Gheorghe Berceanu, former Olympic champion and world champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, died today in Slatina

Article by Marius Morgret – Published Tuesday, August 30, 2022, 2:18 pm / Updated Tuesday, August 30, 2022 at 3:01 pm

George Berciano (72 years old), Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling in 1972, died today at the Munich Games, the true legend of Romanian sport, at the age of 72. He had a heart attack while he was in Slatina.

Bersino, nicknamed “the pocket Hercules” because of his stature, 1.50 meters high, was just present at Targu Jiu, for a reunion of ex-combatants. On the way back, he stopped in Slatina to visit a friend, and did it there.

The Romanian Wrestling Federation confirmed this tragic information.

“Professor Jorge Berciano, Olympic Champion of Roman Wrestling, passed away today”

Tragic news for Romanian sport! Gheorghe Berciano, the Olympic champion of Roman wrestling, passed away today.

The Romanian Wrestling Federation laments the heavy loss of those who wrote an important part of the history of Roman wrestling. My sincere condolences to the family and loved ones!

He began practicing Greco-Roman wrestling at Electroputere Club in Craiova, under coach Eli Marinescu, after which he moved to Steaua Bucharest where he was registered until his retirement from the sport. Within the 48 kg class, he won eight national titles.

He participated in two editions of the Olympic Games, in 1972, in Munich, where he won the Olympic title, and in 1976, in Montreal, where he won the silver medal.

He was a Triple European Champion in 1970, 1972 and 1973 and a two-time World Champion in 1969 and 1970. After retiring from competitive activity, he became a coach for the Greco-Roman wrestling division of Steaua Bucharest. He was awarded the spotlight honorary title, and in 2000 he was awarded the National Order of Merit with the rank of knight. At the beginning of September, on the occasion of the World Senior Wrestling Championships in Belgrade, Gheorghe Berceanu was due to be inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame.“It was the sad news announced by the Romanian Wrestling Federation.

  • Image source: Sports Newspaper Archive

He defeated Jorge Bersino only twice in his career

Bersino was born in Karna, Dolj, on December 28, 1949. As a child, Bersino played football, but his height was a major hindrance. Thus, he reorientated himself toward combat, and ended up writing history for Romania. George Bersino is a Romanian sports legend. From 69 to 76 he won an Olympic title, three European and two world titles. I only lost twice. In 73, he contracted hepatitis. He stayed a year and came back in the year 75.

He immediately went to the world, losing in the final to Russian Zubkov. Misfortune struck him again in 1976, when he underwent meniscus surgery. Just two months before the Olympics in Montreal, he’s back on the rug. He was disqualified in the final with Russian Semakov.

“I stole. The judges disqualified me for no reason. At that time, the Russians were fighting for the total number of medals with the Americans. We were three Romanians in the Greco-Roman finals, me, Russo and Jingo. We all lost the Olympic title against some Soviets,” Berchino said, In an interview with Gazzetta in 2010.

Jorge Bersino, the national hero, banned from participating in the World Championships

In 77, Berceanu retired. At the suggestion of his friend and former opponent, dynamic Ion Gelu, he resumed the fight in ’83. “I bet a can of beer that I would be a national champion again. I succeeded after 6 years of rest. I also wanted to go to the World Cup to check on myself.” Preparing for the 84th Olympic Games.

But the Federation decided to send the deputy national champion, because he was younger. I was told ‘You, Jeka, are going to the international tournaments’. And in the first round, in Finland, I asked them if they were going. “Jekka, we’re sorry, but they didn’t put you on the list.” Then I realized they were making fun of me and I gave up forever,” Berciano said.

little golden giant

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, George Bersino won the Greco-Roman title, 48 kg, crushing all his opponents.

At that time, Gheorghe Berceanu was impregnable for almost 3 years with a weight of 48 kg, the smallest class, semi-fly, also called “paper”. In 1969, he already won two world titles, in Mar del Plata, then in Edmonton (1970) and two other continental titles, in Berlin (1970) and Katowice (1972).

Biography of Jorge Berciano

  • Date of Birth: 12/28/1949
  • Play Greco-Roman wrestling at Electroputere Craiova and at Steaua
  • Olympic Champion in 72, Vice Olympic Champion in 76
  • World champion in 69 and 70, vice world champion in 75
  • European Champion at 70, 72, 73
  • 8 times national champion

May God have mercy on him!

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