Japan legend Hanahara passes away at 84

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (February 9) -- United World Wrestling and the Japanese Wrestling Federation, with heavy hearts, announce the passing of Mr. Tsutomu HANAHARA, a revered Olympic champion who etched his name in history through his extraordinary feats in the realm of Greco-Roman wrestling.

Mr. Hanahara, at the age of 84, passed away February 5th, 2024, at approximately 23:00, succumbing to illness.

Mr. Hanahara's crowning achievement came at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, where he captured the hearts of a nation by defeating Angel KERESOV (BUL), clinching the 52kg Greco-Roman gold medal.

Following his career on the mat, Mr. Hanahara continued to shape the landscape of Greco-Roman wrestling in Japan, assuming the role as Chairman of the Strengthening Committee of the Japanese Wrestling Federation. His leadership was instrumental in propelling the Japanese wrestling team to new heights, notably steering them at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

As a coach, Mr. Hanahara led his alma mater, Nippon Sports Science University, to 18 consecutive East Japan Student League Championships, spanning from 1979 to 1996.

Mr. Hanahara's passion for wrestling carried over to his son and grandson. His son, Daisuke HANAHARA (JPN), finished in 11th place at the 1992 Olympic Games, where he competed in the 57kg Greco-Roman bracket. Furthermore, his grandson, Hiroto HANAHARA (JPN), clinched a 57kg freestyle bronze medal at the 2023 U15 Asian Championships.

UWW and the Japan Wrestling Federation mourn the passing Mr. Hanahara and express our deepest sympathies to the Hanahara family.


Olympian and longtime referee Eberhard Probst passes away

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (February 22) -- Two-time world bronze medalist and Olympian Eberhard PROBST from Germany passed away at the age of 69 years.

Probst was born on June 4, 1955, in Querfurt, where he grew up and began wrestling in 1966 at his club the BSG Merseburg. He attended the Children's and Youth Sports School in Halle an der Saale. From 1970 to 1985, Probst collected 17 East German championship titles for the Chemie Halle Sports Club, making him one of the most successful national freestyle wrestling champions all over Germany. 

At the international level, Probst won World Championships bronze medals in 1979 and 1982 while finishing fifth at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He also placed eighth at the 1976 Montreal Games. He also won bronze medals at the European Championships in 1976, 1979 and 1981.

After his active career, Probst began a career as a referee in 1984 and, due to his reserved, factual-calm, and expert manner, also internationally developed into one of the best referees in the world from 1986 onwards.

Probst was nominated for his first Olympic Games as a referee in 2004, the third overall, in Athens. As the only German mat official, he represented Germany at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. At the World Championships in Herning, Denmark, in 2009, he received the Golden Whistle, the highest award for referees by UWW.