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CPOW Weekly Update for April 29, 2013



SUMMARY: USA to compete Iran at “United 4 Wrestling” in Los Angeles, Calif. on May 19… CPOW members Jim Scherr and Stan Dziedzic attend IOC Sport for All Conference in Lima, Peru… Acting President Nenad Lalovic appears at Asian Championships in India, saying that wrestling will be in for the long haul, until it is a core sport at the Olympics again… Brazil Wrestling Federation joins the Save Olympic Wrestling Coalition, increasing number of nations to 24… U.S. lineup announced for Curby Cup in Chicago area on May 11… IOC vice-president Thomas Bach of Germany says Executive Board should be flexible when deciding how many of the 2020 Olympic bid sports are shortlisted… Commisioner Bud Selig says that Major League Baseball won’t change its schedule in order to boost its chances to be included in the Olympic Games… USA Wrestling Kansas makes $3,000 donation to CPOW to support Keep Olympic Wrestling effort… Wrestling parent Jeffrey Fleming completes Boston Marathon wearing wrestling singlet carrying two Save Olympic Wrestling flags… Olympic wrestling champion and entertainment pro wrestler Kurt Angle praises FILA Acting President Nenad Lalovic for his leadership…

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 domestic and international scenes.

International Relations News and Effort

• USA Wrestling and Beat the Streets-Los Angeles, Inc. announced another major event which will be a highlight of World Wrestling Month in May. The United States and Iran will come together in a friendly international wrestling competition Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. at Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Billed “United 4 Wrestling,” the event is sponsored the Semnani Family Foundation, an international humanitarian organization based in Salt Lake City and founded by Khosrow Semnani, a prominent Iranian-American philanthropist. The USA vs. Iran dual meet will feature the current international freestyle wrestling rules. Lineups will be released when available, but is expected to include major international stars from both nations, including Olympic and World medalists. Although their governments do not always agree, the wrestling leaders in these two nations have a strong working relationship. Iran has competed in wrestling in the United States 10 times in recent years. The Iranian team will also compete in New York City on May 15 at Vanderbilt Hall in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in an event also featuring the United States and Russia.

• CPOW members and FILA Bureau members Jim Scherr and Stan Dziedzic of the United States attended the 15th annual IOC Sport for All World Conference in Lima, Peru this past weekend, representing international wrestling and the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling. This conference is officially hosted by the International Olympic Committee, with an aim “to encourage and support the efforts of sharing health and social benefits to be gained by all members of society through regular physical activity.” This initiative is based upon the Olympic charter, which says that “the practice of sport is a human right.”As well as attending the important meetings held during the conference, Scherr and Dziedzic had an opportunity to meet with several IOC members, including some members of the Executive Board, to discuss wrestling’s place in the Olympic program and to share with them the positive changes underway to improve the sport.

• During the Asian Wrestling Championships held in New Delhi, India, Acting FILA President Nenad Lalovic said that his federation was prepared for a long battle even if the sport fails to re-enter the Games. Should wrestling be named as a provisional sport for the Olympics in the voting at the IOC General Assembly in September, Lalovic said that the effort will be far from over. “If we succeed, we again start our struggle on September 8 because we want to become core sport. We are the gods of arena and will never give up,” the 54-year-old Serbian leader said. Since becoming Acting President in mid-February, Lalovic has been travelling the world, leading the effort to retain wrestling in the Olympics. “I made a tour of the planet but what is important for us is to show to the decision makers of the IOC that we can change quickly in a good way and in a way according to their requirements,” he said.

• The Brazilian Wrestling Federation, which will host the 2016 Olympic wrestling competition in Rio de Janeiro, has joined the Save Olympic Wrestling Coalition. The coalition, developed by USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender and other international leaders, is comprised of strategically identified federations that, regardless of geographic or political differences, are unified in a commitment to keeping wrestling on the Olympic program. Pedro Gama Filho, the president of the Brazilian Wrestling Federation and a new member of the FILA Bureau, strongly supports the mission of the Save Olympic Wrestling Coalition. The coalition continues to grow and make an impact on the international scene.

