8th – British freestyle wrestler and judo expert Leslie Herbert Arthur Jeffers was born today in 1910 in Plaistow and died in May 2000 aged 90. At the 1936 Olympics he took part in the middleweight tournament, there was some mix-up which resulted it being broadcast that he had won the middleweight catch as catch can event. The drama of his supposed victory soon turned into something of a farce, when it was later announced that as a matter of face, he had been eliminated in the fourth round. Newspaper reports at the time confused his win in an early round against Terry Evans from Canada, with the final result. A telegram from home congratulating him on his victory, and gold medal, must have come as something of a surprise not only to the athlete but to the whole of the British Camp in the Olympic village – knowing the true result as they did. When reflecting on theb1936 Olympics and Hitler’s walking inspection of the athletes, Jeffers is reputed to have said; “If I’d just jumped forward and clobbered him then and there…what an incredible amount of life and trouble I would have saved the world”. Two years later at the 1938 Empire Games won bronze at the same event. He was also coach to the British Wrestling team at the 1948 Commonwealth Games. Leslie (known as Jeff to his friends) served in the Metropolitan Police and was based in many stations around London. It was said that at one time he unknowingly captured a serial killer – one night he arrested a man and prepared to bring him in for questioning. The man started crying and asked to reach into his pocket for a handkerchief. Jeffers told the man to wait until they returned to the station, on being searched, it was found that the pocket did not contain a handkerchief but a straight-edged razor that the man intended to use on Jeffers to get away. Jeffers was part of the police wrestling team and was a physical training instructor with the Met, in 1949 he came to more fame when he foiled a smash and grab raid on a Jewellers in Camden High Street. Jeffers was off-duty and riding his motor cycle when he saw one of two men throwing a fire extinguisher through the shop window, he swerved his bike towards the shop and blocked the would-be raider’s car, a fight with the two men the ensued, resulting in Jeffers detaining one while the other escaped. The man captured was found to be armed. During WW2, he was a flight navigator in a Wellington Bomber carrying out coastal patrols around the Mediterranean/North Africa. After retiring from the Met, he became secretary of the Hendon Golf Club in North London.
Norwegian Lars Bilet, born on this day in 1927, represented his country at the 1952 Olympics, where he was eliminated in the second
Born today in 1933 in Oulu, Finland, Leo Honkala, who, as a 19-year-old, surprised everyone by winning a bronze medal in Greco-Roman flyweight wrestling at the 1952 Olympics. Those Olympics were also his only major international tournament appearance, as the rest of his career was hampered by injuries. In 1953 Honkala injured his shoulder for the first time and, after injuring it twice more, was forced to retire from wrestling in 1956, after winning his only Finnish title in Greco-Roman flyweight that year. Following his retirement, Honkala worked as a policeman but, at the end of the 1960s, moved to Sweden. In 1974 he started work as a coach with the Swedish national wrestling team and, from 1980-85, was head coach of the Swedish national team. In Sweden Honkala also took up powerlifting and competed successfully in various master tournaments in that event but, at the 2006 European Masters Championships, while competing in M73 class, Honkala failed a drug test and was banned from that sport.
José Betancourt, born in 1963 in Humacao, Puerto Rico, competed in the 1984, 1992 and 1996 Olympics, but failed to reach the final stages. He won bronze at the 1987 Pan-American Games in the 74kg Greco-Roman category and finished just outside the medals in fourth in the 74kg freestyle category. At the 1991 Pan-American Games he was placed fifth in the 82kg Greco-Roman competition.
Tunisian freestyle wrestler Marwa Amri was born in 1989. She competed at three Olympic Games – losing in the first round of the 55kg category in 2008, eliminated in the semi-finals of the same event at London 2012. She improved yet again at the 2016 Olympics, this time in the 58kg category. Although she lost to Kaori Icho in the first round, she was entered into the repechage because Icho reached the final. In the repechage she beat Elif Jale Yeşilırmak, and then Yuliya Ratkevich in her bronze medal match – making her the first women from Africa to win an Olympic wrestling medal. Other notable results include silvers in the 2009 and 2013 Mediterranean Games and the 2017 World Championships and a bronze at the 2015 African Games, held in Brazzaville.
9th-Hungarian András Szoszky was born in Békéscsaba in 1889. He competed in the featherweight event at the 1912 Olympics. The format of the event was a double-elimination tournament – when three or fewer wrestlers remained, they advanced to a final-round tournament. Szoszky was eliminated in the second round.
