Welcome to the world of Finnish wrestling! Finland is known for having some of the best wrestling players in the world, with many of them ranking highly in international competitions.
From the Greco-Roman style to the Freestyle and even Combat styles, Finland has produced some great champions. We will take a look at some of the best wrestlers Finland has ever produced.
We will look at their achievements, backgrounds, and notable moments in their careers. So, let’s get started and find out who the best Finnish wrestlers are!.
1. Juha Lappalainen
Juha Lappalainen is a Finnish wrestler who made a name for himself at the 2000 Summer Olympics. He competed in the men’s Greco-Roman 69 kg weight category, where athletes must use only their upper bodies to combat their opponents.
Lappalainen’s entrance into the Olympics was a big deal for Finland, as the country is not well-known for its wrestling prowess. It was a huge accomplishment for Juha, as he was able to go up against some of the best wrestlers in the world in his weight category.
His performance in the Olympics was highly praised and he received great recognition for his talents. Apart from the Olympics, Juha Lappalainen has made a name for himself in the wrestling world. He has competed in numerous tournaments and won several medals over the years.
He has also trained and mentored many aspiring wrestlers, helping them to reach their full potential. Even today, he continues to be an inspiration to many, showing that it is possible to achieve great things through hard work and determination.
2. Onni Pellinen
Onni Pellinen was a Finnish wrestler who achieved great success in Greco-Roman wrestling. He was an Olympic medalist, having won a silver medal in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
He also won multiple national championships in Finland and represented his country in international competitions. Pellinen was born in Finland in 1912 and started wrestling in 1930.
He became a member of the Finnish wrestling team and went on to become one of the most successful wrestlers in the sport. He was a two-time European Champion, winning in 1934 and 1936, and won the World Championships in 1936.
The pinnacle of his career was winning the silver medal at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling in the lightweight category. He had a successful career, becoming one of the most successful wrestlers of the era.
After his retirement from the sport in 1946, he served as a wrestling coach in Finland for several years. Pellinen was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2001 in recognition of his achievements in the sport.
He is still remembered today in Finland as a respected wrestler and Olympic medalist. He is a true inspiration for aspiring wrestlers in Finland and abroad.
3. Yrjö Saarela
Yrjö Erik Mikael Saarela was an incredibly talented Finnish wrestler. He was born in the small town of Lohja in Finland in the year 1903. He began wrestling at a young age and quickly developed into a formidable wrestler.
He competed in the Olympics in 1924 and won the gold medal in the featherweight category. This was an incredible achievement for someone so young. In addition to his Olympic success, Saarela went on to win the world championship in 1928.
This was a huge accomplishment as it put him in the elite company of athletes who had managed to win both the Olympic gold and the world championship. Saarela was also the first Finn to achieve this feat.
Throughout his career, Saarela continued to excel in the sport of wrestling. He earned many accolades, including several Finnish championships. He also trained and inspired other athletes to become successful wrestlers.
His legacy lives on in the many wrestlers who have been inspired by his success.
4. Emil Väre
Emil Ernst Väre was an accomplished Finnish wrestler. He was highly successful in his career, as he won two gold medals at the Summer Olympics in both 1912 and 1920 in the lightweight class.
Väre was also a World champion in 1911, as well as an unofficial European champion in 1912. He was also a successful national champion, winning titles in 1909 and 1911. His run of success continued into the period between 1912 and 1916, where Väre won all of his wrestling bouts.
His success was a testament to his hard work and dedication, and he was an inspiration to many young wrestlers.
5. Kaarlo Koskelo
Kaarlo Anton “Kalle” Koskelo was an accomplished athlete from Finland. He was a Greco-Roman wrestler and achieved success at the 1912 Olympics, winning the featherweight event. After the Olympics, he fought in both World War I and the Finnish Civil War.
In 1919, he made the move to the United States and settled in Astoria, Oregon. Upon his arrival, Koskelo quickly became a prominent member of the local business community. He was respected for his athletic accomplishments and successful entrepreneurial endeavors.
He had a lasting impact on the Astoria community and is remembered as an inspiring figure.
6. Verner Weckman
Johan Verner Weckman was a Finnish wrestler and an Olympic gold medalist. He was the first Finnish athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and is thus a highly-regarded figure in Finnish sporting history.
