2021 Senior World Championships

65kg Worlds Preview - Is Yianni Ready To Win World Gold?

65kg Worlds Preview - Is Yianni Ready To Win World Gold?

An in-depth preview of 65kg at the 2021 Senior World Championships

Sep 23, 2021 by Jon Kozak
65kg Worlds Preview - Is Yianni Ready To Win World Gold?

Yianni Diakomihalis is Team USA’s world team rep at 65kg at the 2021 Senior World Championships. This 65kg World Championship preview will give an overview of Diakomihalis’ senior-level career and explore the careers of each of his potential competitors in Norway.

Yianni’s First Senior Worlds

Yianni Diakomihalis has been one of the USA’s best 65kg wrestlers since 2019 and, now at 22 years old, he will compete in his first senior worlds. Along with being a two-time Cadet World Champion, Yianni has won every senior-level international tournament he's competed in (5 tournaments since 2019). His career senior-level record is 45-10 and he is 20-2 against foreign competition. The only two foreign wrestlers who have a win over Yianni, Ismail Musuakev (HUN) and Vladimer Khinchegashvili, will not be in the 65kg bracket in Oslo.

On top of Yianni’s international success, all of this year’s 65kg Olympic medalists will not be participating in the world championships. This leaves the door wide open for Yianni to bring home a medal from Norway. If he were to medal, he'd be the first world/Olympic medalist for the United States at 65/66kg since Bill Zadick won gold in 2006. Diakomihalis is more than capable of ending this drought and defeating anyone in the bracket-he should be considered a strong contender for a medal and one of the main contenders for gold. 


Yianni Diakomihalis (USA)

  • 2015 and 2016 Cadet World Gold
  • 2019 Pan-Am Gold

Yianni's win over Ali Rahimzade at the 2019 Yasar Dogu

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Biggest Threats To Yianni

With the established veterans out at 65kg, two younger talents have emerged as the top contenders for world gold. Along with Yianni, Vazgen Tevanyan (ARM) and Zagir Shakhiev (RUS) are the most dangerous wrestlers in the 65kg field. Though Tevanyan did not medal at the Olympics, he has past wins over Olympic silver medalist Haji Aliyev (AZE) and 2019 world bronze medalist Ismail Musukaev (HUN).

Zagir Shakhiev is one of Russia’s best young talents and placed bronze at 2020 Russian Nationals and Silver at 2021 Russian Nationals. After Russian Nationals, he went on to win the 2021 European Championships in April. On top of those impressive performances, Shakhiev defeated two-time world bronze medalist (2016 & 2018) Akhmed Chakaev 10-3 to make the 2021 World Team. Take a look below at Shakhiev and Tevanyan’s accolades and video of some of their best wins:


Vazgen Tevanyan (ARM)

  • 2020 World Cup Gold
  • 2018 Junior World Gold

Tevanyan’s win over Haji Aliyev from the 2021 European Olympic Games Qualifier

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Zagir Shakhiev (RUS)

  • 2021 European Gold
  • 2021 Russian Nationals Silver
  • 2020 Russian Nationals Bronze
  • 2016 Cadet World Gold

Shakhiev’s win the finals of 2021 Euros

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Shakhiev’s win over Junior World Gold Kurban Shiraev from 2021 Russian Nationals

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The Best Of The Rest

The field at 65kg has a number of top wrestlers who could medal in Norway. Cuba’s Alejandro Valdes (if he attends worlds) is the most experienced of any in the bracket. Valdes is a two-time world bronze medalist (2017 and 2018) and has past wins over other potential contenders Niurgin Skriabin (BLR) and Amir Yazdani (IRI). After Valdes, Tulga Tumur-Ochir (MGL) has competed at the last two world championships and this year’s Olympics at 65kg. Though Tumur-Ochir has not placed, he took 5th at 2019 worlds and has past wins over Niurgin Skriabin (BLR) and Vasyl Shuptar (UKR).

Ali Rahimzade (AZE) and Amir Yazdani (IRI) are among the younger competitors in the 65kg field but are both dangerous on their best days. Rahimzade took bronze at the 2021 European championships and prior to that won the 2021 Outstanding Ukrainian with a win over Olympian Ernazar Akmataliev. (KGZ) in the finals. Yazdani actually qualified 65kg for the Olympics for Iran at the Asian Qualifier by defeating Haji Ali (BRN) by tech fall. Yazdani did not, however, wrestle at the Olympics after he lost to fellow countryman Morteza Giasi in an Olympic trials wrestle-off. Take a look below at some of the best contenders at 65kg, their accolades, videos of their best matches.


Alejandro Valdes (CUB)

  • 2017, 2018 World Bronze 
  • 2010, 2013, 2014, 2019 Pan-Am Gold
  • 2016 Pan-Am Silver
  • 2018 Pan-Am Bronze

Valdes’ win over Haji Aliyev at the 2018 World Championships



Ali Rahimzade (AZE)

  • 2021 Euro Bronze 
  • 2020 Euro Bronze
  • 2018 U23 World Silver 

Rahimade’s Win over Vladimer Khinchegashvili from 2020 Euros

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Amir Yazdani (IRI)

  • 2015 Cadet World Silver

Amir Yazdani’s win over Haji Ali at the 2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier

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Tulga Tumur-Ochir (MGL)

  • 2019 World 5th

Tumur-Ochir’s win over Niurgin Skriabin from 2019 Worlds

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Prediction

Depending on the random draw of the 65kg bracket at worlds, the finals and medal matches could work out in a number of ways. That, along with the top wrestlers being mostly unproven, makes predicting the outcome of this bracket especially challenging. With that in mind, Zagir Shakhiev is my pick to win gold at 65kg. Shakhiev has shown vast improvement over the last year and is the most complete wrestler in the field. Shakhiev might be the only wrestler in the field who might be better in scramble positions than Yianni Diakomihalis. That, of course will be proven in Norway, but until then, Zagir Shakhiev is my pick for gold. 

Gold - Zagir Shakhiev
Silver - Vazgen Tevanyan
Bronze - Yianni Diakomihalis
Bronze - Ali Rahimzade


Check out our World Championship Rankings at 65kg here to view the top 10 wrestlers who will be competing at worlds ranked according to recent results and head-to-head matches.