Olympic Wrestler Savagely Bitten In Heated Semi-Final

by : Hannah Smith on : 05 Aug 2021 15:13
Olympic Wrestler Savagely Bitten In Heated Semi-FinalISH News/YouTube

We all know the traditional rules of wrestling: no touching of the hair or face.

Okay, so maybe that’s Anchorman, but we’re pretty sure that a move pulled by one Olympic wrestler earlier this week goes against the rules no matter what version of the sport you’re playing, after he sunk his teeth into his opponent mid-match.


Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan used the unorthodox tactic in a last-ditch attempt during his semi-final loss to India’s Ravi Kumar in the freestyle 57kg wrestling category at Tokyo 2020, after his opponent got himself into a winning position during the final seconds of the match.

Wrestler bites opponent at Olympics (IOC)IOC

Desperate to avoid being pinned down by Kumar, Sanayev hung on to his opponent using the only part of his body he could, by clamping down on his opponent’s arm with his teeth for several seconds.

The dirty tactic came as a surprise to viewers watching the match on TV, but unfortunately for the Kazakh wrestler, his opponent was completely unfazed and managed to complete the move to achieve a victory by fall, guaranteeing a medal for India.


After being awarded the victory, Kumar immediately got up to show the referee the nasty-looking bite mark, pictures of which quickly began making the rounds on social media as Kumar’s compatriots expressed their outrage at the move. ‘How unfair is this,’ one person wrote, while another added ‘hats off to Ravi Kumar for bearing the pain’.

Biting is among the tactics banned in freestyle wrestling, with the rules stating that ‘wrestlers are forbidden to pull the hair, ears, genitals, pinch the skin, bite, twist fingers or toes of their opponents.’ Despite this, no action will reportedly be taken by Sanayev, with the United World Wresting (UWW) body ruling that the Kazakh wrestler had only chomped on his opponent’s arm ‘unintentionally’.

‘It was concluded that the action taken was an unintentional reaction,’ the UWW said in a statement. ‘Based on the discussion and review of the incident no disciplinary action will be taken based on the conclusion of the incident.’


Kumar ended up coming away with the silver medal in the final, but it looks like he’ll also have a gnarly scar to show off with it.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: Sport, India, Kazakhstan, Now, Olympics, Tokyo Olympics, Wrestling