Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Venue(s): Exhibition Hall I, Helsinki
Date Started: July 24, 1952
Date Finished: July 27, 1952
Format: Win by fall = 0 points; win by decision = 1 point; loss of any type = 3 points. Three judges gave decisions, thus all decisions were either 2-1 or 3-0. Five bad points eliminated a wrestler. When only three wrestlers remained, if they had not yet met one another, they wrestled further rounds. Medal placements were determined by the match record among the medalists, with bad points as a tie breaker. A wrestler in the medal rounds could continue with 5 or more bad points.
Johannes Kotkas was European Champion in 1938 and 1939, representing his native Estonia, and won the title again in 1947 for the Soviet Union. He would have been favored in 1948 at London but the Soviet Union did not enter the Olympics. Kotkas was also a top hammer thrower and had won the Soviet title in that event in 1943, was on the hammer podium at the Soviet nationals in 1945-47, and also won a bronze medal in shot put at the 1943 Soviet Nationals. In 1951 Kotkas had also won a silver medal in sambo at the Nationals in that judo-style type of wrestling, practiced almost exclusively in the former Soviet Union and its republics. He came into Helsinki as an overwhelming favorite in the heavyweight division, especially when Sweden’s Bertil Antonsson, the 1950 heavyweight Greco-Roman World Champion, elected to compete only in freestyle in 1952, in which he was the defending champion.
Kotkas won the Helsinki gold medal in dominant fashion. He had two byes, but won all four of his matches by falls, throwing Czechoslovak Josef Růžička in 4:32 in the final match to win gold. Kotkas returned to the 1953 World Championship, and met Antonsson in the final match, with Antonsson defeating him for the gold medal at that event.
|1||Johannes Kotkas||37||Soviet Union||URS||Gold||2-0|
|AC||Guido Fantoni||33||Italy||ITA||Eliminated r3/6||7|
|AC||József Kovács||Hungary||HUN||Eliminated r2/6||5|
|AC||Adolfo Ramírez||30||Argentina||ARG||Eliminated r2/6||6|