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CPOW Weekly Update for May 21, 2013
SUMMARY: Lalovic elected FILA President at Extraordinary Congress in Moscow… Wrestling rule changes approved to add excitement to sport… New FILA Constitution approved with more representation for women and athletes… Major international media cover FILA Congress… Grappling and Amateur MMA dropped from FILA program… Rumble On The Rails is a big success in Grand Central Terminal in New York City on May 15… United 4 Wrestling is a big success at the L.A. Sports Arena in Los Angeles on May 19… Major celebrities appear and support wrestling at New York and Los Angeles events… Youth wrestling showcased in both events… NBC covers events in Grand Central Terminal live, and TeamUSA.org has live web stream.. Successful press conference and luncheon hosted at United Nations on May 14, promoting Keep Olympic Wrestling movement… Semnani Foundation holds special event supporting Olympic wrestling at the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 18… Canada announces its lineup for “Battle At The Falls” women’s event at Niagara Falls on May 31…
The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) is issuing a weekly update on Mondays, informing the wrestling community and the general public on its activities.
CPOW is a group of wrestling leaders assembled by USA Wrestling. Its charge is to oversee the effort within the United States to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics, as part of a coordinated international strategy designed to retain wrestling in the Olympics.
Here are the key news items that developed in the last week on the international and domestic scenes. It was a huge week of activity, with two major World Wrestling Month events in New York and Los Angeles and the important FILA Extraordinary Congress in Moscow, Russia.
International Relations News and Effort
• Nenad Lalovic of Serbia was elected as the new President of FILA, the international wrestling federation, as part of the FILA Extraordinary Congress in Moscow, Russia on May 18. Lalovic, who was named as FILA’s Acting President in February after the resignation of former FILA President Raphael Martinetti, challenged leaders of the 111 national wrestling federations which attended, to embrace change in the unified effort to keep wrestling on the Olympic program. The vote to approve Lalovic was 125 for and 7 against, making him the seventh president in the history of FILA. “This is a family, full of those with pride and passion. And Strength. We showed that strength today. And we showed Wisdom. And we showed that we have this opportunity , and like wrestlers on the mat, we are going to take advantage of this chance to score. Today is the first step on the road to continue in the Olympic Games. To continue that dream for all those young men and women,” said Lalovic.
• FILA approved a new set of rules, which will be put in place immediately, starting with any competitions held on Sunday, May 19. There are some differences between Greco-Roman and freestyle, but there were many specific rule changes which affect both styles. They include: Cumulative score for the entire bout; The structure of the match is for two three-minute periods; A takedown is worth two points, making it more valuable than a point for the pushout or a penalty point; There is a difference in what a technical fall will be. In freestyle, it will be a difference of 10 points, while in Greco-Roman, it will be a difference of seven points. Freestyle and Greco-Roman will have different procedures in regards to passivity calls.
• Changes in the FILA constitution included more representation and inclusion of women and athletes in the governance of FILA. As part of the new constitution, at least one woman will become a FILA Vice-President. The new FILA Bureau will include 19 elected members, including three seats reserved for women and three seats reserved for Olympic and/or World Champions. The new FILA Constitution will include 15 different commissions, including some new commissions and a restructuring of some of the existing commissions. Among the new commissions are the Women and Sport Commission and a Sport-for-All Commission. The Athletes Commission will be expanded and revised, providing more input from athletes in the FILA decision-making process.
• For the first time, FILA invited the international media to the FILA Congress, and provided extensive media services support for those in attendance. The decisions reached at the FILA Congress were done in an open and transparent setting for the whole world to see. There were 94 media members from 43 outlets who were accredited for the event. Interviews were provided with FILA leaders after the FILA Bureau meeting on Friday night and after the FILA Congress on Saturday. Included were at least 10 TV networks, four of the largest newspapers in the world, reporters from AP, Reuters, AFP, DPA, Kyodo, TASS and other major news services and media outlets.
• The FILA Congress confirmed the decision of the FILA Bureau for the elimination of Grappling and Amateur Mixed Martial Arts as recognized styles of wrestling under FILA management. Existing contracts for events, such as the upcoming World Championships in Canada, will be honored. However, FILA will not host events in these styles after this year. Pankration and Beach Wrestling will remain as non-Olympic styles of wrestling under FILA’s jurisdiction.
