Khadzhimurat Gatsalov: The Journey of a Wrestling Legend

Khadzhimurat Soltanovich Gatsalov, born on December 11, 1982, in North Ossetia–Alania, Russia, is a renowned figure in the world of wrestling. Known for his exceptional skills and achievements, Gatsalov has left an indelible mark on the sport.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Gatsalov’s journey into wrestling began in his home country of Russia. He started his senior level competitive career at 84 kg in 2002 before moving up to 96 kg and 120 kg. His talent and dedication quickly propelled him to the forefront of the sport.

Career Achievements

Gatsalov’s list of accomplishments is extensive. He won the gold medal in the freestyle 96 kg class in the 2004 Summer Olympics, defeating future UFC Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier in the semi-finals. This victory marked the beginning of a successful career that would see Gatsalov win five world medals in the 96 kg class at the FILA Wrestling World Championships.

In 2013, Gatsalov moved up to the 120 kg class and continued his winning streak, securing a gold medal at the FILA Wrestling World Championships. His victories at major championships include the 2005, 2006, and 2007 World Championships, and the 2004, 2005, and 2006 European Championships.

Transition to MMA and Coaching

Gatsalov’s wrestling prowess also led him to explore the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). In 2014, he became Cormier’s training partner ahead of Cormier’s fight against Jon Jones at UFC 182. Gatsalov started training for his MMA debut two years prior when he went to the US to help Cormier prepare for his fight against Jones.

In November 2022, Gatsalov was appointed as the head coach of the Russian National Freestyle team, marking a new chapter in his career. His experience and knowledge of the sport make him an invaluable asset to the team.

Personal Life

Outside of his professional career, Gatsalov is known for his strong ties to his home country. Despite his international success, he has always maintained a close connection to his roots in Russia. He represents Armenia as of February 2020.


Khadzhimurat Gatsalov’s journey from a young wrestler in Russia to an international champion and coach is a testament to his dedication, skill, and passion for the sport. His achievements have not only earned him a place among the greats in wrestling but have also inspired a new generation of athletes. His story is a powerful reminder that with hard work and determination, it is possible to reach the pinnacle of success in any field.

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