Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

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T200
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Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by T200 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:58 am

In a move that may change the future of the sport of wrestling more than anything in modern history, the International Olympic Committee on 2/12 voted to eliminate the sport from the summer Olympics.

Because of a decision to add Golf and Rugby to the Olympics, the IOC had a meeting to decide a sport to be dropped, because they wanted to keep the number of sports, now 25, to be no more than 26. There was no reason for this magic number, other than it was a number decide upon.

Voting was conducted by a secret ballot over several rounds of voting. The four sports that were on the ballot at the end were wrestling, taekwondo, modern pentathlon and field hockey. Two other sports were also the day before in danger of getting the ax, badminton and table tennis.

While the news wrestling was under consideration to be dropped was a scare to those in wrestling, given its history, dating back to the first modern Olympics in 1896, and worldwide participation, the feeling was strong that it was on a dangerous list, but it wasn’t going to be dropped.

In the end, the decision came down to wrestling and Modern Pentathlon. Modern pentathlon, one of the oldest Olympic sports, dating back to 1912, was created by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympic movement. It is like a decathlon in track, in the sense it combines several different competitions with scores in each being added up. The pentathlon consists of fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting. What may have saved the sport is that work of Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of an Olympic administrative icon who was the IOC President for decades.

“It’s just stunning to me,” said Houston Mitchell of the Los Angeles Times, who covered the decision. “There is no logical rationale, based on their criteria in the past, for dropping wrestling. It has worldwide appeal. No one country dominates it. Wrestlers from 71 countries competed in wrestling in London and FILA, its international governing body, lists 180 member nations. At the last Olympics, 29 different countries medaled.

In comparison, athletes from 26 countries competed in modern pentathlon. And modern pentathlon is a sport developed because it used the same skills a 19th century cavalry officer used. I don’t mean to pick on modern pentathlon, especially with a sport like synchronized swimming still in the Olympics, but this is just a ridiculous decision.”

The problem, apparently, is that those 29 nations that won medals were not well represented on the IOC board.

The decision was made by a vote from the IOC’s Executive Board. According to those close to the situation, there were 14 voters. They came one each from Belgium, Singapore, Morocco, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Taipei, Switzerland, Ireland, Spain, Ukraine and Guatemala, plus two from Germany. Of those countries, only Ukraine is any kind of a modern wrestling threat.

South Korean president-elect Park Geun Hye pushed the IOC to keep taekwondo. Field Hockey was saved by nationalism, as Germany, Spain, Australia, and the U.K. have all won recent medals, a list that better matches the home country of the key board members.

The voters were very close early on, but the final vote, according to the Canadian Post sources (the balloting was secretive) was eight voted to eliminate wrestling, three voted for modern pentathlon and the other three voted for field hockey when it was narrowed down.

FILA, the governing body of wrestling, didn’t push as hard, or as effectively, as UNIM, the governing body of the modern pentathlon, or those of the other sports involved in the elimination voting.

Bill Dwyre, the former sports editor of the Los Angeles Times, and an expert on the Olympics, noted that the decision was made, inexplicably without any input from NBC, which carries the games and would have likely favored keeping wrestling above the pentathlon.

As things stand right now, wrestling, consisting of freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle (which was introduced in 2004), will be part of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as a lame duck sport.

There is a slim chance wrestling wouldn’t be dead as an Olympic sport, largely based on public pressure from enough places, because there is certain to be a strong movement in several countries regarding this decision. But the IOC is notoriously stubborn about its decisions, and not reversing them. The plan is to add a new sport in 2020, a decision expected to be made between 9/7 and 9/10 when the IOC meets in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

The sports that will be vying for the last spot are wrestling, baseball/softball (voted out in 2005 after a short run, last competed for in the 2008 games), karate, squash, roller sports, sports climbing, wakeboarding and wushu (a Chinese martial art that combines kickboxing and grappling techniques but also involves demonstration techniques of flashy spinning kicks as opposed to only combat).

Few sports have the international historical tradition of wrestling, whose backers claim wrestling and foot races to be the oldest sports in existence. Wrestling dates back to the original Olympics in 776 B.C. and about 240 years later, the famed Milo of Croton won five straight Olympic gold medals over a 24 year period before he was beaten in 516 B.C. in his attempt to win his sixth. So that places him with modern sports legends Alexander Karelin, the 286-pound Russian Greco-Roman specialist who was the most dominant Olympic wrestler of all-time. The idea that the sport of Karelin, and his predecessor as the all-time freestyle best, Alexander Medved, as well as current stars and Japanese women’s national heroes like Saori Yoshida and Kaoru Icho, have their sport dropped is hard to believe.

