Geno Petriashvili – Georgian Giant

Table of Contents

Freestyle heavyweight wrestling is full of power and strength and a lot of times it is a case of the stronger wrestler dominating a weaker wrestler. Once in a while there is a Heavyweight wrestler who not only is strong as a bear but highly technical as well. 

Geno Petriashvili is an elite level Freestyle wrestler competing at the heavyweight division who is strong, technical, resilient, fast and agile. He has always given his best in competition and is a nightmare for opponents with his highly technical freestyle wrestling skills and heart of a lion.

Who is Geno Petriashvili

Born in the South Ossetian village of Nuli, Georgia on April 1st, 1994 and then raised in Gori, Georgia. Geno Petriashvili was raised in one of the best wrestling beds in the world, Gori had world class wrestling and Judo, having produced Olympic Champions and many dominant wrestling champions.

Geno began wrestling between the ages of 6-7, he went to his local wrestling club and noticed how impressive the athletes looked physically and wanted to be just like them. Unlike many Georgian wrestlers, Geno did not come from an athletic family but his family (like many Georgians) loved the sport of wrestling. Joining the wrestling club was an easy decision for Geno as there was no need to persuade the family to allow Geno to take wrestling seriously as they were fully behind him in his athletic pursuit to become a good wrestler.

Geno Petriashvili Gets Kidnapped and Held Hostage

During the early 2000’s, the Caucuses were a very violent and unstable region with many wars and much economic strife affecting the region. Geno was a young boy of 11 years when he was a victim of kidnapping.

Geno was on his way with his friends to play at the local river in Nuli when a car pulled by and kidnapped young Petriashvili. The local villagers pursued the kidnappers but they lost contact when the kidnappers passed through the Russian border while the villagers were prevented from passing through the checkpoint by Russian peacekeepers. During this period there were many hostilities in Southern Ossetia with problems arising between ethnic tribes and religious groups as well as local criminal activity taking advantage of the lack of stability in the region. Kidnapping was common in Georgia since Soviet times and sadly Geno was a victim of such actions.

Having to deal with horrible living conditions, Geno was held in a pit with his hand chained to the wall. Geno never was beaten except for one instance when one of the kidnappers said that all Gerogians are Christian pigs in which a young brave Petriashvili answered back to the man in a rude and just manner in which the kidnapper hit the 11 year old hostage.

Geno would have to go through living in these conditions for 3 months prior to being rescued by Georgian authorities and granted freedom. A truly life changing ordeal that certainly molded the iron strong character that we see in Geno Petriashvili today.

Geno Petriashvili’s Wrestling Career

A true talent on the wrestling mat and an absolute example of a gentleman off the mat, Petriashvili has been no stranger to success in competition in an era where Freestyle heavyweight wrestling is becoming faster and more technical. 

Having being coached by world class coaches Nugzar Skhireli and Revaz Kobakhidze and training at the world class wrestling clubs Dynamo Tbilisi, Easy Pipe Kashan (2017) and Atrak Bojnord (2019), Geno has had the opportunity to have world class Georgian wrestling training to build his wrestling career upon.

Standing an impressive 6 foot 6 inches (198cm), Geno Petriashvili has competed at 100kg, 120kg and 125kg and has won a Silver Medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a Bronze Medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, 3 Gold medals at the World Freestyle Wrestling Championships, and 2 Gold medals at the European Freestyle Wrestling Championships as well as many Silver and Bronze medals in major international wrestling tournaments. 

Geno has faced some of the toughest competition in Freestyle Heavyweight wrestling history such as Taha Akgul, Gable Stevenson, Amir Hossein Zare and Khadzhimurat Gatsalov. Each match regardless of win or lose always had Geno giving his all thus creating highly entertaining wrestling matches.

One of the best wrestling rivalries to be seen in the heavyweight division was Geno Petriashvili and the great Turkish wrestler Taha Akgul. The talk of the wrestling world prior to each major international Freestyle wrestling competition was always who would win if Taha Akgul faced Geno Petriashvili and they met many times producing fireworks each time they met.

Taha Akgul said that in regards to Petriashvili “It doesn’t matter in which round we meet at the tournament, our matches are always close. He is definitely my toughest opponent”. The first time the 2 wrestlers met was at the 2011 Yashar Dogu Memorial Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey, Akgul immediately noticed that Geno was a cut above the rest of the competition and that he had a very similar wrestling style as well as physical attributes. Geno also has mentioned that Taha Akgul is an extremely strong wrestler, technically, physically, tactically and a very complete wrestler.

In 2014 Geno received a 6 month suspension due to a banned substance called Preductal that was found in trace amounts in his blood test while at the Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia. Preductal does not affect athletic performance and Geno had been using this daily since he was a child to deal with the effects of being kidnapped and held hostage for an extended period of time during his youth. One of the reasons there was an issue was the fact that the Georgian National Wrestling team’s doctor did not come with the team and there was no medical professional to explain medically why Petriashvili was taking Preductal at the time and fill out the appropriate medical forms in regards to Petriashvili’s taking of the drug.

Petriashvili’s Wrestling Style

A very tall, fast and strong wrestler with world class technical skills, Geno can work from any position, he has amazing hand fighting skills, can change levels quickly and scramble as if he was in a lighter division. Geno knows how to attack at the right time and once he attacks he places 100% wrestling pressure into play, often chain wrestling from one position to another.

Geno’s defense is one of his best assets, often able to shut down the world’s best wrestlers with ease. Geno is an incredibly intelligent wrestler and a true student of the game, he is a huge advocate of studying each opponent in order to understand their favourite techniques, strengths and weaknesses in order to capitalize on them.

Geno Petriashvili’s Mental Strength

A very positive guy and full of positive energy Geno’s positive mentality has helped mold his athletic career, he has accepted the challenges of training multiple times daily as a wrestler and always is focused on his next challenge. He never makes excuses and always faces the tough truths when they are in front of him.

A true mindset of a champion, Geno emphasizes to live in the now and not think too much about results and competition as well as focus on not being nervous. He has a “go fight and gi win” attitude that he brings onto the mat for each match. Geno is a big believer in humility and to take each opponent seriously, one by one, not letting one’s mind create anxiety prior to a match and concentrating on focusing on the task at hand.

In Conclusion

A proud Georgian, Geno loves his native Georgia, he loves his friends and family as well as he loves honesty. Geno is known as a guy who is talented, makes everyone smile and has a great sense of humour that can make anyone’s bad day turn into a good one.

Geno Petriashvili truly is a Georgian Giant, both on the mats and off the mats. He will always be remembered as one of the best and most complete wrestlers in Freestyle Wrestling and a true example of someone overcoming great challenges in their past and becoming the best they can be.

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