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Engin Terzi: Rustam Babayev is legendary

trening

First time i saw him was 1999 Europeans in Hungary. He was a tiny boy then but following year in 2000 Europeans in İstanbul he was much stronger as he won the junior competetion easily with the right arm and took second place in senior 65kg division.

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As far as i remember he lost against Valery Goussov from Russia but stil he did great in senior class for someone who was only 18 years old. Same year i did not see team him in 2000 WAF worlds in Virginia Beach USA.

 In 2001 Zloty i heard that he gave very tough match to Gashevski who was the best light weight in those years. In WAF 2001 Babayev pulled 70kg class and took 3. with right arm and 4. with left arm. That was the last time that Babayev losing a competetion with both hands.

 Following year he won Europeans with both hands against the pullers such as Grigoriev, Pisarkov and a junior Zoloev. Then he won his first senior world titles in Egypt 2002 WAF over top guys such as Zoloev.

 2003 was the year that Rustam moved up to 78kg class and took 3. after Tsakhilov and Hubulov from Russia. Next day it was one of his toughest days in his career when he had HOOK WARS against Tsakhilov from Russia. Tsakhilov in fact pinned him at the end but lost on elbow fouls.

 Team Ukraine did not participate WAF 2003 and i saw Rustam in 2004 EAC in Poland where he won double golds in 80kg class. There he did not have problems against anyone except 18 years old Khadaev from Russia who stopped Rustam for a near 20 seconds with right arm. After the Europeans Rustam and Gashevski pulled a super match and Rustam won 5-0 without a serious competetion. Same year in WAF South Africa Rustam again won double golds in 80kg class. Then Gashevski and Rustam met once again in 78kg league event where Gashevski beat Rustam with right after very tough match.

 2005 EAC was not so hard for Rustam for neither hand but he had some trouble against Pascal Girard in 2005 WAF. Rustam said he was injured before the event but stil Pascal was the only one who stopped with right arm in that event. Same year Rustam beat Todd Hutchings in Zloty Tur event.

 2006 EAC Rustam had easy day with his right arm while Umar Shakmanov from Ossetia beat Rustam with left arm but Umar tested positive for doping use and Rustam won the gold there. In same event Alexander Bulenkov also beat Rustam with left arm but refs called Bulenkov elbow fouls.

 Same year Rustam and Bulenkov pulled a left hand supermatch and Bulenkov won 4-2 after tough hook matches.

 2007, 2008 & 2009 were easy years for Rustam both in EAC and Worlds.

 In 2010 Eugeny Prudnyk from Ukraine gave Rustam near a minute long match in Moscow Europeans. We all thought it was just a show because both athletes are from Ukraine. But some years later we realised that it was not a show as Prudnyk was becoming dangerous.

 As far as i remember 2010, 2011 and 2012 were not so hard years for Rustam either (except the Zloty event in 2011 where Zoloev beat him in the overalls) till he met Prudnyk in 2013 EAC event. It was one of the best matches that i have ever seeing. Hook, toproll, explosiveness, endurance everything at it’s best.. Prudnyk ended up as the winner to end Rustam’s right hand dominance since 2002 in EAC & WAF events. Same event Rustam tested positive and had to leave the sport for a couple of years.

 We all thought he was going to quit pulling as he was mentioning such things but early this year he beat the current (of that time) 90kg WAF Champion Ermes Gasparini quite easily. These two athletes again met last month at the Zloty event. Rustam wanted to slip to go to strap but Gasparini was so much focused on not letting him to slip and caused Rustam to foul while slipping. Then Rustam just pinned Gasparini in re start but he was not able to keep his elbow on the pad. In the final match the same thing happenned and Rustam lost on elbow fouls for not being able to hook Gasparini within the rules.

 Rustam with his most number of World and European titles for sure one of the best ever Light – Light heavyweights pullers ever if not the very best. His amazing hand &wrist strength followed by inners side pressure was just too much for almost anyone in his weight class. He also had outside abilities as he has wins against guy such as Krasimir, Golemanov and many others with toproll. His entrance the match was better than anyone even in the matches that he lost against Zoloev and Prudnyk. He was dominating right from the start to the pin pad in most of his matches. He had wins even in the matches that he was stopped by his opponent but it was not the case against Zoloev and Prudnyk matches that he lost. He kind of experienced that same type of defeat against Krasimir in this year’s Zloty event as well.

 Only guy that i may compare Rustam in around those weight classes is Zoloev Hadzimurat but Rustam being the best with both hands make him a step above Zoloev in my eyes.

 No doubt that Rustam is a Legend of our sport and the most succesful WAF puller ever. I am very happy for him to return to armwrestling as he is a living Legend of our sport and too young to quit yet. I have no doubt that he will continue pulling succesfully as long as he will be dedicated. I wish him the best in rest of his career & life.

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