• The U.S. lineup for the Curby Cup, a featured international event during World Wrestling Month, has been announced. The Curby Cup will be hosted at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Ill. on Saturday, May 11 and will feature the Greco-Roman national teams of Hungary, Lithuania, Serbia and the United States. The U.S. team will feature six of the seven 2013 U.S. Open Greco-Roman champions, including three Olympians, two-time Olympian Spenser Mango at 55 kg and 2012 Olympians Ellis Coleman at 66 kg and Ben Provisor at 74 kg. Coleman and Joe Betterman at 60 kg are Chicago natives. The competition is held in honor of the late Jacob Curby, a Greco-Roman Team USA member who unexpectedly passed away at the age of 25 in January 2010.

• IOC vice-president Thomas Bach of Germany said that its Executive Board should be flexible when deciding how many of the 2020 Olympic bid sports will be shortlisted next month at their meeting in St Petersburg. "In my opinion, I don't think we should have an exact number that we should shortlist because I think we should be flexible. If the presentations are good enough and the bid has enough strength, I see no reason why we shouldn't take it through to the next stage,” said Bach. Wrestling is one of eight candidate sports for a single spot on the sports program at the 2020 Olympic Games, along with baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu.

• Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, said that the sport won’t change its schedule in order to boost its chances to be included in the Olympic Games. Baseball was an Olympic medal sport from 1992 to 2008, then was dropped from the 2012 London Games. IOC President Jacques Rogge said that baseball should make its top athletes available, as they are in basketball and hockey. "Look, we can't stop our season in August. We just can't," said Selig. Baseball and softball are among the eight sports which will be evaluated by the IOC Executive Board for recommendation as a provision sport in the 2020 Olympics. Wrestling is also one of the eight sports under consideration by the IOC Executive Board in St. Petersburg, Russia in late May.

United States News and Efforts

• USA Wrestling-Kansas made a tremendous $3,000 donation to CPOW to support the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling, joining other state associations within USA Wrestling who are working daily to help preserve the sport on the Olympic level. At the Kansas State Wrestling Folkstyle Championships on March 29-30 in Topeka, Kan., nearly 1,500 wrestlers in five age divisions came together for one of the most successful state wrestling series in the nation. During the opening ceremonies, the athletes, coaches and leaders posed together for a picture with a 2020 Vision banner, supporting Olympic wrestling. This year’s folkstyle state tournament was the culmination of the Kansas wrestling season for over 9,400 wrestlers and 12 qualifying events. It was the support from these wrestlers, coaches and parents in Kansas which allowed the state association to raise the funds to support the Olympic cause.

• Jeffrey Fleming, the father of four young wrestlers living in Granby, Conn., wanted to make a statement to the world that wrestling should remain an Olympic sport. On April 15, he ran the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon wearing a traditional wrestling singlet, along with two Save Olympic Wrestling flags attached to his backpack. As a wrestling parent, Fleming has great respect for what wrestling does for his kids. “They learned self discipline, sacrifice and perseverance, the very values needed to become great men,” he said. Fleming took the wrestling mindset with hopes of crossing the finish line in four hours. He finished the Boston Marathon in three hours and thirty minutes, 30 minutes faster than his goal, with his family meeting him with outstretched arms at the finish line. Had Jeffrey Fleming finished the race in his expected four hours, he and his family would have been at the finish line moments before the bombing there. Fleming believed that the lessons he learned in wrestling helped after the tragedy. "Through all the panic and chaos that followed, it was the strength and resolve of the wrestler that kept me calm and capable of guiding the ones I love to safety,” he said.

• 1996 Olympic wrestling champion Kurt Angle, who has had a successful career in entertainment professional wrestling, is taking a leadership role in building support for Olympic wrestling. In an interview with one of his hometown newspapers, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he praised FILA Acting President Nenad Lalovic for his efforts on behalf of wrestling. “Thank God we have a president (Nenad Lalovic) that is going to stand up for the sport. He knows what he has to do to bring wrestling back,” said Angle. He is speaking out on behalf of young wrestlers who have the same Olympic wrestling dream he had as a youth in Pennsylvania. “You want to remain in the Olympics so these kids have a goal and a dream,” said Angle.

We ask one thing from the wrestling community. Please stay informed and stay involved. You can do this by registering on www.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.
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