Frantisek Janda, born on this day in 1910 in Czechoslovakia, competed at the 1936 Games. The wrestling took place at Germany Hall, Berlin between 6th and 9th August. Elimination in the event was by “bad points”. Point were awarded thus – Win by fall = 0 points; win by decision = 1 point; loss by 2-1 decision = 2 points; loss by 3-0 decision = 3 points; loss by fall = 3 points. Three judges awarded the points; thus all decisions were either 2-1 or 3-0. Five bad points eliminated a wrestler. Janda failed to progress past the 3rd round. He died on October 1986.
Reinhold “Otto” Steingräber, German wrestler was born on this day in 1957 in Rostock. As a youth he was very successful, holding many national titles at junior level before becoming national German champion in 1976 and 1978. He competed at the 1980 Moscow Games but unfortunately had to retire due to injury. From 1981 to 2004 he was coach for the police sports club Rostock and he was also coach of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (a country in the northeast of Germany). Steingräber coached various wrestlers to German Championships in the individual weight classes and five German team championships in the youth field. Additionally, he was the founder of the “International Baltic Sea Cup”, launched in the early 1990s. He died in February 2006.
Park Myung-Suk, also known as Park Myeong-Seok was born in 1970 is a South Korean Olympic wrestler, who represented the Ma San City Hall sports club. He won gold at the 1989 Asian Wrestling Championships, 74.0kg, the 1992 and 1993 Asian Championships, 82.0kg and the 1997 and 1998 Asian Championships: 85.0kg. He competed for South Korea at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, at the age of 22, in Middleweight division where he lost to Thomas Zander of Germany in the first round, beat Jean-Pierre Wafflard of Belgium in the second round, and was defeated by Magnus Fredriksson of Sweden in the third round. Park also competed in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, finishing 14th.
Slovak wrestler Radion Kertanti was born today in 1971. A two-time Olympian, he took fifteenth place in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, in the 74-76kg category. He participated in the Wrestling World Cup three times, he best finish here being fourth in 2001 and was European silver medallist in 1996.
Bazar Bazarguruev, freestyle wrestler of Buryat descent from Kyrgyzstan, was born in 1985. At the 2007 FILA Wrestling World Championships in Baku he was bronze medallist in the 60kg division. A year later in the 2008 Olympics he lost the bronze medal match to Kenichi Yumoto from Japan.
10th-Voldemar Väli, Estonian two time Olympic medallist was born on this day in 1903. A crane operator from the port of Tallinn, he took up wrestling in 1920 and soon rose to be one of the best featherweight and lightweight wrestlers in Estonia. Väli competed at the 1924 Olympics, but lost in the early rounds. He won his first international honours at the 1926 European Championships, where he won gold in Greco-Roman featherweight, a victory he repeated at the 1927 European Championships, thus becoming the favourite for the 1928 Olympic Greco-Roman featherweight gold. At the Olympics he did not disappoint, defeating all but one of his opponents by a fall to become the second Estonian Olympic wrestling champion after Eduard Patsep. After the 1928 Olympics Väli switched to lightweight and won silver at the 1930 and 1931 European Championships, but missed a possible Olympic medal at the 1932 Olympics because Estonia did not send a team to Los Angeles due to the Great Depression. Väli won his second Olympic medal, however, a bronze, in 1936 and also participated at the 1933, 1934, 1937 and 1938 European Championships, where he was fourth, fifth, fourth and fourth in Greco-Roman lightweight, respectively. Domestically he won 19 Estonian titles: in 1922, 1924 and 1926 in Greco-Roman featherweight, from 1928-40 and 1942 in Greco-Roman lightweight and in 1928-29 in freestyle lightweight. Väli retired from sports after the start of World War II and moved to Sweden during the conflict. In Sweden he first worked as a metal worker, but later established a dolls workshop with his wife. He died on 13th April 1997 aged 94.
Also born in 1903 was Charles MacWilliam, in New Jersey, America. He wrestled bantamweight freestyle at the 1924 Paris Olympics, where he was placed 9th. He competed for Cornell University, serving as captain of the wrestling team as a senior. MacWilliam was twice a runner-up at the intercollegiate championships, in the era before NCAA wrestling. Professionally MacWilliam was a hydraulic engineer for Connecticut Light and Power. He died at the age of 72 on 30th September 1975.
