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Wrestling at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games:

Men's Heavyweight, Greco-Roman

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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.

Gold: URS Johannes Kotkas
Silver: TCH Josef Růžička
Bronze: FIN Tauno Kovanen


[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.

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Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal MMR/RE BP
1 Johannes Kotkas 37 Soviet Union URS Gold 2-0
2 Josef Růžička 27 Czechoslovakia TCH Silver 1-1
3 Tauno Kovanen 35 Finland FIN Bronze 0-2
4 Willi Waltner 18 Germany GER
5 Alexandru Șuli 23 Romania ROU
6T Antonios Georgoulis 24 Greece GRE
6T Bengt Fahlkvist 30 Sweden SWE
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