The decision was made based on a confidential report that looked at more than three dozen criteria for keeping a sport in the Olympics, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, global participation and overall popularity. Due to television ratings, sports like wrestling and boxing, that don’t have a lot of appeal to women, have had their amount of television coverage cut way back since the 70s and 80s when people like Dan Gable and Jeff Blatnick’s Olympic gold medals were major national stories. But even as late as 2000, Rulon Gardner’s win over Karelin was probably the most heavily covered wrestling match in modern U.S. Olympic history and a major part of Olympic sports history. In addition, in London, every wrestling session sold out.

Kurt Angle felt the timing was horrible, thinking the U.S. was headed for a comeback like their glory period in the 70s and 80s, when Dan Gable, Ben Peterson, Wayne Welles, John Peterson, Ed Banach, Lou Banach, Bruce Baumgartner, Randy Lewis, David Schultz, Mark Schultz, Bobby Weaver, Jeff Blatnick, Steve Fraser and Kenny Monday all captured gold medals. He said the wrestler ushering in the comeback was Jordan Burroughs, the world’s most dominant wrestler, who won a gold medal at 165 pounds in London and is going for a repeat in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The IOC is also in September going to announce the host city for the 2020 Olympic games. What could be a saving grace is if Tokyo gets the Olympics, because as soon as the news hit, those in Japan immediately starting pushing to bring it back. Japan has had a number of high profile male Olympic wrestlers who became pro wrestling superstars like Jumbo Tsuruta and Riki Choshu, two of the country’s all-time pro wrestling greats, along with Masa Saito, Yoshiaki Yatsu and Hiroshi Hase, who were all top-level stars. Japan is also the dominant country for women’s wrestling. Besides Yoshida and Icho, Kyoko Hamaguchi, the son of pro wrestler Animal Hamaguchi, appeared in a number of major television commercials and was one of the country’s most popular Olympic athletes, even being named flag bearer for Japan at the 2004 Olympic opening ceremonies.

However, Tokyo is considered a longshot for the 2020 games, because of what is perceived to be a lack of public support. The favorite host city at this point appears to be Istanbul.

“I believe if we fight hard enough, the replacement sport for wrestling will be wrestling,” said Angle, who noted the first thing he woke up to on 2/12 was the news and he didn’t believe it. “If Japan gets the bid, they’re going to demand wrestling be put back. With the IOC, I hope that doesn’t mean they’ll say, `We’re not going to pick you.’ I don’t know if that’s going to be the determining factor. I hope Japan gets it.”

If Olympic wrestling goes away, a lot of its legacy, from Gable to Karelin to Baumgartner to David Schultz, and its history, are likely to be forgotten.

“You can’t just forget the names, I hope to God this doesn’t happen, but those names will virtually be forgotten if there is no wrestling,” said Angle. “In the U.S., we have our own form of wrestling (high school and collegiate folkstyle wrestling). It won’t die here. But I can’t imagine what other countries are feeling that don’t have a lot of other sports, like Iran, Turkey, in the opening ceremonies, they may have 18 people, and they field a wrestling team. We have 700. Look at the Russians. This is their sport. They dominated for 50 of the last 75 years. How hard are they going to fight? USA Wrestling is going to fight. We need other countries to step up.”

This will hurt an aspect of the legacy of wrestling, in the sense the world championships get very little publicity in the U.S., so stories about winning and losing, close matches and upsets, will be known by very few. The Olympic wins by Gardner, Blatnick and Gable, as well as the Olympic losses by Danny Hodge and Chris Taylor are part of wrestling and Olympic history, with moves like Wilfried Dietrich German suplex on Taylor in 1972 and Karelin’s gut wrenches in 1988 and 1992 immortalized in posters all over the world.

“We were considered weak in some of the scores in the program commission report but strong in others,” said Samaranch Jr. to the AP about saving the modern pentathlon. “We played our cards to the best of our ability and stressed the positives. Tradition is one of our strongest assets, but we are also a multi-sport discipline that produces very complete people.”

FILA, the international governing body for the sport of wrestling, released a statement saying, “FILA will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC Executive Board and IOC members of the aberration of such a decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic games.”

