The Indian wrestler turned the final around in the last 30 seconds to clinch the gold medal. Vishal Kaliramana, meanwhile, bagged a bronze in the 70kg.
India’s ace wrestler Bajrang Punia successfully defended his 65kg title at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome on Sunday in his first international outing in a year.
The Indian wrestler had taken part in an invitational meet in the USA in December and then faced Zain Retherford in an exhibition match a few days later. Bajrang’s previous international tournament, however, was at the Asian championships in Delhi last year.
In Rome, Bajrang Punia beat Turkey’s Selim Kozan 7-0 in the quarter-final and American Joseph McKenna 6-3 in the semis.
In the final against Mongolia’s Tulga Tumur Ochir, Bajang was 2-0 down and only turned the game around in the final 30 seconds. The Indian wrestler executed a go-behind takedown to draw level at 2-2 to win on criteria for his second straight Matteo Pellicone gold medal.
The two finalists had last met at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in the bronze medal match, which Bajrang Punia won 8-6.
It would have been an all-India 65kg final had Rohit Kumar not lost 4-0 to Tulga Tumur Ochir in the semis. Rohit also went on to lose his bronze medal match 12-10 to Turkey’s Hamza Alaca.
In the quarters, Rohit Kumar had registered an impressive 9-8 win over two-time Asian champion and world championship bronze medallist Behnam Ehsanpour of Iran.