Armenian wrestlers shine at the 2024 European Wrestling Championships

Four Armenian wrestlers walked away from the 2024 European Wrestling Championships in Bucharest, Romania donning gold medals around their necks. The weeklong competition had more than 500 athletes representing 38 nations fighting for intercontinental honors. 

Malkhas Amoyan became a four-time European champion for his dominant performance against Turkey’s Yunus Emre Basar with a 7-0 score in the gold medal match. Amoyan’s quarterfinal and semifinal bouts were decided by just one point (3-2 and 2-1 respectively) before he clinched gold in the men’s Greco-Roman 77-kg competition. 

Amoyan, during his return to Armenia, told reporters at that this gold medal victory was difficult for him. “Everyone is preparing against you. They say that becoming a champion is difficult. Keeping the title is even more difficult. It really is. Thanks to the coaches, I was able to wrestle correctly and be recognized as the winner.”

The Yazidi-Armenian wrestler has his sights set on the Olympics, where he could become the second Armenian (after Artur Aleksanyan) to win gold in the European Championships, World Championships and Olympics. “I will do everything to return from Paris with a gold medal. The European Championship was the first tournament of this year. I’m glad I started with a win. This gold medal gave me more confidence to be able to move forward,” Amoyan said. 

As for the Greco-Roman 97-kg division, the legendary Artur Aleksanyan outwrestled Magomed Murtazaliev, representing Individual Neutral Athletes, to win his seventh European championship. The 32-year-old Aleksanyan’s illustrious medal count rose to 23, including his gold and bronze victories at the World Junior Championships.

Aleksanyan told journalists at Zvartnots International Airport that every championship comes with its own price. “Becoming a European champion is always difficult. Every year I feel that everyone is basically preparing against me. In this sense, it gets harder every time, but thank God, I manage to win,” Aleksanyan said. 

The ‘White Bear’ also alluded to his wrestling future. “I don’t know what will happen later. The Olympic Games are ahead, after which it will be clear.”

In men’s freestyle, Arsen Harutyunyan was first to medal after sweeping every opponent he faced with 10-0 scores to become a four-time European Champion in the 57-kg division. Harutyunyan faced Azerbaijan’s Islam Bazarganov and Turkey’s Muhammet Karavuş in the semifinals and finals respectively to win gold, scoring a 10-0 win in the final in just 54 seconds.

Harutyunyan credited not only his success, but the entire Armenian wrestling team’s success, to hard work and teamwork in an Instagram post. “We have been preparing for this European Championship for months and going through a lot of difficulties with our coaches, but we are ready to do more to get the Olympic gold,” Harutyunyan wrote. 

In the 70-kg freestyle competition, Arman Andreasyan had a European championship to remember. The 20-year-old underdog bested France’s Seyfula Itaev 6-5 in the quarterfinals, world champion Ismail Musukaev 8-5 in the semifinals and Akaki Kemertelidze 7-3 in the gold medal match for his first career European championship. 

Andreasyan nearly missed out on competing in the gold medal match. During his semifinal bout, the Armenian wrestler scored four points with less than 10 seconds remaining, going from a 4-5 disadvantage to an 8-5 victory.

“I am very happy that I managed to become the winner of the European Championship. I had silver and bronze medals and the desire was very big to win the gold. I thank God for giving me a chance to achieve my goal,” Andreasyan said in an Instagram post.

Armenia’s newest European champion also took time to dedicate his win to his late cousin, Taron Andreasyan, who died during the 44-day war in Artsakh in 2020.

Other Armenian wrestlers to medal include Manvel Khachatryan in Greco-Roman 55-kg (bronze, Armenia), Mezhlum Mezhlumyan in Greco-Roman 61-kg (bronze, Armenia), Edmond Nazaryan in Greco-Roman 63-kg (bronze, Bulgaria) and Narek Oganian in Greco-Roman 72-kg (bronze, Individual Neutral Athletes).

The focus now shifts to Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics, where Arsen Harutyunyan (men’s freestyle 57-kg), Vazgen Tevanyan (men’s freestyle 65-kg), Slavik Galstyan (men’s Greco-Roman 67-kg), Malkhas Amoyan (men’s Greco-Roman 77-kg) and Artur Aleksanyan (men’s Greco-Roman 97-kg) have already qualified. Olympic wrestling will take place August 5-11.

Jason Takhtadjian

Jason Takhtadjian

Jason Takhtadjian is a reporter, producer and weekend anchor at KCAU-TV in Sioux City, Iowa. Takhtadjian began college pursuing Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Aerospace until deciding to pursue a sports broadcast career after one semester at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. While at UNLV, Takhtadjian worked on his own weekly radio show/podcast covering soccer and basketball, produced his own sports debate show, was part of the university’s weekly sports show “The Rebel Report” and was the play-by-play commentator for UNLV men’s and women’s soccer and basketball, to name a few. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Jason was graduating college and had to pivot to the world of general news to land a job. Three years after accepting a job in the middle of the United States with no Armenian community, Takhtadjian accepted a reporter position at KSEE in Fresno, California. The 26-year-old also worked as a contributor for Armenian Sports News, helping grow the page by thousands of followers in less than a year of work.

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