Saturday 6th May. It’s a rainy night in Istanbul. But the real storm is brewing underneath that roof where the pouring rain is falling.
East vs West….due to important geographical differences over the years two competitive realities have been created, divided between the western world (the American continent and the English-speaking world in general) as opposed to Europe and Asia. And with them, the age-old question arises, which of the respective champions has the real right to boast the title of “best in the world”.
The designated battle site is the city where Asia and Europe meet, Constantinople, Byzantium…Istanbul.
To tell the truth, the evening will not be opened by an east vs west themed match, but we will see the Lithuanian Mindaugas Tarasitas win a relatively easy victory against the Ossetian (Caucasian region of Russia) Oleg Cherkashov.
The match is a quick 3 – 0 for Tarasitas, who will never find himself in trouble, always remaining in total control.
The second match sees Adam Wawrzynski ( one of the best Americans at ~90kg, and winner in total dominance against Bozhidar Simenov, multiple world champion at 80kg in the last edition of east vs west ) face Bacho Saginashvili. Bacho is an unknown quantity, the youngest athlete of the evening at just 18, making his world debut. Due to lack of “proof”, on paper Adam starts as the favourite, but the match will take an unexpected turn, with an almost “bored” win by the 18-year-old Georgian, who won’t even seem to warm up. Definitely a future legend of the sport. 3-0.
We continue with Doug Elrich vs Daniel Procopciuc. Despite the slight difference in weight (doug 83kg, Daniel 77kg) the Moldovan athlete will bring a clinical performance, bordering on arrogance; playing with Doug in every position, and taking home the second 3-0 easily for the east team.
As the fourth match, Zurab Tavberidze and Rob Vigeant Junior will face each other. The first currently in an impressive string of successes at 95kg, culminating in winning the prestigious AMC Chechen tournament. The second coming from a years hiatus from the competitive scene. The match will prove to be more fought than the previous ones, with Rob Vigeant who, despite the “rust” due to the long break, will prove to have a superior hand, but his efforts will not be enough to interrupt the winning streak of the Georgian Zurab. 3-0.
The fifth match is the first match of the night in which a title is contested, and the first of two matches on the left arm.
Alzihan Muratov, a young Kazakh 100kg athlete faces Kody Merrit, a 48-year-old 160kg from the cold mountains of Utah.
Alizhan will once again demonstrate the incredible strength of him. Already with no opponents in his weight class, he beat Kody in a quick 3 – 0, thus establishing himself as one of the best pund for pound athletes in the world (despite the fact that Alizhan weighs only 100kg, he is able to beat opponents of any higher weight category).
The sixth match sees another Kazakh athlete face the home favorite, n1 in Turkey, super heavyweight Arif Ertem, 160kg, against Georgi Dzeranov, 130kg.
After an explosive 2-0 by Arif in toproll, and the match that seemed already over, Dzeranov surprises everyone with an incredible comeback, recovering the lost points and tiring the opponent. The match ends 3-2 for Georgi Dzeranov, thanks to an impressive defensive hook.
The seventh match, although not with a title on the line, was one of the most anticipated. Dave Chaffee vs. Revaz Lutidze. Dave, despite not being a particularly technical armwrestler, has always compensated with inhuman brute strength, and the few athletes able to beat him have always found great difficulty in doing so, with very rare exceptions.
That’s why, Revaz’s lightning-fast 3-0 victory, without Dave even making it to the straps, took everyone by surprise. Lutidze’s 155kg weighed against Dave’s 125kg, making the score 5-0 for team east.
The eighth match, and second and last with regard to the left arm, sees Tobias Sporrong, future Swedish arm wrestling promise (193cm 130kg) face the giant from Krasoyarsk, Vitaly Laletin (202cm 132kg).
These two athletes are currently ranked 1st and 2nd in the world in finger grip strength (~160kg), but this closeness in grip strength was not found at the table as well, where Vitaly took a quick victory in the straps . 3-0.
For the fourth match of georgia vs u.s.a. and ninth match of the card Davit Samushia (in his fourth title defense) and Brandon Elsessor faced each other. Both athletes had a registered weight of 85kg, cap of the title at stake, but thanks to an effective weight cut Brandon managed to arrive at the table with an impressive 15kg more. Despite this advantage in terms of body weight the American athlete was defeated in a close fight, but never out of control by Davit, who won 3-0, and brought the east vs west score to 6-0.
Sasho Andreev made his debut in this promotion by facing Paul Linn, the 95kg champion, to snatch the title from him in 10 matches of the evening.
Despite a start in favor of the American, who conquers the first 2 rounds in a dominated way, due to a superior resistance Sasho manages to come back, and concludes a match fought from start to finish in the hook with a 3-2.
At 88kg (against Paul’s 103kg) Sasho is the new east vs west champion at 95kg, and scores another win on the draw, 7-0.
Penultimate match of the evening, Kydrigali Ongarbaev faces Irakli Zirakashvili, for the defense of the east vs west title at 105kg.
Irakli proves he deserves this match, approaching the victim several times, but Ongarbaev, thanks to his superior experience and technical skills without equal in the world, manages to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses, successfully defending the title, showing off his versatility and fluidity. The match ended 3-0 for the athlete from Kazakhstan.
In the twelfth and final match of this event, we see Devon Larrat take on Genadi Kvikvinia.
Devon Larrat, regarded as a heavy favorite by most fans and pundits, comes off a winning streak at 115kg, where he holds the category title. In search of more demanding challenges, he moves up to super heavyweight, in the hunt for his first career win against a European heavyweight (for now 0-2 following his defeats against Levan Saginashvili and Denis Cyplenkov).
The match opens with an exchange of blows which sees the Canadian athlete of 128kg as the favorite, against the Georgian of 145kg. Following a double fault by Devon the score goes 0-1, for now not reflecting the strength at the table.
Larrat capitalizes on advantageous positions obtained in the setup to score two quick pins, detaching himself at 2-1 and cementing the bookmakers’ convictions.
But thanks to a stricter and more correct refereeing, and drawing on incredible reserves of willpower and energy, Genadi manages to completely overturn the match, in an extremely divided atmosphere between the East and West factions, and reaches a victory 3 -2 demonstrating superior strength.
Not a few controversies will follow the result of this last match, which marks the complete defeat (0-8) for the West team, and the inability of the Canadian n1 Devon Larrat to win in the super heavyweight category (now 0-3).
From accusations of bad, or even corrupt, refereeing to the total lack of recognition of the match, a lot of anger feeds the comments of disappointed fans on all fronts, but to an objective judgment it is evident that no injustices were committed by the referees and the match, for what was fought on the razor’s edge, has led to the victory of the deserving athlete.
Devon Larrat immediately asked for a rematch, just as quickly accepted by Genadi Kvikvinia, according to recent rumors it will be held towards the end of August, it will be the defeat that will put an end to Devon’s super heavyweight career, or a 1-1 that Will it lay the groundwork for a final playoff chapter?
We will find out soon!