Greatest freestyle wrestlers of all time

This is a ranking of the best wrestlers in the world in freestyle wrestling of all time. The athletes are ranked according to their World Championship and Olympic Games titles. If the number is the same, silver and bronze medals are also considered. Wrestlers who are still active and who can theoretically move up in the ranking, their names are highlighted in red. Jordan Burroughs has dominated the 74kg/79kg class for over a decade. Once again he showed that he is an exceptional athlete. In 2022 he has moved up from 12th to 7th place in the rankings. (last updated: 2022)

1. Aleksandr Medved

Belarusian, representing Soviet Union

10 world level titles

1962 world champion

1963 world champion

1964 Olympic champion

1966 world champion

1967 world champion

1968 Olympic champion

1969 world champion

1970 world champion

1971 world champion

1972 Olympic champion

Nicknamed „the Bear“ (of Belarus)

2. Buvaisar Saitiev

Chechen, representing Russia

9 world level titles

1995 world champion

1996 Olympic champion

1997 world champion

1998 world champion

2001 world champion

2003 world champion

2004 Olympic champion

2005 world champion

2008 Olympic champion

Widely considered as the greatest freestyle wrestler of all time.

3. Sergei Beloglazov

Russian, representing Soviet Union

8 world level titles

1980 Olympic champion

1981 world champion

1982 world champion 

1983 world champion 

1985 world champion 

1986 world champion 

1987 world champion 

1988 Olympic champion

Beloglazov has a twin brother who also became an Olympic champion and a three-time world champion.

3. Arsen Fadzaev

Ossetian, representing Soviet Union

8 world level titles

1983 world champion

1985 world champion

1986 world champion

1987 world champion

1988 Olympic champion

1990 world champion

1991 world champion

1992 Olympic champion

Fadzaev was already 14 years old when he started wrestling.

5. Valentin Yordanov

Bulgarian, representing Bulgaria

8 world level titles

1983 world champion

1985 world champion

1987 world champion

1989 world champion

1993 world champion

1994 world champion

1995 world champion

1996 Olympic champion

When the International Olympic Committee planned to exclude wrestling from the Olympics, Yordanov returned his Olympic gold medal in protest in 2013.

6. Makharbek Khadartsev

Ossetian, representing Soviet Union

7 world level titles

1986 world champion

1987 world champion

1988 Olympic champion

1989 world champion

1990 world champion

1991 world champion

1992 Olympic champion

Khadartsev wrestled for a time for the wrestling club ASV Lampertheim in the German Premier League.

7. Jordan Burroughs

American, represting United States

7 world level titles

2011 world champion

2012 Olympic champion

2013 world champion

2015 world champion

2017 world champion

2021 world champion

2022 world champion

Burroughs‘ specialty is the double leg attack.

8. Abdulrashid Sadulaev

Avarian, representing Russia

7 world level titles

2014 world champion

2015 world champion

2016 Olympic champion

2018 world champion

2019 world champion

2020 Olympic champion

2021 world champion

The „Russian Tank“ Sadulaev is currently considered No. 1 pound-for-pound.

9. Soslan Andiyev

Ossetian, represting Soviet Union

6 world level titles

1973 world champion

1975 world champion

1976 Olympic champion

1977 world champion

1978 world champion

1980 Olympic champion

In 1971, Andiyev and his two brothers placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the Russian Heavyweight Championships.

9. Levan Tediashvili

Georgian, represting Soviet Union

6 world level titles

1971 world champion

1972 Olympic champion

1973 world champion

1974 world champion

1975 world champion

1976 Olympic champion

Tediashvili played in the two Georgian movies „Khareba da Gogia“ and „Brighton 4th“ the role of a fighter.

11. John Smith

American, representing United States

6 world level titles

1987 world champion

1988 Olympic champion

1989 world champion

1990 world champion

1991 world champion

1992 Olympic champion

Smith was a master of the low single leg attack.

12. Leri Khabelov

Ossetian, representing Soviet Union and Russia

6 world level titles

1985 world champion

1987 world champion

1990 world champion

1991 world champion

1992 Olympic champion

1993 world champion

Khabelov is currently president of the Georgian National Olympic Committee.

13. Khadzhimurat Gatsalov

Ossetian, representing Russia

6 world level titles

2004 Olympic champion

2005 world champion

2006 world champion

2007 world champion

2009 world champion

2013 world champion

Gatsalov won his last world title at heavyweight, all others up to 96 kg.

14. Abdollah Movahed

Iranian, representing Iran

6 world level titles

1965 world champion

1966 world champion

1967 world champion

1968 Olympic champion

1969 world champion

1970 world champion

Movahed grew up in the wrestling stronghold of Māzandarān and moved to the United States after his wrestling career ended.

15. Bruce Baumgartner

American, representing United States

5 world level titles

1984 Olympic champion

1986 world champion

1992 Olympic champion

1993 world champion

1995 world champion

For 13 years, Baumgartner always finished in the top three at world level tournaments, except for 1991.

16. Mustafa Dağıstanlı

Turkish, representing Turkey

5 world level titles

1954 world champion

1956 Olympic champion

1957 world champion

1959 world champion

1960 Olympic champion

Between 1954 and 1960 Dağıstanlı won all his fights except one.

17. Yuji Takada

Japanese, representing Japan

5 world level titles

1974 world champion

1975 world champion

1976 Olympic champion

1977 world champion

1979 world champion

Takada was several years head coach of the Japanese freestyle team.

18. Vladimir Yumin

Russian, representing Soviet Union

5 world level titles

1974 world champion

1976 Olympic champion

1977 world champion

1978 world champion

1979 world champion

After first successes as a teenager, Jumin was delegated from Siberia to Dagestan, where he stayed.

19. Aleksandr Ivanitsky

Russian, representing Soviet Union

5 world level titles

1962 world champion

1963 world champion

1964 Olympic champion

1965 world champion

1966 world champion

Ivanitsky was undefeated in the heavyweight division from 1962 to 1966.

20. Ali Aliyev

Avar-Dagestani, representing Soviet Union

5 world level titles

1959 world champion

1961 world champion

1962 world champion

1966 world champion

1967 world champion

Aliyev was the first wrestler from Dagestan to win a world title in freestyle wrestling.


See also the greatest wrestlers of all time in Greco-Roman style.