Born in 1883, Weckman began his wrestling career at an early age and competed in several local and national competitions. In 1906, he won the Finnish national wrestling championship and was selected as part of the Finnish team to compete in the 1908 Olympics in London.
At the Olympics, Weckman won the gold medal in his weight class, becoming the first Finn to ever achieve this feat. His accomplishment was a source of great pride for the Finnish nation, and his victory was celebrated widely.
He continued to compete and win in wrestling competitions for the rest of his life, and was even inducted into the Finnish Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.
Weckman’s legacy as the first Finnish Olympic gold medalist lives on, and he will always be remembered as a national sporting hero.
7. Kustaa Pihlajamäki
Kustaa Kustaanpoika Pihlajamäki was a Finnish wrestler who achieved great success in his sport.
He competed in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling in numerous competitions throughout his career. Pihlajamäki represented his country in the Olympics in 1924, 1928, 1932 and 1936.
He was incredibly successful, winning two gold medals and one silver medal in total. In addition to his Olympic success, Pihlajamäki won an impressive nine European titles and a staggering 28 national titles in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling between 1930 and 1943.
His accomplishments in the sport are particularly impressive, given the fact that he achieved them during a period of time when the sport was still developing. Pihlajamäki’s success and achievements serve as an inspiration to all wrestlers, both past and present.
He is remembered as one of Finland’s most successful athletes, and his legacy lives on in the sport of wrestling.
8. Hermanni Pihlajamäki
Herman Matinpoika “Hermanni” Pihlajamäki was a Finnish wrestler who achieved great success in international competitions. He represented Finland at the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games, where he won a gold medal and a bronze medal respectively.
Additionally, he had an outstanding performance at the European Championships, winning a gold medal in freestyle wrestling in 1931 and two silver medals in 1935 in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
His impressive success is a testament to his unparalleled skill and dedication to the sport. Pihlajamäki is remembered as one of Finland’s most successful wrestlers and a symbol of the nation’s strength in the sport.
9. Kalle Anttila
Kaarlo Johan Jalmari Anttila, better known as “Kalle,” was an accomplished Finnish wrestler.
He achieved extraordinary success in his sport, earning two Olympic gold medals and two world titles. In 1920, Kalle won a gold medal in the freestyle lightweight category at the Summer Olympics in Antwerp.
Four years later, at the 1924 Paris Olympics, Kalle earned a second gold medal, this time in the Greco-Roman featherweight division. In between his two Olympic successes, Kalle was also victorious at the world championships, winning a Greco-Roman featherweight title in 1921 and 1922.
His dominance in the sport earned him the respect of his peers and fans around the world. Kalle’s success as a wrestler, highlighted by his two Olympic gold medals and two world titles, served as a source of great pride for the people of Finland.
He remains a legendary figure in the history of Finnish sport and an inspiration to athletes everywhere.
10. Eino Leino
Eino Aukusti Leino was a Finnish freestyle wrestler who had an impressive career. He participated in the Olympics four times, starting in 1920 and ending in 1932. Each time he was successful, winning a medal. His best achievement was a gold medal in 1920.
Before becoming a wrestler, Leino was involved in other sports. He was a diver and a goalkeeper in association football. This shows that his athleticism and dedication to the sport allowed him to be successful in many different disciplines.
Leino was a prime example of how hard work and determination can be rewarded.
11. Lauri Koskela
Lauri Koskela was a talented Greco-Roman wrestler from Finland. He was a world-class athlete, having competed in the Olympic Games on two separate occasions.
In 1932, Koskela won a bronze medal, and in 1936 he achieved the ultimate goal of any Olympic athlete, winning a gold medal. Koskela also achieved great success in the European championships.
He claimed the top spot on the podium in 1935, 1937, and 1938, and settled for third place in 1939.
On the domestic level, he was just as impressive, winning seven Finnish titles between 1932 and 1943. Overall, Lauri Koskela was a true trailblazer in the sport of Greco-Roman wrestling.
His success at the Olympic Games and the European championships, along with his numerous domestic titles, cemented his legacy as one of the best wrestlers to ever come out of Finland.