• It was a sellout crowd in historic Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal in New York City, to see The Rumble on the Rails on May 15, as part of World Wrestling Month. Three of the world’s best wrestling nations, the United States, Iran and Russia battled on national television in an event which captured the attention of the world. Major media from around the world attended the event, sending reports on the competition to all corners of the globe. Almost 200 media were accredited for the competition, including major outlets such as the Associated Press, AFP, Reuters, Sports Illustrated, Al Jazeera, BBC, Time Magazine, Bloomberg, ESPN, L’Equipe and the three major newspapers in New York City. Nations represented with media members including the USA, Iran, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain and Turkey
• The first match in New York was a men’s freestyle dual meet, with Iran emerging with a 6-1 victory, edging Team USA on a number of very close matches. The highlight for the USA was the debut of four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, who defeated Hassan Tahmasebi, 2-0, 1-0 at 74 kg/163 lbs. The other matches went to Iran, which were cheered loudly by a small but vocal cheering section of Iranian wrestling fans. The event was televised live on NBC Sports Channel, with a live webcast on TeamUSA.org.
• In the second dual in Grand Central Terminal, it was a great night for Team USA, which won eight of nine matches against Russia in a meet with all three Olympic styles held in historic Grand Central Terminal. The USA men’s freestyle team got things rolling by sweeping all five of their matches, with victories by Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs (74 kg), Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott (60 kg), plus Logan Stieber (60 kg), Brent Metcalf (66 kg) and David Taylor (74 kg). Stieber beat the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the world, Opan Sat. In women’s freestyle 2012 World silver medalist Helen Maroulis beat Junior World silver medalist Irina Kisel at 55 kg/121 lbs. The USA finished off with wins in two of the three Greco-Roman matches, with wins from Kendrick Sanders (66 kg) and Ben Provisor (74 kg). The event was televised live on Universal Sports, and the event was streamed live on TeamUSA.org
• A second amazing World Wrestling Month event, United 4 Wrestling, was held at the L.A. Sports Arena in Los Angeles, Calif. on May 19. International matches between the United States, Russia and Canada were held in both men’s and women’s freestyle wrestling, with a boisterous crowd of 3,500 fans in attendance. This was the first major event in the world which used the new international wrestling rules, which had been approved at the FILA Congress in Moscow the day before. The United States won seven matches, with Russia and Canada winning three matches each. Olympic and World champion Jordan Burroughs of the USA dismantled Russia’s Saba Khubetzhty 14-3 in the day’s final freestyle match at 74 kg/163 lbs. extending his winning streak to 54 matches. Past Junior World medalist and U.S. Open runner-up Jordan Oliver won two bouts, defeating Russia’s Magomed Kurbanliev 7-6 and Olympian Haislan Garcia of Canada 5-2 . Three-time European champion Opan Sat of Russia also scored two victories. World champion Elena Pirozhkova scored a gritty 4-2 win over past Junior World champion Danielle Lappage of Canada in women’s freestyle at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. The U.S. also received wins from men’s freestyle wrestlers Jon Reader (84 kg/185 lbs.) and Chris Pendleton (96 kg/211.5 lbs.) and women’s freestyle wrestler Brittney Roberts at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. The event was streamed live on TheMat.com.
• The two World Wrestling Month events held in New York and Los Angeles attracted a large number of celebrities, major sports figures and past Olympic and World champion wrestlers, adding to the excitement and buzz surrounding each event. In New York, celebrities and major sports figures included Billy Baldwin, Mark Ruffalo, Mike Golic, Kurt Angle, Ronnie Lott, Chael Sonnen, Sara McMann, with Olympic wrestling champions Jordan Burroughs, Kurt Angle, Dan Gable, John Smith, Bruce Baumgartner, Cael Sanderson, Jake Varner and Tom Brands plus World wrestling champions Bill Scherr, Zeke Jones, Clarissa Chun, Les Gutches and Bill Zadick. In Los Angeles, the celebrites and major sports figures included Billy Baldwin, Tom Arnold, Mark Spitz, Carlos Palomino, Armando Muniz, Randy Couture, Chael Sonnen, Urijah Faber, Daniel Cormier and Mark Munoz, plus Olympic wrestling champions Dan Gable, Bruce Baumgartner, John Smith, Henry Cejudo, Brandon Slay and World wrestling champions Stephen Neal, Clarissa Chun, Adeline Gray, Zeke Jones and Les Gutches.
• The United States showed a strong commitment to the development of youth wrestling with exhibition matches for boys and girls during the competitions in Grand Central Terminal in New York City and at the L.A. Sports Arena in Los Angeles. Leading this effort were Beat the Streets, Inc. in New York, as well as Beat the Streets Los Angeles and California USA Wrestling in Los Angeles. There were four youth matches held at both of these events, the young wrestlers who could lose their Olympic dreams if the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort does not reach its goals. The young athletes at both events displayed great enthusiasm and skill, and added considerably to the entertainment value of the presentation.
