Georgian wrestling foundation president hits two-time European champion over head with metal object, refuses to resign
The Georgian National Wrestling Championship has turned scandalous – the president of the Wrestling Federation, Gega Gegeshidze, hit two-time European champion Zurab Datunashvili on the head with a metal object in front of hundreds of fans.
Datunashvili demands the resignation of Gegeshidze. Gegeshidze, in turn, declares that he is not going to agree to the demands of an “athlete who is disappointed with his own performance”.
The wrestling championship of Georgia kicked off in the Tbilisi Sports Palace on 10 January. In addition to young athletes, experienced world- and continental champions participated.
One of the most intense fights took place on 11 January. Two titled athletes came out to the ring: two-time European champion (2016, 2017) Zurab Datunashvili and current European champion Robert Kobliashvili.
Much depended on this fight – the winner received a ticket to the contending championship and at the same time the opportunity to compete for a ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
A few seconds before the end of the match, Zurab Datunashvili made a complaint to one of the referees, accusing him of being unfair.
He accused the referee in an offensive manner. The athlete’s brother and coaches immediately intervened in the conflict. The verbal skirmish seemed to come to an end, but soon moved from the wrestling mat to the western stand of the Palace of Sports. A massive brawl broke out there, in which it was impossible to discern who was beating whom.
Footage obtained by TV channel Rustavi-2 clearly showed that the president of the federation was also actively involved in the fight. He did not separate the fighters, but behaved, on the contrary, rather aggressively. The footage clearly shows how Gega Gegeshidze hit Datunashvili on the head with a metal object.
After that, Datunashvili appears in the video footage with blood on his face. Some say that Gegeshidze hit the wrestler with a metal chain, while others say he hit him with a baton.
On his Facebook page, Zurab Datunashvili accused the president of the wrestling federation of causing him physical injury. There, the athlete talks about the unhealthy atmosphere that prevails on the national wrestling team and of corruption.
Law enforcement authorities have opened an investigation into the affair, and have already interrogated journalists, medical staff and some members of the audience. However, the main actors have not yet been questioned.
Athletes do not want to cooperate with the investigation, among them Datunashvili. He says he demands the resignation of the President of the Wrestling Federation, but not for him to be criminally punished.
Datunashvili says that Gegeshidze’s act was cowardly, but not necessarily criminal. Gegeshidze has not appeared for questioning, stating that his lawyer was ill.
The opposition and non-governmental organizations have joined in on the story. They demand Gegeshidze be punished, and held several rallies to this end.
Gega Gegeshidze himself is not going to resign. Despite the video, he denies his involvement in the incident and the fact that he hit Zurab Datunashvili on the head with a metal object.
This is not the first scandal in which the president of the Wrestling Federation was implicated.
His name is associated with a conflict which took place on 22 May near Kortskheli village in Samegrelo during the mid-term parliamentary elections. On voting day, several athletes arrived in Kortskheli from Tbilisi and ‘dealt’ with representatives of the opposition.
Members of the United National Movement then claimed that Gegeshidze was behind their appearance – the incident in Kortskheli was attended by his brother Vladimir Gegeshidze.
The opposition is convinced that Gega Gegeshidze, who previously headed the personal guards of the former Interior Minister Alexander Chikaidze, is himself involved in carrying out the ‘dark deeds’ of the authorities, and therefore the authorities are not in a hurry to dismiss him.