Olympic wrestler Frank Chamizo rejected $300,000 bribe to throw qualifier match he lost anyway

Frank Chamizo is a two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medals. He recently made a surprising revelation about turning down a $300,000 bribe to intentionally lose a match during the recent European wrestling Olympic qualification tournament held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

After leaving Cuba in 2011, Chamizo now represents Italy in freestyle wrestling. But a controversial late call cost him the semifinal bout against Turan Bayramov, an Azerbaijani freestyle wrestler.

Speaking to the Italian daily La Repubblica, Chamizo said: “I knew that I had to give double, triple in Azerbaijan because I was fighting in their country and they had bought everyone. I did it, but then something happened that has echoes of wrestling many years ago.”

“So I want to say it: They came to me and offered me $300,000 to lose. I don’t want to say who, but it happened on the morning of the weigh-in.”

Chamizo said that he declined because “I don’t only represent myself, but also Italy. … It’s not easy to break my integrity.”

He had also shared a video of the controversial ending on social media before using that last line in an Instagram post.

Chamizo wrote in the post: “I want to apologize to those who are looking at this, my sport is beautiful. This is just a group of bribed and corrupt people. How sad. My heart is crying.”

When the semifinal came to a close 8–8, Chamizo earned the final two points needed to win the match and earn a spot in this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. Although the judges had given him the points, Bayramov’s coach’s challenge was accepted.

Chamizo told La Republica: “I’m still shocked. Sad, in pain, full of shame for what happened. The five judges made the same decision, recognizing that I put my opponent’s right knee on the ground, so I won.”

Born and raised in Cuba, Chamizo represented his nation with a bronze in the 2010 World Championships before relocating to Italy the following year. He took home gold in the world championships held in 2015 and 2017, silver in the next two years, and bronze in the 2016 Olympics.

The 31-year-old Chamizo will have one more opportunity to make it to the Paris Games in Turkey next month at the global qualifying competition.

Chamizo stated: “Am I worried about paying for these comments there? I come from Cuba. I’m not scared of anything. Now I am in a free country. I can say what I think and what I want. No one will stop me.”