The rivalry between Iran’s Hassan “The Greatest” Yazdani and USA’s David Taylor might not be as famous as many other rivalries but it still has enough punch to give run for their money. They are amongst the top wrestlers in 86kg Men’s Freestyle division and have set their eyes on the Tokyo Games. While the Iranian wrestler has already tasted the Olympic glory after winning gold in 74kg in Rio, Taylor is yet to make his debut at the Games.
The duo has met on two occasions — 2017 World Cup, Kermanshah and 2018 World Championship, Budapest — and both times it was the US wrestler who emerged victoriously.
In conversation with United World Wrestling (UWW), Yazdani talks about his rivalry with the US wrestler and what he has learnt from the two matches with him.
Here is an excerpt:
UWW: David Taylor is your biggest rival and everyone needs such a rival to make them better and most people want to make it about trash talks. But you and David have so much respect for each other. When Hassan was hurt David Taylor reached out and asked I hope you feel better. And the same was true when David got hurt. Where does all this respect come from?
Hassan: For athletes, respect comes from seeing each other’s character and their culture. I always think of respecting all my opponents and I always wish best in health and personal success. I wish they are in good health show that we can put great show for our fans. Wrestling is a way for us to show our character. And that is what sport is for me and my countrymen.
UWW: What have you learnt from your matches with David Taylor that you are using for Tokyo?
Hassan: I focussed on my mistakes in the past two matches – from technical to mental weaknesses. I enter each competition with a new plan, with more motivation to show what I have been working on.