12. Pertti Ukkola
Pertti Ukkola is a Finnish wrestler and an Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling. He has achieved great success in his sport, having been awarded Finnish Sportspersonality of the Year in 1977.
He is an international wrestling champion, having won the gold medal for the Men’s Greco-Roman wrestling event at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada. Ukkola was born in 1955 and grew up in the city of Kuopio.
He started wrestling at a young age, and quickly developed into a successful athlete. He represented Finland in several international tournaments and won multiple national and international championships.
In 1976, he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Montreal, earning him the title of Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling. His success did not stop there.
In 1977, he was named Finnish Sports personality of the Year, a prestigious award that recognizes athletes who have made an outstanding contribution to Finnish sport. He was also given the title of Honorary Citizen of Kuopio in the same year.
Since then, many other awards and titles have been bestowed upon him, including the Order of the White Rose of Finland. Pertti Ukkola is an inspiration to many aspiring athletes in Finland, and his success has been a testament to the power of hard work and dedication.
His achievements in the sport of wrestling will continue to be remembered and celebrated for many years to come.
13. Väinö Penttala
Väinö Penttala was a highly accomplished Finnish wrestler who had the honor of winning a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. This was a historic accomplishment, as Penttala was the first Finn to win a medal in the sport.
In 1923, the first freestyle wrestling tournaments were held in Finland and Penttala was the champion of the event on four separate occasions.
His success in the sport was a source of great pride for his native country and an inspiration for future generations of Finnish wrestlers.
Penttala’s success also helped to popularize the sport of freestyle wrestling in Finland, and his legacy continues to be celebrated to this day.
14. Niilo Turkkila
Niilo Ensio Turkkila was a renowned Finnish wrestler. He competed in the 57 kg division and had an impressive track record. He won national titles in Greco-Roman wrestling in 1949–50, and in freestyle wrestling in 1950–51.
He was also the runner-up in freestyle wrestling at the 1951 World Championships.
He was a great athlete who achieved a lot in his career, and his accomplishments will be remembered for many years to come. Niilo was a talented wrestler from a young age and developed his skills further as he grew older.
He was a fierce competitor who always strived to do his best and was never satisfied with anything less than perfection. His hard work and dedication to the sport paid off, as he won multiple national titles in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.
His greatest achievement was placing second in freestyle wrestling at the 1951 World Championships. Niilo’s legacy lives on in the wrestling community. He is remembered as one of the greatest Finnish wrestlers of all time and is an inspiration to many young athletes.
His hard work, dedication, and determination set a great example for all aspiring wrestlers. Niilo Ensio Turkkila will always be remembered for his accomplishments and his impact on the sport of wrestling.
15. Alfred Asikainen
Alfred Johan “Alpo” Asikainen was a Finnish wrestler who made his mark in the 1912 Summer Olympics. He was the first Finn to compete in the Olympics, and he made his country proud by winning the bronze medal in the featherweight category.
This was an impressive feat, considering the fact that he was up against more experienced wrestlers from around the world. Alpo was born in Finland in 1891 and began his career as a wrestler at a young age.
He trained diligently and soon became one of the most respected wrestlers in his country. In 1912, he was selected to represent Finland in the Summer Olympics.
He competed in the featherweight category and managed to come third, winning the bronze medal. Alpo’s bronze medal win was a huge success for Finland and made him a national hero.
After his remarkable achievement, he became a much sought-after wrestler, and he went on to win numerous titles in the years that followed.
He was even invited to become part of the Finnish Olympic team in 1920, although he declined the offer and retired from wrestling shortly afterward. Alpo Asikainen left behind a legacy of success and determination.
His victory in 1912 was a major milestone in Finland’s Olympic history, and his contribution to the sport of wrestling will never be forgotten.
16. Kaarlo Mäkinen
Kaarlo Mäkinen was a renowned Finnish wrestler, who was active in the Olympic Games from 1920 until 1928. He began his Olympic career at the 1920 Games, competing in the featherweight wrestling event. Unfortunately, in this event Kaarlo was eliminated in the preliminary round.
After this, he moved up to the bantamweight category. At the 1924 Olympics, Kaarlo won the silver medal in the bantamweight event. Four years later, at the 1928 Olympics, he won the gold medal in the same category.