Imre Hódos, Hungarian bantamweight wrestler was born in 1928 in Hajdúnánás and died on 23rd April 1989. He was Olympic champion at the 1952 Games in Helsinki, he came fourth in the Melbourne Olympics of 1956 and 11th in Rome, 1960. In the World Championships in 1953 he won the silver medal in the 57kg category.
Russian Aleksandr Ivanov was born in 1951 in the Sakha Republic, who, at the 1976 Olympics, won silver in the freestyle 5 kg. In November 2013, he served as one of the torch bearers in Yakutsk for the 2014 Winter Olympics torch relay.
You In-Tak, born in 1958 in South Korea, won gold at the 1984 Olympics in the 68kg class. His other notable results include a sixth finish at the 1981 World Championships, bronze in the 1982 Asian Games, fifth in the World Cup of 1982 and a silver medal in the 1981 Universiade
11th-Educated in Leipzig, Germany wrestler Dietrich Wortmann was born today in 1884. He competed for Germany in the 1904 Olympic wrestling competition, losing his semi-final bout. As a wrestler, Wortmann was US champion in 1906 in the welterweight class. He stayed in America and became prominent in weightlifting circles, eventually becoming chairman of the AAU weightlifting committee in 1936. In 1951 he was named President of the Federation Internationale de Halterophile (FIH), then the International Weightlifting Federation. For more than 45 years he served as President or Honorary President of the German-American Athletic Club. He was also President of the Metropolitan Association of the AAU from 1949-51. Wortmann made his career as an architect in New York City, he died aged 68 in Queens on 21st September 1952.
William George Matthews, better known as Mick McManus was born in 1920. McManus was among wrestlers such as Mark Rocco and Kendo Nagasaki whose characters bent the rules as far as they could go without being disqualified, much to the fury of the crowd. He was also well known for using short range forearm jabs in matches. He became famous for his trademark black trunks and cropped black hair and for his catchphrase “Not the ears, not the ears”. McManus made more television appearances than any other wrestler in a career which spanned more than 20 years. Losing to Peter Preston by disqualification during his later years, he lost the European Middleweight title on television to a younger wrestler Mal Sanders. McManus won his first wrestling title, the British Welterweight Championship, in 1949 by defeating Eddie Capelli for the vacant championship. He lost the title in 1957, regained it and then dropped it again the following year – all to Jack Dempsey. His 1963 bout against Jackie Pallo was watched by over 20 million people on British television. In November 1967, McManus won the British Middleweight Championship with a victory over Clayton Thomson and won the European Middleweight Championship in June 1968 by defeating Vic Faulkner. Faulkner regained the title belt in September, but McManus won it back in April 1971. He held the championship for almost seven years before losing it to Mal Sanders. McManus and Sanders traded the belt back and forth in matches that year and into the following year, with McManus holding the title a total of four times. After his retirement from active wrestling in 1982, he advised London Weekend Television, until professional wrestling was taken off the air in 1988. He later worked in public relations, owned The Royal Hotel pub in Stoughton Guildford, Surrey, and became a connoisseur of antique porcelain. He also continued to advise professional wrestling promoter, he died at the age of 93 on 22nd May 2013.
Japanese wrestler Kyoko Hamaguchi was born in 1978 in Tokyo. She has won five FILA Wrestling World Championships and two Olympic Bronze medals. She is sponsored by Japan Beverage Inc. and was nominated by the Japanese Olympic Committee’s Special Athlete Campaign. Her father is professional wrestler Animal Hamaguchi, who is known for his emotional displays during Kyoko’s matches. Although Kyoko has long wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and enter the professional game, the lack of a stable women’s circuit since the collapse of All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling has kept her from doing so. She has won the Japan Championship every year from 1996 to 2006, and has won the World Championships five times. In both the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she won a bronze medal in the 72kg class and was placed 11th overall in London 2012. She was also a flag bearer for the Japanese team in the opening Olympic ceremonies in 2004.
Also born on this day in 1978 was French lightweight wrestler Sébastien Serge Hidalgo. A member of US Métro Paris he was coached and trained by Patrice Mourier. At 30 years old Hidalgo made his official debut for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he competed in the 60kg class. He received a bye for the second preliminary round, before losing out to former Olympic silver medallist Roberto Monzón of Cuba, with a technical score of 4–11, overall he was placed 13th.
