The World Sambo Championships are scheduled to take place in Casablanca from tomorrow until Sunday (November 15) ©FIAS

The 39th edition of the World Sambo Championships is set to begin here tomorrow, marking the first time that the sport’s flagship event has been held in Africa.

A total of 27 gold medals will be won across three days of action in Morocco’s largest city with women's and men's sport sambo and men's combat sambo all featuring on the programme. 

The women will battle it out for top honours in the 48 kilogram, 60kg and 72kg weight divisions on the opening day of competition before the 52kg, 64kg and 80kg categories take centre stage on day two, followed by the 56kg, 68kg and over 80kg classes on Sunday (November 15).

First up for the men are the 52kg, 68kg and 90kg divisions with the 57kg, 74kg and 100kg categories being held on day two and the 62kg, 82kg and over 100kg classes rounding off the schedule.

Combat sambo, which unlike sport sambo allows punches, kicks, elbows, knees, headbutts and groin strikes, will be contested in the 57kg, 74kg, 100kg, 62kg, 82kg, over 100kg, 52kg, 68kg and 90kg divisions.

Double world champion Maria Molchanova of Russia is among the headline names competing in women’s sport sambo, along with newly-crowned European champion Daniela Hondiu of Romania and Baku 2015 European Games gold medallist Ivana Jandric of Serbia, while Bulgaria’s Marko Kosev will be aiming for his fifth world crown when he contests combat sambo’s 57kg division.

Russia are expected to be the dominant force overall having been the leading country at all but one of the previous 38 World Championships since their inception in 1973.

The only country to break their stranglehold was Georgia in 1997, when they hosted the event in Tbilisi. 

Nicaragua, hosts of September’s Pan-American Sambo Championships, are one of those looking to make their mark however.

"We're confident that our athletes will once again do their best for us and win," the National Federation wrote on its Facebook page.

"It won't be easy, but we can do it.

"We've already won in previous Championships, and this time will be no exception."

The President of the Trinidad and Tobago Sambo and Combat Sambo Federation, Jason Fraser, is also expecting big things from the Caribbean nation’s representatives, particularly Joash Walkins and Martin Joseph.

Walkins, currently ranked fifth in the world, won top honours at the Sambo Commonwealth Games, as well as at the Pan-American and National Championships.

Meanwhile, Joseph is ranked 11th in the world having won silver at the Sambo Commonwealth Games, and bronze at last year’s President’s Cup in Kent, England.

"These guys, I believe, have a wonderful opportunity to medal this year," Fraser told the Trinidad Express.

"We have guys who are ranked from seventh, to fifth, to 11th, but we have never medalled (at the World Championships) out of 119 countries and I believe that this a great opportunity."

FIAS President Vasily Shestakov is heading sambo's push for IOC recognition
FIAS President Vasily Shestakov is heading sambo's push for IOC recognition ©FIAS

The International Sambo Federation (FIAS) will be keen to put on a good show as it continues to push for International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognition.

Speaking ahead of September's President's Cup in Manchester, FIAS President Vasily Shestakov claimed there are no longer "any kind of barriers" to stop the sport. 

His country Russia blew away the opposition at the event, successfully defending their President's Cup crown with an emphatic 7-0 win in the final against the team of the Commonwealth.

It came after the nation had comfortably topped the medal standings at both the European Sambo Championships in Zagreb and Baku 2015 earlier this year.

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