This outstanding achievement was the highlight of Kaarlo’s career, and it secured him a place in the history books as one of Finland’s greatest wrestlers.
17. Arvo Haavisto
Arvo Jaakko Haavisto was a Finnish wrestler with an impressive career. He first began wrestling in 1918 and quickly started to make a name for himself.
In 1924, Haavisto achieved a major milestone in his career when he won a bronze medal in the Olympic Games in freestyle wrestling.
Four years later, in 1928, Haavisto went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics, this time in freestyle wrestling. Apart from his Olympic success, Haavisto was also a highly decorated wrestler in Finland.
He won the Finnish title in freestyle wrestling for three consecutive years; from 1925 to 1927.
In 1925, he also won the Finnish title in Greco-Roman wrestling. Haavisto’s success in the Olympic Games and in his home country certainly marked him out as one of the greatest Finnish wrestlers of his time.
His success continued to inspire wrestlers in Finland and around the world.
18. Ivar Böhling
Ivar Theodor Böhling was a Finnish wrestler who competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics, held in Stockholm, Sweden. He won the silver medal in the light heavyweight class, which was one of the more challenging weight divisions.
In the finals of the tournament, he faced off against the Swedish wrestler Anders Ahlgren, in a match that would last an incredible nine hours.
Despite the grueling length of the match, both competitors emerged as the victors, as it was declared a draw. Although it was an impressive feat to last nine hours in the ring, Böhling’s achievement was even more remarkable considering the fact that he was competing against a Swedish athlete in Sweden.
It was no easy feat for a Finnish man to win a medal in a foreign country, and Böhling’s feat was a testament to his skill and determination. Böhling was an excellent wrestler, but he is perhaps best remembered for his performance in the 1912 Summer Olympics.
His feat of enduring a nine-hour match against a formidable Swedish wrestler in Sweden was an incredible achievement and one that will be remembered for many years to come.
19. Arvo Lindén
Arvo Leander Lindén was a prominent Finnish wrestler who had a remarkable career in Greco-Roman wrestling. He competed at the 1908 Olympics in London and won a bronze medal in the Greco-Roman wrestling event.
After his success in the Olympics, he changed his name to Arvo Linko. Lindén was born in 1881 in Finland and grew up in the small village of Uusikaupunki. He was an excellent wrestler from a young age, and he soon developed a reputation as one of the best in the country.
He trained hard and became well-known for his strength and technique. In 1908, Lindén was chosen to represent Finland in the Olympic Games in London. He competed in the Greco-Roman wrestling event and achieved success, winning the bronze medal.
This achievement was not only a great honor for Lindén but also for the Finnish people. After the Olympics, Lindén changed his name to Arvo Linko to show his pride as a Finn. Throughout his career, Linko continued to be a successful wrestler.
He trained and competed in numerous international tournaments. He was also a coach and mentor to many young Finnish wrestlers. He was an important figure in the world of Greco-Roman wrestling and his legacy lives on in Finland.
20. Marko Yli-Hannuksela
Marko Juhani Yli-Hannuksela is an accomplished athlete who has achieved extraordinary success in the sport of Greco-Roman wrestling.
He is a former Finnish wrestler who has won two Olympic medals and a world championship in Greco-Roman wrestling. Marko Juhani Yli-Hannuksela first started competing at the international level in 2006, at which point he won his first Olympic medal.
He then went on to win a world championship in Greco-Roman wrestling in 2007.
Unfortunately, he was unable to qualify for the 2008 Olympics, and this was the deciding factor in his decision to retire from the sport in August of that year. Despite his retirement, Marko Juhani Yli-Hannuksela is still recognized as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
He was able to achieve success at the international level that few other wrestlers have been able to replicate. His legacy as a champion will continue to inspire wrestlers around the world for years to come.
21. Oskari Kumpu
Oskari Viljami Kumpu was a remarkable figure in early 20th-century Finland. He was a wrestler who competed in the light heavyweight event at the 1912 Summer Olympics, showing his remarkable strength and athleticism.
Kumpu was also an accomplished military officer and was a prominent figure in the Finnish Civil War of 1918. During this conflict, Kumpu fought for the Red Guards, the faction supporting the Social Democratic Party of Finland.
After the war, Kumpu fled to Soviet Russia and joined the Red Army, likely due to his political sympathies. Kumpu thus became a figure of both athletic and military renown, and his legacy as a courageous figure of the early 20th century continues to live on.
22. Marko Asell
Marko Asell is a Finnish wrestler and Olympian who has achieved a great deal of success in his career. He has won an Olympic medal in Greco-Roman wrestling and is also a politician.
Asell has served in the Finnish Parliament for three terms; in the 2007-2011 term, and then again in the 2019-2023 and 2023-2027 terms. He is an extremely accomplished individual, and his success in both wrestling and politics is a testament to his hard work and dedication.
He is an inspiration to many, and his story of triumph serves as a reminder of what is possible when one puts in the effort and dedication necessary to achieve success.
23. Leo Honkala
Leo Ilmo Honkala was an accomplished Greco-Roman wrestler from Finland. He was particularly talented in the flyweight division and had considerable success in international competitions. At the 1952 Summer Olympics, he was able to take home a bronze medal, proving his skills.
Unfortunately, he was plagued with shoulder injuries in the following years and was forced to retire in 1956, although he was able to win his only national title in that year. This was a devastating blow, as Honkala was one of the more promising wrestlers in the sport.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances, he was able to achieve a great deal in his brief career and will be remembered for his accomplishments.
24. Lennart Viitala
Vilho Lennart Viitala, or “Lenni” as he was known, was a successful flyweight wrestler from Finland. He had an impressive international career, winning a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1946 European Athletics Championships and again at the 1948 Olympics.
Closer to home, he was equally successful, having won five freestyle and one Greco-Roman title. Outside of wrestling, Viitala was a carpenter by profession.
Despite his success in wrestling, he was never able to fully commit to it and instead used it as a supplement to his carpentry career. Viitala’s accomplishments in wrestling are an impressive testament to his athleticism and dedication.
His story serves as an inspiration to many, showing that it is possible to excel in multiple fields and reach success in both.
25. Tony Halme
Tony Christian Halme was an accomplished and multi-faceted individual. He had a successful career in politics, athletics, writing, acting and music. Halme served as a Member of Parliament in Finland from 2003-2007, representing the True Finns party as an independent.
His political career was characterized by his dedication to the Finnish people and his support for the True Finns party platform. Prior to his political career, Halme was an accomplished athlete, author, actor and singer.
He was a professional wrestler for over a decade, competing in the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s and 1990s. He also wrote a book, titled “Lentäjän Vapautus” (“The Pilot’s Liberation”), which was published in 2002.
Halme also appeared in several films, including “Sodankylä Forever” (2003) and “Tappajan Näköinen Mies” (2004). As a singer, he released several albums and singles in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Overall, Tony Christian Halme was an impressive figure who left a lasting legacy in Finland through his many accomplishments. His contributions to the country were recognized and appreciated by many.
26. Jarkko Ala-Huikku
Tapani Jarkko Ala-Huikku is an accomplished amateur Finnish Greco-Roman wrestler who competed in the men’s lightweight category. He achieved great success in his division at the 2007 European Wrestling Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he won a bronze medal.
His impressive performances continued at the 2008 European Wrestling Championships in Tampere, Finland, where he secured a gold medal.
This success earned him recognition as one of the most accomplished Finnish wrestlers of his generation. Ala-Huikku has been praised for his dedication and hard work over the years, which has helped him to reach the top of his sport.
His training regimen is highly disciplined and he is constantly striving to improve himself and reach the highest level of competition.
His achievements reflect his commitment to excellence and his passion for the sport of Greco-Roman wrestling. Ala-Huikku’s success is an inspiration to many aspiring wrestlers.
He has shown that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, it is possible to reach the top of your chosen sport. His example is a reminder that it is possible to achieve great things if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
The best wrestling players in Finland are some of the best in the world. They are well-trained and disciplined athletes who have achieved great success and recognition at both the national and international levels.
They have won numerous medals at the Olympics, World Championships, and European Championships. These athletes are a testament to the hard work, dedication, and commitment it takes to achieve success in the sport of wrestling.