12th-Robert Behrens was born on this day in 1885 in Assens, Denmark, affiliated to AK Hermod he won a bronze at the 1906 Intercalated Games in the middleweight division. A year later at the Unofficial European Championships he came third in the Unlimited Greco-Roman competition. He passed away in Copenhagen at the age of 57 in December 1942.
Pentti Tuomas Punkari, born in 1938 in Ylistaro, Finland, represented Finland in the Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1960 Olympic Games in the 79kg and in Tokyo in 1964 in the 87kg class. His best achievement was fourth in the Helsingborg World Championships in 1963. He also participated in World Championships in 1967 and 1971. He won the Nordic Championship in 1963. At club level he represented Vaasan Voima-Veikat, Ylistaro’s Race-Breeches, Halla Visa and Kotka Painimies. He won a total of nine Finnish championships in the Greco-Roman wrestling and the freestyle between 1960-1970 and won five of the European Championships while a member of the police force. His brother Viljo Punkari was also an Olympic and Finnish champion.
Born today in 1939 in Mexico, Jorge Rosado, who died aged 70 on 9th June 2009. At the 1960 Olympics, in the freestyle flyweight category, which was fought in the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome, he was placed in 12th place. Other notable results include silvers at both the 1959 and 1963 freestyle flyweight competitions at the Pan American Games.
Japenese Olympic freestyle wrestling champion Yojiro Uetake was born in 1943. He is considered the greatest wrestler in history of Oklahoma State University history, being the only Cowboy to have gone undefeated for the entirety of his college career. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. Uetake had originally hoped to learn judo, but was considered too light! Uetake competed at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo where he won bantamweight gold. He also won gold four years later in Mexico City, despite suffering a dislocated shoulder in the second round while trailing 0-2, Uetake managed to even the score at 2-2, ending up with the gold. Uetake retired from competition after the 1968 Olympics and became a coach at his alma mater, settling in Oklahoma.
Stig Kleven, born 12 in Notodden, Norway in 1967, represented the club IF Urædd. He competed at the 1988 Olympics, where he came 4th in Greco-Roman wrestling. He later came sixth at the 1994 World Wrestling Championships.
Senegalese freestyle wrestler Malal Ndiaye born in Dakar in 1977, competed in the 120kg event at the 2012 Summer Olympics and was eliminated by Jargalsaikhany Chuluunbat in the second round.
13th-Norwegian Einar Stensrud was born today in 1895 in Hamar and died aged 69 on 12th July 1964 in Oslo. He competed in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1920 Summer Olympics, in the middleweight class, where he lost his quarter final match to American Henry Ignatius Szymanski. Stensrud was awarded the King’s Cup at the national championships in 1928.
Travis West, born in 1967 in Phoenix, Arizona, was affiliated to the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club in Scottsdale. He spent five years on the USA Greco-Roman team in the 1990s, highlighted by his 1992 Barcelona Olympic appearance, where he lost in the second round. West wrestled in college at Portland State University, where he won an NCAA D-2 title in 1989, and led the team to NCAA D-2 titles in 1989 and 1990. He later won a bronze medal at the 1992 Pan American Championships, and a silver at the 1991 US Olympic Festival. West had a difficult time after his wrestling career ended. He developed primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease that led to liver failure. He underwent two liver transplants, but in the end the disease took his life when he was only 37-years-old on 14th June 2004.
Vadim Zaurbekovych Tasoyev, from the Ukrain was born in 1975. Considered as one of Ukraine’s top freestyle wrestlers in his decade, Tasoyev claimed four career medals (two silver and two bronze) in the 96 and 97kg division at the European Championships, picked up three bronze at the World Championships (2001, 2002, and 2007), and achieved top fifteen finishes in two editions of the Olympic Games (2000 and 2004). Throughout his sporting career, Tasoyev trained as a member of the freestyle wrestling team for Olympik Kiev Sport Club, under head coach Ruslan Savlokhov. Tasoyev made his official debut at the 2000 Summer Olympics, where he competed in the heavyweight division. He lost his opening match to Russia’s Sagid Murtazaliev, the eventual gold medallist. Shortly after his first Games, Tasoyev emerged into the global scene with a blistering bronze medal effort in the men’s 97kg division at the 2001 World Wrestling Championships and then continued to deliver another one at the same tournament the following year. At the 2004 Olympics Tasoyev fourteenth overall. Tasoyev moved up to the super heavyweight class from 96kg after his second Games, and was determined to fight against his formidable opponents at the 2007 World Wrestling Championships, where he picked up his third career medal. He sought to compete for his third Olympic bid in Beijing, but decided to officially announced his retirement from wrestling for personal and political reason.
