Greek wrestler Georgios Pilidis won gold for Greece on Sunday at the United World Wrestling Under-23 World Championships, held in Serbia.
He defeated Russia’s Ibragim Abdurakhmanov 4-3 to claim gold in the 65kg category. Azerbaijan’s Ziraddin Bayramov and Turkey’s Cavit Acar won the bronze medals.
“At last, I woke up as world champion!” he wrote on Instagram the day after his triumph.
Pilidis, who was born in Athens on January 21, 2000, is the holder of eight medals from the World and European Junior Championships, a record yet to be broken by another freestyle wrestler.
Pilidis a proud Pontian
He is of Pontian descent and proud of it. Speaking recently to Pontos News he spoke of his pride. He recalled that he won the gold medal at the European Championships of 2016, he raised the Pontian flag.
“I received criticism for doing so. There were almost eight thousand comments for what I did. About half were favorable, the rest critical. I may not have been completely right, but I hoisted the Pontian flag on my shoulders and then stood proudly under the blue and white on the podium. In this way, I wanted to declare that my heart beats for both of these sacred symbols,” he told Pontos News.
Wrestling, a popular sport in both ancient and modern Greece
Wrestling was the most popular organized sport in ancient Greece. A point was scored when one player touched the ground with his back, hip or shoulder, or conceding defeat due to a submission-hold or was forced out of the wrestling area. Three points had to be scored to win the match.
Wrestling was the first competition to be added to the Olympic Games that was not a footrace. Regarded as the best expression of strength out of all of the competitions, it was represented in Greek mythology by Heracles.
Modern Greece continues the ancient tradition of wrestling today, with the country winning 12 medals in the modern Olympic Games.
Jim Londos, born Christos Theofilou, was perhaps the most celebrated Greek wrestler in the 20th century. An impoverished Greek who decided to move to the United States, he was to become one of the most prominent sports figures of his time.