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|Entertainers, athletes endorse 'United 4 Wrestling' match between U.S. and Iran|
By Damian Secore BZA
LOS ANGELES – For the first time in more than 30 years, the U.S. and Iranian Olympic wrestling teams will compete head-to-head in a historic dual match designed to focus attention on the global campaign to keep wrestling in the Olympics.
Actor Billy Baldwin, who is partnered with USA Wrestling’s Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW), has formed a strong team from the entertainment and sports industries to support Olympic wrestling and “United 4 Wrestling,” a friendly international wrestling dual meet between the USA and Iran on Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
“United 4 Wrestling,” sponsored by the Semnani Family Foundation, is paired with a similar wrestling event in New York City held on May 15 at Grand Central Station.
Baldwin has gained the endorsements of his brother, Alec Baldwin, and celebrity friends such as actors Ashton Kutcher, Matthew Modine, Nate Parker, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, Steve Buscemi and Tom Arnold, comedian Jay Mohr, entertainment show host Mario Lopez, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) athletes Chael Sonnen and Randy Couture, and former NFL player Mike Golic to join him in his mission to keep wrestling as a core sport in the Olympics beyond 2016 alongside USA Wrestling’s Keep Olympic Wrestling movement and the 2020 Vision: Wrestling, Keep the Dream Alive campaign.
The Keep Olympic Wrestling campaign is also supported through public service announcements by past Olympians Mark Spitz, Janet Evans, Anton Apollo Ohno, Landon Donovan, Tommy Lasorda, Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, and retired boxers Carlos Palomino and Armando Muniz.
Billy Baldwin’s passion for wrestling was born through his upbringing. He wrestled for his high school in Massapequa, N.Y. and for two years at Binghamton (N.Y.) University. He's now using his voice to create a platform with USA Wrestling in helping to persuade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep wrestling in the Olympics.
“Wrestling has been a life-long love of mine and it taught me life values such as self-discipline and a strong work ethic, which serve all of us well in our everyday endeavors,” Billy Baldwin said. “Wrestling was a sport in the first ancient Greek Olympic Games and first Modern Olympics, and because of its rich history and the way it resonates with its fan base throughout the world, I believe it has earned the right to always be a part of the Olympics. I’m excited about the USA-Iran dual coming to Los Angeles to display what the Olympic wrestling culture is all about.”
CPOW was formed in the wake of the IOC’s recent recommendation that wrestling be left out of the Olympics as a core sport beginning in 2020 and, with Billy Baldwin’s help, is organizing a series of public service announcements and activities on behalf of USA Wrestling.
On Feb. 12, the IOC Executive Board made a recommendation that wrestling not be a core sport at the 2020 Olympic Games. A final decision on the program of the 2020 Olympics will be made by the entire IOC in September. A worldwide effort has been launched by the international wrestling federation (FILA) and all 177 nations which participate in wrestling to support the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement through www.KeepWrestlingInTheOlympics.com, www.facebook.com/officialkeepwrestlingintheolympics on Facebook and @wrestlingvision on Twitter.
Tickets for “United 4 Wrestling” are available at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com, and by charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. The LA Sports Arena box office (3939 South Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90037) is open weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and is located on the south side of the arena, adjacent to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Three levels of ticket pricing are offered and start as low as $13, to $23 for mid-level seating, to $63 for seats closest to the floor.
The USA and Iranian lineups are filled with past Olympic and World Championship medalists for the “United 4 Wrestling” dual meet in Los Angeles, making this truly a match featuring many of the world’s best wrestlers.
“United 4 Wrestling” is sponsored by the Semnani Family Foundation, an international humanitarian organization based in Salt Lake City and founded by prominent Iranian-American philanthropist Khosrow Semnani, and is being staged in cooperation with California USA Wrestling and Beat the Streets – Los Angeles.
Since the 1990s, Iran has competed in wrestling in the United States 10 times, but not in Southern California. This included the 1995 World Championships in Atlanta, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the 1998 Junior World Championships in Primm, Nev., the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York City and the 2003 World Championships in New York City. In addition, the Iranian team competed in the World Cup held in the United States five times (1995 in Chattanooga, 1998 in Stillwater, 1999 in Spokane, 2000 in Fairfax, Va. and 2001 in Baltimore).
ABOUT USA WRESTLING
USA Wrestling is the National Governing Body for the Sport of Wrestling in the United States and, as such, is its representative to the United States Olympic Committee and the International Wrestling Federation FILA. Simply, USA Wrestling is the central organization that coordinates amateur wrestling programs in the nation and works to create interest and participation in these programs. Its president is James Ravannack, and its Executive Director is Rich Bender.
ABOUT KEEP OLYMPIC WRESTLING
In the United States, the official website is http://www.KeepWrestlingInTheOlympics.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/officialkeepwrestlingintheolympics, and on Twitter @wrestlingvision.
The international links for FILA are http://www.fila-official.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/fila.official and on Twitter @FILA_Official.
ABOUT BEAT THE STREETS–LOS ANGELES
Beat the Streets – Los Angeles cultivates youth development in underserved communities by encouraging a desire for excellence, respect, teamwork, leadership, integrity and perseverance through the instruction of quality wrestling programs. Together with public support, BTS-LA strives to enhance young men and women’s lives in school, sports and community. More information can be found at www.beatthestreets-la.org
ABOUT CALIFORNIA USA WRESTLING
California USA Wrestling is the national governing body for the sport of wrestling in the state of California and, as such, is its representative to USA Wrestling. Simply, California USA Wrestling is the central organization that coordinates amateur wrestling programs in the State of California, and works to create interest and participation in these programs. California USA Wrestling is a non for profit 501(c)3 corporation. California USA Wrestling has more than 19,000 members. These members include athletes of all ages, coaches, officials, parents and fans striving together to strengthen the sport. Each year, California USA Wrestling charters over 400 wrestling clubs and sanctions over 200 local, state, competitions.
ABOUT SEMNANI FAMILY FOUNDATION
The Semnani Family Foundation focuses on tackling questions of global health, poverty and disaster relief, with particular emphasis on protecting women and children. During the past 20 years, the foundation has collaborated with more than 550 non-profit organizations in projects ranging from famine and earthquake relief to the establishment of vaccination programs and health clinics.
Media contact: USA Wrestling, Craig Sesker, firstname.lastname@example.org, 719-640-5815
Brener Zwikel & Associates, Inc., Toby Zwikel, email@example.com, 818-462-5599