Swedish born Greek wrestler Theodoros Tounousidis, born today in 1984, competed in the heavyweight division at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He received a bye for the second round, before losing out to Georgia’s Ramaz Nozadze, with a technical score of 1–3, and a classification point score of 1–3. Tounousidis eventually won the silver medal for the heavyweight category at the 2009 Mediterranean Games in Pescara, Italy, losing out to Turkey’s Serkan Ozden. He is also a member of Spårvägens BK in Stockholm, Sweden, being coached and trained by Ryszard Swierad.
Adam Batirov, an Avar Dagestani-born Russian Naturalized Bahraini freestyle wrestler was born today in 1985. He is World Cadet Championships runner-up and Cadet European Champion (2002). Three time Ivan Yarygin winner, National Russian Freestyle wrestling Champion (2007). Senior European Champion. At the 2016 Asian Wrestling Championship he won gold, in the final match he beat Kumar Vinod of India. Adam is the younger brother of two-time Olympic Champion Mavlet Batirov. After he won the 2016 World Wrestling Olympic Qualification Tournament he qualified for Bahrain for the 2016 Olympics, where he lost in round one to Ikhtiyor Navruzov from Uzbekistan.
14th -Born on this day 1901 in The Hague, Netherlands, Antonie Misset, who competed in the Greco-Roman light heavyweight event at the 1924 Olympics. Affiliated to his local club in The Hague – Simson, Misset was placed sixth at the 1924 Games. The competition took place at the Winter Velodrome in Paris between 6th and 10th July and was won by Carl Westergren of Sweden. Misset died aged 73 on 1st December 1974.
German born, Austrian wrestler Georg Weidner was born in 1914, he grew up in Groß-Zimmern and joined the local wrestling club and was successful at regional levels, reaching the top-class of German competition by the age of 22, when he came 3rd in the German featherweight championship, he repeated this endeavour in 1940. In 1942, due to the war he moved to Ostmark in Austria and then settled in Salzburg and by the 1948 Olympics was competing for Austria. He finished in 4th place in the Greco-Roman featherweight division, with victories over Safi Taha from Lebanon, Raymond Strasser, from Luxembourg and defeats against Mehmet Oktav of Turkey and Sweden’s Olle Anderberg. In 1950 he was German team champion.
Knut Erik Botvid Olsson, born in 1930 in the Kristianstad Municipality of Sweden. He was placed fourth at the 1963 World championships and was crowned Nordic champion the same year. He represented his country at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but was eliminated in qualifying round of the 63kg division.
Karl Dodrimont, born today in 1939, retired bantamweight freestyle wrestler from West Germany, won a bronze medal at the 1965 World Championships and was sixth at the world and European championships in 1966. He also competed at the 1964 Olympics. He won the inter-national qualifications against East German wrestler Karl-Heinz Gorny, qualifying for the 1964 Tokyo Games. He then lost the first two matches in freestyle bantamweight, and was eliminated. Dodrimont won six West German national titles in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, with three more second and third places.
Murat Nausbievich Kardanov, born in the Zaragii village of Kabardino-Balkaria in 1971, is a Circassian wrestler and Olympic Greco-Roman champion. During his career Kardanov won gold medals in Russian Championships 4 times (1992, 1993, 1998, 2000), in European Championships (1998) and Olympic Games (2000). He also took bronze medal in World Championships (1993).
Egyptian lightweight Greco-Roman wrestler Ashraf El-Gharably was born in 1979. He is a two-time All-Africa Games gold medalist, a three-time Olympian, and a multiple-time African wrestling champion. He also won bronze at the 2001 Mediterranean Games in Tunis, Tunisia, and eventually defeated Serbia and Montenegro’s Davor Štefanek for the gold at the 2005 Mediterranean Games. El-Gharably made his debut for the 2004 Olympics, where he came second in the preliminary pool of the 60kg. At the 2008 Olympics he lost the qualifying round match by a superiority decision to Romania’s Eusebiu Diaconu, after the pair had tied 3–3. At the 2012 Olympics in London, he switched to a heavier category (66kg class), he first defeated Ecuador’s Orlando Huacón in the preliminary round of sixteen, before losing out the quarter-final match to Georgian wrestler Manuchar Tskhadaia, who was able to score six points in two straight periods, leaving El-Gharably without a single point.