“It might just awaken a sleeping giant here,” said Cael Sanderson, America’s top wrestler of the last decade. “It’s sickening really. It makes me sick to think about it.”

Most likely, the quality and caliber of post-collegiate wrestling in the U.S. will go down drastically after the 2016 Olympics. Even though there are wrestlers, Angle noting he’d have been one of them, who would have continued in their sport with the same drive to world a championship, things would be different. The entire elite level wrestling program in the U.S. is supported by the Olympic Committee, which pays the coaching staff and houses the top wrestlers in Colorado Springs. When it is no longer an Olympic sport, that dies. There will still be some major wrestling clubs, but the coaching won’t be as good and the caliber of top athletes all training together in one facility won’t be there. The number of elite competitors will drop. More will likely enter MMA earlier and a few will enter pro wrestling earlier. Others won’t get the shot at pro wrestling because anyone 185 pounds or more with an Olympic wrestling medal in anyone of a number of countries that WWE runs with the right look will be scouted by Gerald Brisco. Without that Olympic visibility, or a gold medal, many, even in the U.S., could fall under the radar. Similarly, with no Olympics, the type of Greco-Roman talent that historically has done well in MMA, like a Randy Couture, Dan Henderson or Matt Lindland, is likely to have their wrestling career end after college, and not specialize in the Greco that played a big part in their MMA success.

Olympic wrestling has spawned some of the biggest names in both pro wrestling and MMA history. Some, like Angle, were recruited into pro wrestling after winning Olympic gold medals, that without it, would not have likely ever moved into that world. Others, like Couture and Dan Severn in MMA, never actually competed in the Olympics, but it was the drive to make an Olympic team that kept them learning more and improving their skill level in wrestling when they otherwise would have moved on to a coaching job or a regular job.

Other names who became pro wrestlers including Baron Von Raschke, Jun Akiyama, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kazushi Sakuraba and Minoru Suzuki were Olympic wrestling hopefuls whose drive for the Olympics, even though they failed to make the team, opened up doors and gave them that allowed them to get into pro wrestling, and eventually be players in the genre.

A number of Hall of Famers in pro wrestling were on various Olympic teams including Angle, Verne Gagne, Danny Hodge, Tsuruta, Choshu, Mad Dog Vachon, Karl Gotch, Earl McCready, Ed Don George, Saito and Hase.

John DaSilva, the biggest native pro wrestling star in New Zealand, and Henri DeGlane, the biggest star in the heyday of pro wrestling in France (as well as the first major pro wrestling drawing card in Montreal) also came from the Olympics.

Other genuine stars that came out of the Olympics included former NWA world champion Dick Hutton, Dale Lewis, Thunder Sugiyama and Bob Roop.

MMA top stars who came out of Olympic wrestling, besides Couture and Severn, who were alternates, included Bellator champion Ben Askren, UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman, as well as current UFC fighters Daniel Cormier, Dan Henderson, Sara McMann and Yoel Romero.

It’s hard to ascertain what this will mean overall when it comes to the sport of wrestling, although the high school and college programs in the U.S. probably won’t be affected greatly, but the NCAA tournament would be the pinnacle and the end for the majority of the elite level wrestlers, as opposed to moving on to international competition. Angle noted it will also hurt “late bloomers,” guys who may have been good college wrestlers, but never won an NCAA title, who later fared better on the international stage. Couture, Daniel Cormier and King Mo Lawal all placed in the NCAA tournament, but never won, but won national titles and competed at the world level far more successfully than most NCAA champions.

College wrestling has declined greatly in recent years as far as schools fielding times due to Title IX and the fact the sport is rarely self-sufficient financially. High school wrestling is still popular, actually on the upswing. Some credit that to MMA, which is likely to be more of a positive when it comes to kids wanting to wrestle in high school than the loss of wrestling in the Olympics would be a negative.
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by DARTH » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:31 am

This is WAYYYYYY fucked up. What fucking faggots voted for this shit. Wrestling is one of the original Olympic sports. The Olympics was all combat or military applicable sports.

This is more of the emasculation of western culture, spearheaded by euro trash thats sits to piss.

Make way for Golf?! Fucking Christ!


There needs to be a real ,amatuer "Real Olympics"

Wrestling (Freestyle, Catch/Submission and Greeco Roman
Boxing
Karate
Judo
Sambo
BJJ
Muay Thai
MMA (Since Pankration is no more other than Arvantus anda few martial artest who "revived it")
Tough Mudder
Javelin
Archery
Shooting
Ruck Marching with Ladn nav.
Fencing
Single Stick
Full Contact Stick Fighting
Power drinking!




