Wonder Wrestling Antwerp Muhammed Abderahmanov takes silver at the European Championship: “In 2024 I will win an Olympic medal” (Antwerp)

Muhammed Abdurahmanov was born and raised in Burgerhout and has been living with his family on the Left Bank for three years. “I started wrestling when I was seven years old,” he smiles. We met him at Park Sport Nord, in Barclads. The place where his wrestling club is located. He holds his medal proudly. Fantastic sample. “It is the first time that I have obtained such an original medal.” He is proud. That’s right.

“Wrestling, I grew up with that,” he says. “This is the tradition with us.” And we, by that meaning Chechnya, the place where its roots lie. “There is still a lot of struggle going on in Chechnya. My dad used to do that too. Even as a kid, my dream was to be able to wrestle for Belgium at the international level.”

What makes this sport so special? “It’s a very difficult sport and one of the fairest,” he says. This opinion is supported by one of the coaches of his club, Ramdi Olbayev (27). “Wrestling is a very pure sport. You win based on endurance, technique and strength. Tricks don’t work here. It takes a lot of discipline to become a good wrestler.”

The photo was taken during the European Championships in Rome. © rr

Abdurahmanov knows all about it. “I wrestle in the up to 70kg category. For me, that means I always have to go through a weight loss process in the weeks leading up to the competition. Then I go on a strict diet and train in warm clothes. On the morning of the race itself, we will be weighed at 8am. Two hours later we have to take to the mat. In those two hours, the healing process takes place where I have to eat and drink. The weight I gained as a result, should come back down again by the next morning – if I’ve made it to the next round.”

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Losing weight is one of the hardest things for him. “But I’m falling more and more in love with my sport. I do this full time. I get up every day at 6 am. Then I’ll walk first. After that I rest, I read something, and then I have a training session in the afternoon and in the evening. So I train. Three times a day, except on Sundays. This is my day of rest.”

So relaxing with friends is not an immediate option. He was finding it difficult, he says. But today he is happy with the way he chose. I grew up in Borgerhout and try to motivate my friends to exercise too and stay away from criminal matters. A lot of people have already trained for it. Or sometimes we go for a walk together. I am satisfied with my way of life. Hanging out on the street doesn’t pay off.”

© Joris Heregoods

the Olympics

The World Cup in Bulgaria awaits him in five weeks. There are many countries that have strong candidates. I know most of them. All of these are wonderful guests. We’re friends, except for those six minutes we’re having on the carpet.”

He says he believes in it. He went? “I’m going for a medal anyway. Mentally I’m very strong now. I have friends who train hard but are less prepared mentally. That’s why they didn’t win. I motivate myself all the time.”

His ultimate goal is to represent Belgium at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Then I will win an Olympic medal. To be selected for the Games, I have to finish in the top five at the World Cup next year.” With the seniors, not the U20. “I’ve been competing with the seniors since I was 15, I can do that.”

The photo was taken during the European Championships in Rome.

The photo was taken during the European Championships in Rome. © rr

More appreciation

Abdurahmanov’s life is entirely devoted to his sport. “I train all year round. Even when I am on vacation, I keep moving. My parents are 100% supportive of me. They are very proud of me.”

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But there is a “but”. There are hardly any prize money to be earned in wrestling. My father is a bus driver and my brother finances everything. It would be great if our sport was better supported, if you could help me finance internships and flights to competitions, for example.” The infrastructure of the club itself is not quite ready.” We train on the judo mat, we are not allowed to put the wrestling mat here. But he doesn’t feel the same.”

So his sport should be given more love and appreciation, Mohammed believes. “Because today there are a lot of guys who started wrestling. If only because you were for the famous MMA (Mixed martial arts, editor) Wrestling as a basis. Many of the young people I train with in the hall have the same dreams as mine.”

The photo was taken during the European Championships in Rome.

The photo was taken during the European Championships in Rome. © rr

Amber Webster

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