Five-Ring Circus

The Wrestling Controversy That Led a Mongolian Coach to Remove His Pants

Mongolia’s coaches protest the judges’ decision after the men’s freestyle 65-kilogram bronze match at the Olympics on Aug. 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

If you somehow missed the bronze-medal men’s freestyle 65-kilogram wrestling match on Sunday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro, then, brother, you missed something really special. The match itself was fine. The aftermath, however, was one of the most memorable and bizarre spectacles of the 2016 Summer Olympics. It involved an early celebration, a penalty point, and two angry coaches stripping half-naked in protest, narrated all the while by two befuddled announcers who couldn’t believe their eyes. I can’t emphasize enough that you need to watch this for yourself. The timestamps below correspond to the timecodes on the livestream, which you can find here.

1:32:39: With 18 seconds remaining in the bout, the judges award Mandakhnaran Ganzorig of Mongolia a seemingly decisive point, putting him up 7-6 over Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov. A bronze medal is in sight for the Mongolian. This is a big deal—Mongolia has won just two medals in Rio.

1:32:48: Navruzov’s coach runs on to the mat to protest the decision to give Ganzorig a point. “Ooh, very very unhappy there, and that’s going to not work out well at all for Navruzov’s coach, who’s been given a caution there and told to make his way off the mat and back to the coaching area,” the announcer says. “Clearly, emotions running very high in the concluding seconds of this bronze-medal final here.” And how!

1:33:28: With six seconds left in the six-minute match, Ganzorig darts away from Navruzov. As the final seconds tick away, the Mongolian wrestler raises and shakes both fists in triumph. As Ganzorig evades and celebrates, Navruzov looks disgusted, raising his own arms in an incredulous gesture. The match ends. Ganzorig’s coaches embrace their man in exultant celebration.

1:33:53: Hold on! The referee has awarded Navruzov a penalty point. The score is now 7-7. Do they now go into sudden death? Are there penalty kicks? No! The Uzbek wrestler wins because he scored the last point in the match. Navruzov wins the bronze!

1:34:11: Navruzov emits a victorious scream. Why did he get the penalty point? “And that may be because Ganzorig Mandakhnaran was not engaging at the end, and refusing … was not actually making contact and was fleeing the hold,” the announcer speculates.

1:35:03: Ganzorig’s coaches take to the mat to lodge a protest. Ganzorig kneels on the ground and buries his face in his hands.

1:35:33: Off screen, someone—presumably one of Ganzorig’s coaches—starts screaming “Why him? Why him? Why? Why him? Why? Why? Why?”

1:35:54: With a mighty “No!” one of Ganzorig’s coaches angrily removes his shirt and warmup jacket and flings them to the mat, to the great delight of the crowd. “And we have … an extremely dramatic scene here,” says the announcer.

1:35:58: That coach, Byambarenchin Bayoraa, removes and throws his shoes. Another coach, Tsenrenbataar Tsostbayar, tries to restrain him.

1:36:25 : The second coach, Tsostbayar, changes his mind and starts to remove his own shirt and jacket. Soon, both coaches are half-naked. The crowd goes wild. Tsostbayar is much less fit than Bayoraa. “This is wrong,” says the announcer. “We will not see these men again in international wrestling. There is no doubt about that.”

1:36:50: Tsostbayar has now stripped all the way down to his tight black underwear. He pats his stomach and dumps his discarded clothes in a pile on the judges’ table. If he gets blackballed from wrestling, he can surely find a position on minor-league baseball manager Phillip Wellman’s coaching staff.

1:37:14: Tsostbayar drops to his knees. “Get. Off. This is now absolutely ridiculous,” says the announcer. “Leave immediately.” These announcers are such narcs.

1:37:33: The referee’s attempt to hold Navruzov’s hand up in victory is interrupted by Bayoraa, who has shown great discretion by not removing his pants. He is holding a single shoe. “The sport is bigger than this. This is the Olympic Games, gentlemen,” says the disgusted announcer. The crowd chants “Mongolia!” The crowd has the right idea here.

1:37:51: Ganzorig comes to the middle of the mat to briefly embrace Navruzov. “That’s better. That’s good,” says the announcer.

1:38: The détente is short-lived, as Ganzorig refuses to leave the mat. He drops to his knees and stares up at the sky. In the background, a man in a dark suit remonstrates with Tsostbayar, who is still in his tight black underwear.

1:38:21: The judges award Navruzov another penalty point, bringing the final score of the match to 8-7 in the Uzbek wrestler’s favor. Ganzorig, still on his knees, still on the mat, defiantly shakes his head.

1:38:44: Ganzorig leaves the mat. The official raises Navruzov’s hand in victory. Navruzov emits a hearty scream.

1:38:58: Now Ganzorig too removes his top, meaning the entire Mongolian contingent is half-naked. He is also crying. This is really the worst possible way to lose an Olympic medal. Watching at home, Lindsey Jacobellis says she’s never seen anything so sad (probably).

“So there is now confirmation of the bronze medalist, after extraordinary scenes here in Carioca Arena 2,” says the announcer. “Scenes very much out of character with the rest of the wrestling competition here at Rio 2016. Scenes that have not at all fitted in with the way the program has conducted itself.”

Oh, hush.

1:39:30: Navruzov’s coach slings the wrestler over his shoulder and takes him for a victory lap. Both men are fully clothed.

1:39:40: In the background, Bayoraa throws his shoe at the celebrating Uzbeks. He misses. He drops to the mat in exhaustion.

1:39:53: Tsostbayar has put on his pants.

See more of Slate’s Olympics coverage.