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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Turdacious » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:41 am

I prefer to read expert opinions:
IOC I fuck you up you disrespect the legend and my only sport Wrestling. They have no dick they make new sport of go fuck yourself

somebody intelligent tell me what new sport instead of the wrestling so i tell IOC they are dumb son of a bitch no good motherfucker

New olympic sport is who has smaller dick than Hulk Hogan

FUCK THE IOC

I wake up i get phone call from my agents @pagemagen he tell me no more wrestling in the Olympics it break my heart forever
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Kraj 2.0 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:15 am

The Olympics exist for one reason - to make $$$$$ for everyone involved. Rugby and golf get asses in the seats. Watching two midgets Kazakhs taking turns sticking their fingers in each others' assholes trying to get the pin doesn't. It's as simple as that.

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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Fat Cat » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:33 am

Turdacious wrote:I prefer to read expert opinions:
IOC I fuck you up you disrespect the legend and my only sport Wrestling. They have no dick they make new sport of go fuck yourself

somebody intelligent tell me what new sport instead of the wrestling so i tell IOC they are dumb son of a bitch no good motherfucker

New olympic sport is who has smaller dick than Hulk Hogan

FUCK THE IOC

I wake up i get phone call from my agents @pagemagen he tell me no more wrestling in the Olympics it break my heart forever
Gotta be the Sheik.
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Herv100 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:18 am

Sheik's first quote from yesterday was even better:
“After 1000 years they take away the best sport in the world? This is the first time the dumb motherf**kers have no balls for they make the walking an Olympic sport.”

If I see anybody on the street that work from the IOC I swear to the Jesus I suplex them put them in camel clutch break their back make them humble.

“The #TEAMSHEIKIE respect the Olympic now they can all go f**k themselves and make the Curling Olympic sport because they all the biggest piece of no good s**t and I never watch the Olympic again. Also buy my t shirt [on my website] or go f**k yourself.”
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by DARTH » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:50 am

=D> =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>




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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Tommy D » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:17 pm

Karelin training (part 1):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxvWbnFV ... ata_player
The music alone is inspirational as fuck, never mind the sweet KB moves (of which there are even more in part 2). Karelin & Denisov may just be the Russian And1 dream team!

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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by TerryB » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:10 pm

I dont click links
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Fat Cat » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:11 pm

protobuilder wrote:I dont click links
Then how did you get here?
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by TerryB » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:14 pm

Fat Cat wrote:
protobuilder wrote:I dont click links
Then how did you get here?
I just signed up and got an account.
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Fat Cat » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:10 am

Via links. You're a damn liar.
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by gist718 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:16 am

Tommy D wrote:Karelin training (part 1):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxvWbnFV ... ata_player
The music alone is inspirational as fuck, never mind the sweet KB moves (of which there are even more in part 2). Karelin & Denisov may just be the Russian And1 dream team!
Look at him at 1:45 playing hard nosed russian basketball and throwing all 5 opposition players at once, arguably the best athlete in any sport, legend.

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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Chessman » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:37 am

One of the best places to train is closing. Imagine what those kids must be feeling.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/sport ... h_20130219&
MARQUETTE, Mich. — When he heard the news last Tuesday, Barrett Stanghill retreated to his dormitory room on the third floor of Meyland Hall at Northern Michigan University and reconsidered his future. The executive board of the International Olympic Committee had voted to eliminate wrestling from the Summer Games, starting in 2020, and Stanghill found it almost impossible to process. “I was pretty upset,” he said, measuring his words.

Stanghill, 18, is part of a cadre of elite wrestlers who train and study at Northern Michigan, the home of the United States Olympic Education Center for Greco-Roman wrestling — the only facility of its kind in the country. Unlike other college programs, which operate under the umbrella of the N.C.A.A. and compete in the more mainstream freestyle wrestling, the Greco-Roman specialists here train in virtual anonymity. There are no dual meets against top programs like Iowa or Penn State. There are no N.C.A.A. titles to be won. The Northern Michigan wrestlers are preparing, quite simply, to become Olympians.
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by T200 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:17 pm

This week's Observer:
With the dust cleared on the decision to remove wrestling from the Olympics in 2020, a large push has come, in particular from Russia, the U.S. and Japan, toward having the decision overturned in September.

Wrestling appears to have fallen victim to, among other things, complacency. FILA did not politic for it strongly, and there was a feeling within wrestling that because of its history, it was safe.

Those at the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Wrestling claimed they were totally blindsided, having no idea wrestling was even in jeopardy. FILA officials claimed the same thing, and within wrestling circles, the heat was put on Raphael Martinetti, who had headed FILA since 2002. Four days after the decision, Martinetti was forced to resign.

Bill Scherr, a 1988 Olympic bronze medalist in wrestling, said he got wind wrestling could be in trouble when talking to board members since he was involved with the failed campaign to get the 2016 games in Chicago. He said he alerted FILA officials, and claimed they ignored his warnings. Scherr said that they assumed that wrestling’s history, dating back to the original Olympics, which started around 700 years B.C., would always be its saving grace.

As noted, it was the makeup of the board, dominated by Western European country representatives, where wrestling is not part of school programs and a popular high school sport like in the U.S., or a major sport like in places like several of the former Soviet countries and Iran. Wrestling was also hurt that Spain’s voting member, and an influential board member is Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the vice president of the International Modern Pentathlon Union (IMPU).

Wrestling was hurt by timing as well. There was no great worldwide sports star, like Alexander Karelin, Alexander Medved or Dan Gable, as in other generations. Saori Yoshida, the Japanese woman star with three straight gold medals, is still only known in Japan, where she is a superstar, being the country’s flag bearer for both the opening and closing ceremonies. She’s now 32, and will be 37 when the 2020 Olympics take place. She stated her goal was to finish her career with five gold medals. Age may catch up with her in 2016 or 2020, but the idea of it is certainly possible. One of the criteria they look at is if a sport has an existing superstar.

The U.S. wrestling community had no idea there was any trouble until after the decision was made. The only mainstream publicity believed to be in the U.S. was in the Los Angeles Times the day before the actual voting took place. Even then, the feeling was it was unfathomable given wrestling’s long history as an Olympic sport and how many countries sent teams to the last Olympics.

The problem is that it’s the same people who made the decision that would have to reverse the decision, and if you look at history, those people seem unlikely too do so.

Only three sports in history were ever voted out of the Olympics and then returned. Tennis was brought back in 1988, but that is also a far more popular sport than wrestling, and nowadays brings with it international superstar athletes. Golf and Rugby are both being brought back in 2016, and gold also brings with it international superstar athletes. Rugby is very popular in a lot of countries. The shortest time any sport was ever kicked out and then returned was 64 years.

But while nobody in wrestling seemed aware, wrestling had not fared well in a 39-category study on Olympic sports. In most of the key categories, which were television ratings, Internet hits and press coverage, wrestling ranked low on a worldwide basis. Once again, part of that is a publicity issue because there were no real worldwide stars pushed coming into the last Olympics. On a worldwide basis, an average of 23 million viewers watched wrestling on television, which is not a good number, but still almost double Modern Pentathlon at 12.5 million. But Pentathlon officials have known for a decade their Olympic status was in jeopardy so they weren’t taking anything for granted.

There are 177 countries that have national championships in wrestling, and 71 different countries had representatives in the London Olympics, having to qualify by virtue of placing in tough tournaments. The modern pentathlon is done in 53 countries, 26 of which sent representatives to London. For field hockey, another sport considered for elimination, there were teams coming from 15 countries at the Olympics.

The 2014 Winter Olympics are in Russia, so they have some political muscle, as does the United States, given that NBC’s television contract is by far the largest in the Olympics.

Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian Olympic committee, immediately said they would use all of their strength to try and get wrestling back for the 2020 games.

U.S. wrestlers and officials were encouraged by the news that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was said to be livid with the IOC making the decision without giving them advanced warning, since Russia is the wrestling powerhouse nation and hosts an IOC executive board meeting in May. U.S. wrestling officials are hopeful that leading U.S. politicians follow suit in trying to have them back wrestling to return, but the reality is, baseball, on the list of sports being considered for the 2020 games, is far more popular in this country.

And therein lies the problem. Even if wrestling somehow is saved for now, and given past history, the odds are not good in their favor, although a strong U.S., Russian and Japanese alliance would have plenty of clout.

The problem is, in the end, there are going to be a finite number of sports in the Olympics and you have to appeal to the consumers. Yes, wrestling by all rights should be ahead of modern pentathlon, but with all its history, it is still near the bottom in popularity. Golf and tennis can bring international sports superstars to the Olympics. Gymnastics, track and swimming create superstars. One thing in wrestling’s favor is that it hasn’t had the drug scandals of track and weightlifting, and that is one of the criteria considered. But wrestling officials in a sense have a myopic view of the beauty of their sport because it is so difficult and the conditioning level so high that they haven’t addressed the dangers of not being popular. What wrestling has going for it is that it’s always been in the Olympics and that it is practiced everywhere. In the long run, that won’t be enough, because as years go on, television ratings are going to be a barometer and sports that are television friendly with people perceived as big stars worldwide are going to stay.

If Tokyo gets the 2020 games, there will be a big political push for wrestling. Amateur wrestling has some notoriety because of the number of major celebrity pro wrestlers who came from the sport, and nowhere is women’s wrestling more popular since Japan is the dominant nation. Yoshida and Kauro Icho have some sports notoriety. Kyoko Hamaguchi, who has now retired, was very well known from television commercials and talk shows. Istanbul is the favorite, and Turkey is one of the countries men’s wrestling is strong. The other frontrunner, Madrid, would have less of a reason to push for wrestling.

As soon as the news came out, Rich Bender and USA Wrestling immediately initiated a campaign, recruiting numerous former Olympic and world champions. Representatives from the U.S., Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, and Turkey met in Iran this past week, and they have contacted representatives from Japan, Cuba, India and South Korea to work together for a formal presentation. They agreed to begin talks on major rule changes to make the sport more television-friendly.

Participation in wrestling at the high school level has grown in recent years, which many have credited to MMA. Still, many wrestling traditionalists have been negative on MMA, feeling it takes top wrestlers away from the sport, with the prime example being Ben Askren going into MMA rather than go for the 2012 Olympic team.

Within wrestling, a lot of complaints were thrown at FILA, in particular rule changes regarding overtime that most wrestlers and fans hate. At the Olympic trials, the fans booed every match that went into overtime because of what they consider are bogus rules.

Wrestling was also hurt by having some empty seats at the Olympics in London. During all the sessions combined, they sold 113,851 tickets out of 116,854 available, which sounds impressive, but almost every event in London sold out and had long waiting lists. Part of that had to do with the Olympics being in a country where amateur wrestling isn’t part of the school system.

As far as what this means for competitors, it’s different for different people. In talking with Kurt Angle, he noted he had such tunnel vision when it came to wrestling, developed from coming up in a family of good wrestlers, that even if there were no Olympics, he would have continued on with the sport and tried to win the world championship.

King Mo Lawal, however, was different. He said that he got into wrestling because he was a fan of individual sports and loved the Olympics and pro wrestling. He said his goal from the start in wrestling was to make the Olympic team, noting when he started, he didn’t even know there was such a thing as college wrestling or that it could get him a scholarship, but he knew wrestling was in the Olympics. He said if the Olympics weren’t in wrestling, he’d have instead started amateur boxing, his other favorite sport, since his goal was to make an Olympic team (he missed out in 2008 losing a match in overtime in the finals at 185 pounds to determine the U.S. team member).

Ben Askren noted that if there were no Olympics after he finished his collegiate eligibility, and there was no MMA, he would have probably continued on in wrestling to go for the world championship. However, with MMA, he’d have gone directly from college wrestling to MMA, without spending a few years to train for the Olympics.

In the U.S., because of wrestling’s status in high schools and colleges, the base of the sport is likely not to be changed in a major way. Very few wrestlers in high school get into the sport based on the idea of going to the Olympics. It may be the dream of some of the better ones, but most of them would have goals of winning District or state, or getting a scholarship to college. In college, the goals would be winning the NCAAs.

What it would change, likely drastically, as Askren’s case points out, that a far greater number of wrestlers will finish their careers after the NCAA tournament, as opposed to competing internationally and being on the national team. Not only is the entire infrastructure going to be different, since the best wrestlers in the country spend months of the year based in Colorado Springs, to train with the best wrestlers and the national team coaches, to prepare for international competition. That is all at the Olympic training center, funded by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Once wrestling is out of the Olympics, wrestling is out of that system. There will still be some top wrestlers who want to compete internationally, but the numbers will drop, and they won’t have the coaching, funding or training partners at anywhere near the level they have now.

Bill Watts, the longtime pro wrestling promoter who started out as an amateur wrestler and a major supporter, wrote a letter to former Olympic wrestler and coach Wayne Baughman, saying that a lot of the problems with amateur wrestling are self-inflicted, noting that people in charge failed to make changes to make it more spectator-friendly as other sports have done.

“It became a much more boring spectator sport,” Watts wrote. “The elitists of wrestling ruled. The braintrust tried to make NCAA close to Olympic style, with ridiculous tilts for back points, which for all purposes eliminated so much exciting matwork (and you remember how the college crowds cheered as you’d go for some back-exposing escape, like a switch or even a long sit-out). They made so many pinning holds potentially dangerous, eliminating the figure four bodylock and other painful holds, made stalling on top become another mysterious negative. Damn, if a hold hurts too much, put your shoulders down. If you can’t escape, do not penalize the guy on top. And referees started totally controlling the matches, not the wrestlers.”

Watts said there should be higher points for a higher amplitude throw or takedown, and no points for countering takedowns.

“But nothing was done. I seldom watch it anymore, even if it happens to be on TV and I’d never attend a live event anymore. It’s just become boring. But Olympic wrestling is even more boring.”

“And my gosh, Greco-Roman wrestling is even more boring. I’d rather watch grass grow, and I love wrestling. But when a heavyweight gold medal is decided in the U.S.’s favor over the Russian breaking his own standing body lock to secure a better one (the 2000 Rulon Gardner win over Alexander Karelin, one of the most famous Olympic wrestling matches in history), and that was the only criteria in that totally boring match, in the entire match, nothing really happened, something is dreadfully wrong.”

Watts closed with: “Still, I too mourn with you this decision of the IOC. But I’ve also long-mourned the amateur wrestling elitists failure to grasp the big picture economics of their sport. At least now with MMA and the UFC, a good wrestler has a pro career possibility, because they have a spectator friendly sport. Maybe these elitists who run amateur wrestling will finally wake up, and yes, certainly fight the fight to get it restored. But at the same time, make some positive changes to create a more vibrant and expanding fan base. Make it exciting to watch. Let the athletes be the focus, not the referees. Or will they just take a victim’s attitude of being wronged, and keep ignoring the obvious?”
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by vern » Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:27 am

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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by TerryB » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:28 pm

The answer is obvious: Vince McMahon should take over American wrestling and FILA

TV ratings would improve dramatically
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Turdacious » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:38 pm

protobuilder wrote:The answer is obvious: Vince McMahon should take over American wrestling and FILA

TV ratings would improve dramatically
Not a bad idea really-- he is a first rate promoter, something both college and Olympic wrestling seems to lack. And it's not like anybody is going to watch Olympic wrestling live anyway when it's only shown at four in the morning.
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Protobuilder » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:39 am

The sport deserves a look because of things like this.

http://edition.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c4 ... g-iran.cnn
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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Herv100 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:46 pm

Terry B. wrote:The sport deserves a look because of things like this.

http://edition.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c4 ... g-iran.cnn

Indeed, I told a story years ago on here, when the Bush admin was stepping up the Iran war propaganda, about an Iranian wrestler, world champ Ali Reza Hedari, who gave me his wrestling shoes at a US vs Iran duel in Iowa when I offered to buy them. He didn't speak English well, but his teammate walked by and said it was an honor for him to give them to me. The Iranian people like America and American culture. And as that story you posted shows, wrestling helps bring countries together.

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Re: Wrestling Observer on the Olympic wrestling ouster

Post by Turdacious » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:29 pm

Very cool story-- there are a lot of things to be admired about Middle Eastern culture.

Reminds me of something from this book about an exchange at Ayatollah Khomeni's funeral:
One of the demonstrators peeled off to rest by the curb, and I edged over to ask him what the mourners were shouting.

'Death to America,' he said.

'Oh.' I reached for my notebook as self-protection and scribbled the Farsi transliteration : Margbar Omrika.

'You are American?' he asked.

'Yes. A journalist.' I braced myself for a diatribe against the West and its arrogant trumpets.

'I must ask you something,' the man said. 'Have you ever been to Disneyland?'

'As a kid, yes.'

The man nodded, thoughtfully stroking his beard. 'My brother lives in California and has written me about Disneyland,' he
continued. 'It has always been my dream to go there and take my children on the tea-cup ride.'

With that, he rejoined the marchers, raised his fist and yelled 'Death to America!' again.
"Liberalism is arbitrarily selective in its choice of whose dignity to champion." Adrian Vermeule

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