• A special press conference was hosted on Tuesday at the United Nations, as three of the world’s best wrestling teams, the United States, Iran and Russia, came together for The Rumble On The Rails. A consistent theme of the conversation was the unity between these nations and the rest of the world to help retain wrestling as a sport on the Olympic program. FILA President Nenad Lalovic, who talked about World Wrestling Month in May, said , “seeing the wrestlers in this room that represent the USA, Iran and Russia inspires me to work even harder every day to ensure our great sport remains a part of the Olympic program. CPOW spokesman Mike Novogratz, the chairman of Beat the Streets, Inc. “This benefit each year helps us raise money and raise awareness for wrestling in New York City. This is going to be a big event. We will have great wrestling at the elite level and the high school level. Grand Central Terminal is a neat place to wrestle,” said Novogratz. USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender talked about the Save Olympic Wrestling Coalition. “It became very evident to us immediately that this decision proved one thing; our international federation needed some help. Not just from the Americans, but from the Iranians, the Russians, from wrestling countries all over the world. We quickly formed a coalition.” Iranian head wrestling coach Rasoul Khadem said “Where I come from, wrestling is not just a sport. It is part of culture and history.” Russian Team Leader Christakis Alexandridis said, “ The three strongest teams in the world, the USA, Russia and Iran, will come together to battle and to show the world that wrestling is not only part of sports but a very important part of life for a lot of people,” said Alexandridis. USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones sees more than just a competition this week. “Of course, you will see world-class wrestling. You will also see how the sport of wrestling has evolved, “said Jones.
• Also on May 14, a special luncheon was hosted by CPOW at the United Nations, providing support and information for the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement. Invited to the luncheon were diplomats from the United Nations and well as members of the international media, with many leaders from international wrestling also in attendance. Actor Billy Baldwin served as moderator for the program. In his introduction, Baldwin said that “something clicked all over the world when it was announced that there might not be wrestling at the 2020 Olympics or thereafter. It caused a perfect global storm and emotional reaction on every continent.” Representatives from the Iranian and Russian delegation at the United Nations made statements on behalf of wrestling. CPOW chair Bill Scherr spoke about the efforts of the UN in building peace through sport. “Sport is a basic human right. Sport is a low cost and high impact way and tool to develop humanitarianism, development and peace on the global basis. There is no better partner for the United Nations and for the Olympic movement than wrestling. Wrestling is a sport that has been woven since the beginning of time into the social fabric of nearly every culture on the planet and continues to this day,” said Scherr. FILA President Nenad Lalovic also spoke about wrestling. “It is fitting we are at the United Nations talking about wrestling. The United Nations brings the world together, country by country. Religions, cultures and history are all together here to find common ground and collaborate on common solutions. Wrestling is a United Nations sport. It is practiced in every area of the world, and is the oldest sport,” said Lalovic.
• The Semnani Foundation hosted a function at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel on May 18, the night before the United 4 Wrestling event in Los Angeles. Khosrow Semnani and his family’s foundation led the charge to organize the event in L.A. and were honored at the function. Semnani is very passionate about the sport and effectively conveyed that in a speech during the banquet. Actor Billy Baldwin also delivered an inspirational speech about his commitment to keeping wrestling in the Games. Coaches and athletes from the U.S., Russia and Canada were recognized during the event on Saturday night and coaches for each team spoke about how unified the world has been during this fight to keep the sport in the Olympics.
• Wrestling Canada has announced the Canadian lineup for the “Battle At The Falls,” the women’s freestyle wrestling event in Niagara Falls on May 31st. Canada, the USA and Ukraine will compete in dual meets, in front of one of the world’s iconic locations, Niagara Falls. The Canadian team is strong, led by World champion Jessica McDonald at 51 kg and two-time World bronze medalist Justine Bouchard at 63 kg. All seven of Canada’s Senior national champions will be competing. The team will be led by outstanding coaches Leigh Vierling and Marty Calder along with Tonya Verbeek, a three-time Olympic medalist. The lineups for the United States and Ukraine will be released in the next few days.
We ask one thing from the wrestling community. Please stay informed and stay involved. You can do this by registering on KeepOlympicWrestling.com. We will give you weekly updates on the activities of CPOW and the international wrestling community so you can truly be a part of the solution.