Team America didn’t do so well in Greco-Roman wrestling today. St. Louis native Spenser Mango failed to make the medal round and the sole moral victory for Team America today was the big man Robbie Smith losing a hard fought bronze match to the Russian Bilyal Makhov (Makhov later walked up to me and randomly gave me Salaams).
Smith-Makhov was a clash of body types. Makhov a chubby American built like a cabbie and Makhov a mean looking Russian built like Ivan Drago. In the end the Russian prevailed 10-8 in an exciting match. Smith excited the crowd and as they chanted USA for him I couldn’t help but to think of the late great Dusty Rhodes.
Cuban Ismael Borrero Molina won gold at 59kg and Azerbaijani
Rasul Chunayev won at 71kg. Turkey finished strong with Selcuk Cebi winning gold at 80kg and Riza Kaylaap at 130kg. I tried to interview Cebi impressed by his prostration on the Turkish Flag after his victory: but was unable to do so. However, I was able to talk to some Turkish wrestling staff who warmly greeted me with Salaams.
A beautiful moment of the day for me was watching Won Chol Yun of North Korea wrestle his Iranian opponent in Las Vegas. That’s the beauty of international sports. It tears down borders.
Several videos are available at the Umar Lee YouTube Channel, photos at Instagram and live tweets.