2023 UWW Worlds Preview: 97k MFS, 97k GR, 72k WFS

Updated: September 8, 2023

Photo: Kyle Snyder has won three men’s freestyle World titles, including in 2017 against Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev, who will compete independently at 97k at the 2023 UWW World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, where Amit Elor will also defend her 72k title in women’s freestyle and Joe Rau will compete in his third Worlds at 97k in Greco-Roman. (Photos by Tony Rotundo and Justin Hoch)

Kyle Snyder and Amit Elor have something in common as each set an American record as the youngest USA wrestlers to claim World titles in men’s and women’s freestyle, respectively; Snyder in 2015 at age 20 and Elor in 2022 at age 18. And the pair will be back for more honors — Snyder at 97 kilos and Elor at 72 kilos — at the 2023 UWW World Championships, Sept. 16-24, in Belgrade, Serbia, where another American — Joe Rau — will compete in his third World tournament in Greco-Roman wrestling at 97 kilos.

These three are among 30 Americans who will compete later this month in the three styles and WIN magazine has been providing almost daily in-depth previews; three weights per installment through Sept. 11. WIN Magazine will also provide comprehensive coverage in its next issue, printed Sept. 28. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe.

Men’s Freestyle: 97k/213lbs — Kyle Snyder (Nittany Lion WC / TMWC)

Competes Sept. 18-19

Age: 27 (born March 3, 1995); Hometown: Woodbine, Md.

Won by injury forfeit over J’den Cox, the 2022 92k World silver medalist, at Final X

International Experience: Holds distinction as USA’s youngest World (2015) and Olympic (2016) champion. Three-time World champ (2015, 2017, 2022); Two-time World silver medalist (2018 and 2021) and 2019 World bronze medalist; 2016 Olympic gold medalist; 2020 Olympic silver medalist; Overall record: 30-4 (23-3 in six World Championships and 7-1 in two Olympics); also won Junior World championship in 2013.

Other: Snyder was a three-time NCAA champ and four-time NCAA finalist from Ohio State (2014-18).

Top International Competition: Snyder, ranked No. 1 in the pre-tourney seedings, should once again be the favorite to repeat in 2023, but could face competition from the likes of 2022 World bronze medalists: Magomedkhan Magomedov of Azerbaijan and Georgia’s Givi Matcharashvili. But the biggest road to Snyder claiming a fourth could come from Abdulrashid Sadulaev, the Russian who will compete among the “Independent Neutral Athletes” after not competing last year when Russia was suspended from World and Olympic competition after the country invaded Ukraine. Sadulaev, nicknamed the “Russian Tank,” has beaten the American in the last three World/Olympic meetings (between 2019 and 2021) after Snyder won in 2017. Meanwhile, another American Ben Honis, the 2019 NCAA All-American from Cornell, will represent Italy at this weight.

Greco-Roman: 97k/213 lbs — Joe Rau (Wildcat WC / Titan Mercury WC)

Competes Sept. 22-23

Age: 32 (born March 17, 1991); Hometown: Chicago, Ill.

Beat Christian DuLaney at Final X

International Experience: This marks the third time that Rau earned a spot on the World Team. He also competed in 2014 (going 0-1 at 80k) and 2019 (1-1 at 87k). He also won the 2016 Olympic Trials at 98k but was unable to qualify the weight for the United States that summer in Rio. Oddly, he did qualify the 87k weight class for Team USA in 2020 but lost in the Trials (held in 2021) to John Stefanowicz.

Other: Rau was a three-time NCAA Division III All-American for Elmhurst College (now Elmhurst University) in Illinois and won the 184-pound championship in 2013.

Top International Competition: No man has been more dominant at this weight than Armenia’s Artur Aleksanyan, who since 2012 has won four World championships (including last year) and three Olympic medals (including gold in 2016). His biggest challenge should come from Bulgaria’s Kiril Milov, who earned silver in the 2022 Worlds, and 2022 World bronze medalists Arif Niftullayev of Azerbaijan and Iran’s Mohammadhadi Saravi.

Women’s Freestyle: 72k/158.5 lbs — Amit Elor (New York City RTC / Titan Mercury WC)

Competes Sept. 20-21

Age: 19 (born Jan. 1, 2004); Hometown: Walnut Creek, Calif.

Beat Joye Levendusky at Final X

International Experience: Last year historic for Elor, who won a gold medal at the Senior Worlds, while also winning championships in the U23 and Junior World Championships; something she repeated at the 2023 Junior Worlds (and will also be on the U23 World Team in October).  She also won Junior World titles in 2021 and 2022 and a Cadet World championship in 2021.

Other: Before taking up wrestling at age 10, she had already competed in jiu-jitsu events.

Top International Competition: While Kazakhstan’s Zhamila Bakbergenova returns after losing to Elor in last year’s finals, the American’s biggest challenge should be Japan’s Miwa Morikawa, who won a 2022 World champions at 65 kilos.

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: