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Wrestling giants: 5 greatest pro wrestlers of all times



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Over the years, the world of wrestling has witnessed the rise of extraordinary athletes who have demonstrated unparalleled skill, strength, and determination, dominating their opponents with precision and power. Now, we present our selections for the top 5 greatest pro wrestlers of all times. Discover the legends who have left an indelible mark on the sport, showcasing their prowess on the world’s greatest stage.

Mijaín López

Meet Mijaín López Núñez, the towering figure in Greco-Roman wrestling, standing at an impressive 1.98m tall. Renowned for his unparalleled dominance, López has etched his name in Olympic history, clinching an unprecedented four consecutive gold medals. Hailing from Cuba, López’s remarkable journey began in Pinar Del Rio on August 20, 1982.

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Standing atop our list of the greatest pro wrestlers of all times, López’s feat of earning the most gold medals in his discipline is unparalleled. Not only is he the first male Olympian to secure four golds in wrestling, but he is also the sole wrestler to retain all of his medals. Since his triumph in 2008, López has remained unbeaten, showcasing his sheer dominance in the 130kg category, a feat that solidifies his status as a legend in the sport.

López’s Olympic legacy spans five consecutive Games, commencing in 2004, where he made his mark with a fifth-place finish. However, it was in 2008 that he ascended to greatness, seizing gold and embarking on an unprecedented winning streak. In both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, López proudly bore Cuba’s flag during the opening ceremonies, symbolizing his nation’s pride and his own indomitable spirit.

His reign continued in the subsequent Olympics, with back-to-back gold medals in the 130kg category at the 2016 and 2020 Games, where he maintained a flawless record, not conceding a single point. Beyond the Olympic stage, López’s dominance extends to the World Championships, where he boasts five titles, and the Pan American Games, where he stands as a champion.

As anticipation builds for the 2024 Paris Olympics, López aims to etch his name in the annals of history once again, vying to become the first wrestler to achieve an unprecedented five Olympic gold medals. With his unmatched skill, unwavering determination, and towering presence, Mijaín López continues to redefine the boundaries of excellence in the world of wrestling.

Aleksandr Karelin

Standing at 1.91m tall, Karelin is a retired Russian Greco-Roman wrestler. Enter the realm of wrestling legend, Aleksandr Karelin, whose prowess and dominance have left an indelible mark on the sport. Born on September 19, 1967, in Novosibirsk, Russia, Karelin’s journey began with a staggering entrance into the world, weighing a hefty 5.5kg at birth.

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Renowned for his technical brilliance and unrivaled physical prowess, Karelin’s illustrious career spans three consecutive Olympic gold medals and one silver, accompanied by an astounding 25 world-level victories in his senior career, and four in his junior years. Despite earning one less Olympic gold than Mijaín López, Karelin’s impact transcends mere medal counts.

Philip Hersh aptly encapsulated Karelin’s dominance, stating that he not only ruled Greco-Roman wrestling but also struck fear into the hearts of his competitors. Karelin’s signature move, the “Karelin Lift,” epitomized his unparalleled strength and technique, effortlessly hoisting opponents weighing up to 130kg and executing throws worth five points each.

What set Karelin apart was not just his immense size but his dedication to training. Embracing an ethos of relentless preparation, Karelin pushed himself to extremes, transforming into a supple and agile athlete despite his colossal stature. His agility was evident in feats like backflips and splits, showcasing a flexibility and grip strength reminiscent of an anaconda.

In a testament to his strength and determination, Karelin famously carried his “biggest opponent,” a 230kg refrigerator, up eight flights of stairs to his apartment—a feat that mirrored his resilience and tenacity on the mat. While his Olympic medal count may fall short of López’s, Karelin’s legacy as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time is undeniable, leaving an enduring imprint on the sport that transcends mere accolades.

Buvaisar Saitiev

Step into the arena of wrestling history and meet Buvaisar Saitiev, hailed as the undisputed titan of freestyle wrestling. Born on March 11, 1975, in Khasavyurt, Saitiev’s legacy transcends mere accolades, earning him the title of the greatest freestyle wrestler of all time. Standing at a formidable 1.83m tall and weighing 74kg, he possessed a combination of skill, tenacity, and resilience that propelled him to unprecedented heights in the sport.

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Over 13 illustrious years, Saitiev’s dominance knew no bounds, as he emerged victorious in nine out of eleven Olympic and World tournaments he contested. His remarkable achievements include an impressive six-time World Champion and six-time European Champion titles, solidifying his status as a true wrestling legend.

Saitiev’s Olympic journey is nothing short of extraordinary, clinching gold medals at the 1996, 2004, and 2008 Games, while his younger brother, Adam, mirrored his triumph by seizing the Olympic title in the same weight class in 2000. Despite grappling with a neck injury in 2007, Saitiev exhibited unparalleled courage and determination, triumphing once again at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before gracefully retiring from the sport.

Off the mat, Saitiev epitomized humility and modesty, living by the profound words of Nobel Prize-winning poet Boris Pasternak: “It is not seemly to be famous.” This ethos defined his approach to wrestling and life, underscoring his unwavering dedication and integrity.

Today, Saitiev continues to serve his community as the acting State Duma Deputy for his hometown’s Republic, Dagestan, embodying the values of leadership and service instilled in him both on and off the mat. As wrestling enthusiasts celebrate his enduring legacy, Buvaisar Saitiev remains a beacon of inspiration for generations to come.

Aleksandr Medved

One of the greatest pro wrestlers of all times, Aleksandr Medved, a towering figure in the world of wrestling was hailed by FILA as “one of the greatest wrestlers in history.” Born on September 16, 1937, in Bila Tserkva, Medved emerged as a true titan of the sport, despite being one of the smaller members of his family, standing at 1.9m tall and weighing over 100kg.

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Medved’s unparalleled prowess on the mat earned him three Olympic gold medals, triumphing in 1964, 1968, and 1972, a feat that solidified his status as a wrestling icon. His dominance extended beyond the Olympics, with seven World Championship titles and three European Championship victories under his belt.

In recognition of his extraordinary achievements, Medved was named the best Belarusian athlete of the 20th century in 2001, a testament to his enduring legacy and impact on the sport. His contributions to wrestling were further honored when he was inducted into the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame as one of its first 10 inductees in 2003.

Throughout his illustrious career, Medved proudly represented his country on the international stage, serving as the Olympic flag bearer for the Soviet Union in 1972 and for Belarus in 2004. Additionally, he had the honor of reciting the Judge’s Oath at the 1980 Olympics Opening Ceremony, further solidifying his esteemed position in the wrestling community.

Today, Medved remains an esteemed citizen of Minsk, where his legacy is celebrated annually through an esteemed wrestling tournament held in his honor. Established in the 1970s, this tournament has garnered International Grand Prix status since 1994, a fitting tribute to the enduring legacy of a true wrestling legend, Aleksandr Medved.

Ivar Johansson

Step into the storied legacy of Swedish Olympic wrestler, Ivar Johansson, whose remarkable journey epitomizes the spirit of triumph against all odds. Born on January 31, 1903, in Norrköping, Johansson’s prowess on the wrestling mat propelled him to Olympic glory and cemented his status as a national hero. His remarkable career spanned three Olympic Games, from 1928 to 1936, where he clinched an impressive three gold medals.

Johansson’s crowning achievements came at the 1932 Olympics, where he etched his name in the annals of wrestling history by capturing gold in both freestyle middleweight and Greco-Roman welterweight categories. However, his unparalleled determination and grit were perhaps best showcased when he embarked on a remarkable feat just two days later.

Facing the daunting task of competing in the Greco-Roman welterweight event, Johansson undertook an extraordinary challenge, shedding five kilograms in just two days through fasting and intense sauna sessions. Undeterred by the physical toll, he emerged victorious in all four bouts with remarkable ease, demonstrating his sheer resilience and unwavering resolve.

In recognition of his extraordinary achievements, Johansson was bestowed with the prestigious Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal in 1932, a testament to his significant contribution to Swedish sports.

While Johansson’s Olympic triumphs stand as enduring testaments to his greatness, his dominance extended beyond the Olympic stage. Despite never competing in World Championships, he claimed an impressive nine European Championships titles from 1931 to 1939, solidifying his status as a force to be reckoned with in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.

As we reflect on the legacy of Ivar Johansson, we are reminded not only of his remarkable athletic prowess but also of his unwavering determination and indomitable spirit, qualities that continue to inspire generations of wrestlers and sports enthusiasts alike.

As we celebrate their achievements and reflect on their enduring legacy, we are reminded of the timeless values of sportsmanship, perseverance, and dedication that define the Olympic movement. These greatest pro wrestlers of all times serve as a testament to the transformative power of sport and the boundless potential of the human spirit, igniting flames of inspiration in all who witness their remarkable feats on the grand stage of the Olympic Games.

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