

Age: 29 (born March 18, 1994); Hometown: Miami, Fla.

Beat Robert Perez III at Final X

International Experience: This is his second Senior-level World Tournament after he split two matches in the 2022 Worlds. His overall record is 1-2, which includes an 0-1 performance in the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021 in Tokyo). He also competed in the 2014 Junior Worlds and 2017 U23 Worlds, but did not place.

Other: He started wrestling at age 15 and after wrestling for Miami South High School, he attended Northern Michigan as part of the Greco-Roman program.

Top International Competition: Serbia has two strong candidates at this weight class: Mate Nemes, who won a 2022 World championship after also representing his country at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021; and Sebastian Nad, who also won a World title last year at the non-Olympic weight of 63 kilos but has moved up to 67 kilos one year before the Paris Olympics. Meanwhile, Iran’s Mohammadreza Geraei, who won gold medals at 67 kilos in both the Worlds and Olympics in 2021, is also back after finishing second to Nemes in 2022.

57k/125.5 lbs — Helen Maroulis (Sunkist Kids WC)

Competes Sept. 19-20.

Age: 31 (born Sept. 19, 1991); Hometown: Rockville, Md.

Beat Xochiti Mota-Pettis in a special wrestle-off on Aug. 12 after Maroulis was forced to miss Final X because of an injury.

International Experience:  Maroulis has competed in nine World Championships and two Olympics; becoming the first American woman to earn an Olympic gold medal in 2016. She also has claimed three World championships (2015, 2017 and 2021) to go along with a World silver in 2012, World bronze in 2014, Olympic bronze medal at the 2020 Games (held in Tokyo in 2021), and a silver at last year’s Worlds. Her overall record is 35-9 (27-8 in the Worlds and 8-1 in the Olympics). Her other World tournaments came in 2011 (5th), 2013 (7th) and 2018 (21st).

Top International Competition: Maroulis has at least two other World champions to contend with at this weight: Japan’s Tsugumi Sakurai, who beat Maroulis 3-0 in last year’s gold-medal match after also claiming a World title at 55 kilos in 2021; and Moldova’s Anastasia Nichita who dropped down to this Olympic weight after winning gold at 59 kilos last fall.

The following is a schedule of WIN’s other daily World Championship previews (including pertinent information on the American who will wrestle at that weight class and style). Click on previous days to read those previews: