Born under the name of Jarji Zviadauri on November 10th 1986 in Georgia, Ilias Iliadis leaves his native country’s poverty following USSR split. His adoptive father, Nikos Iliadis, heir of the Greek Pontios antic community, settles in Northern Greece. We are in 1993. His son is already on stage on the mats. Nikos passed him on his Judo and his passion. The Little Ilias appears to be really gifted…
As soon as 2001, at only 15 years old, he fights worldwide. In 2002, being upgraded in the Junior category, he finishes 3rd of the European championships. In 2003, he wins the continental titles in two age categories, Cadet and Junior ones (160 lbs) !
Here comes the summer 2004. The Olympic Games are organized in Athens, “his” beloved city. He is already considered as one of the favourite for Gold. In the spring, he had accomplished a resounding performance by winning the Senior European championships (he beat Bischof from Germany in the final). And he is only 17.
The most amazing has not yet come. In front of his frenzied fellow countrymen, Ilias Iliadis becomes Olympic champion (180 lbs) thanks to his victory over Ukrainian Hontyuk in the final. A God is born ! And his story has just begun…
Everyone predicts him an awesome future. Marabouts were right… Winner of the Mediterranean Games the following year, he also gets the gold in the Under 23 European championships in 2006 (220 lbs). But Ilias Iliadis will have to wait to become World champion.
Finalist in 2005 and in 2007, he finally wins his the World Championships in 2010 (-90 kg). A true masterpiece ! In Tokyo, he swaps everybody away and qualifies for the final against Japanese Nishiyama. The Greek keeps writing his legend by hammering him with Ippon !
He strikes again the following year in Paris and doubles, the title and the Ippon in final. But, in 2012, he fails to conquer a new Olympic Gold medal. He nevertheless wins the Bronze, his 2nd Olympic medal in 8 years ! In 2014, he becomes one of the few to be a 3 times World champion (3rd in 2013).
European champion in 2011, 3rd in 2010 and 2015, Ilias Iliadis has a germ of a new idea in his head : to win a 2nd Gold medal in the Rio Olympics. But the Gods were not along him on this day. Beaten in the 1st round by a surprising Chinese Zheng, he officially retires at 29 years old. A new life begins. And of course, Judo is concerned.