The amateur wrestling world has spent the last two weeks planning and rallying from the decision the International Olympic Committee made to remove the founding sport from the Games starting in 2020, and one of their big rallying points could again be in New York in May. According to international reports, talks have begun to have the US elite wrestlers face Iran in New York — perhaps in Times Square — in May as a show of global support for the sport.
The New York foundation “Beat The Streets” has held a mega-wrestling event in Times Square each of the last two years to raise money for inner city programs, and last year had the US Olympic team defeat a Russian elite team, with eventual gold medalist Jordan Burroughs of New Jersey headlining the event.
This year “Beat The Streets” has sent out “save the date” cards for a May 16 event in Grand Central Station, but no details have been forthcoming. On a conference call with the media Thursday, USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender said that there was overwhelming support for a series of potential events, but that nothing has been finalized yet.
“The support we have seen not just from Iran, but from Russia, Cuba, many nations, has been amazing, and we are going through the process of figuring out what those next steps will be that will help not just the US but our sport overall,” he said. “There are lots of ideas being talked about, and we are taking some time to see which can be the most impactful and also the most realistic, but we should have news to announce on such an event very soon.”
There are several critical dates in May for wrestling to present to the IOC, and the potential New York event, which could be part of others around the globe promoting the sport, would come right before the Sport Accord Convention in St. Petersburg, Russia, where all members of the IOC will hold meetings.
Wrestling has been a core sport on the Olympic programme since the founding of The Games, and many were shocked by the IOC decision earlier this month. USA Wrestling officials also said over $1 Million has already been pledged to go to marketing and other programs to enhance the sport and return it to Olympic status.