New Jersey natives James Green (Willingboro) and Anthony Ashnault (South Plainfield) will square off in the first announced Team USA vs. NCAA Champions match during the 2019 “Grapple at the Garden” Beat the Streets (BTS) benefit at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 6. The bout between Green, a four-time USA World Team member who earned NCAA All-America honors four times at the University of Nebraska, and Ashnault, the Rutgers graduate senior who last month claimed the NCAA title at 149 pounds, will be part of the 10th annual event, which supports BTS, the largest grassroots inner city wrestling program in the United States. “Grapple at the Garden” serves as both a fundraiser for the organization and to celebrate its athletes as they compete on the biggest stage in the center of the world.
Green, who capped a career at Willingboro HS as the first in school history to win a state title with a perfect 29-0 record in 2011, was also the 2017 US Open champion and two-time World medalist (silver, 2017; bronze, 2015). He was also the Big Ten champion at Nebraska in 2014.
Ashnault, the first-ever four-time state champion and undefeated wrestler in N.J. history (taking titles at 103, 112, 126, 138 lbs. at South Plainfield HS, will also graduate as Rutgers’s only four-time NCAA All-American. The Hodge Trophy finalist completed a perfect 32-0 season, his third Big Ten championship, in March, earning a school record 132 match wins in the process.
“It is especially exciting for area wrestling fans to have two of New Jersey’s greatest ever squaring off in the Beat the Streets benefit,” said Beat the Streets Executive Director Brendan Buckley. “New Jersey continues to produce some of the nation’s top wrestlers, and interest in the sport there is at an all-time high. We’re pleased to be showcasing these two stars just across the Hudson River at the Hulu Theater at MSG.”
Additional matchups in the Team USA vs. NCAA Champions main events will be announced in the coming weeks. Those will be preceded by several youth matches, the first announced late last month, another battle of local State Champions in Jo Jo Aragona (Pope John XXIII HS/New Jersey) vs. Adam Busiello (Eastport-South Manor HS/New York).
Tickets for the evening’s action are available now via TicketMaster, priced starting at $30 at https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/3B005668AA091B69. A variety of donation packages which include “Grapple in the Garden” tickets are also available at https://www.btsny.org/bts-events or by emailing [email protected], beginning at $1000. Doors open on May 6 at 5:30 p.m., with the main event starting at 6 p.m.
For the fifth straight year, FloSports will provide live and on-demand coverage on FloWrestling.com.
Beat the Streets, Inc. will invite select members of the 2018 U.S. Men’s Freestyle World Team, which placed second in the 2018 World Championships and won seven World medals, as well as select top USA women’s wrestlers.
Beat the Streets Benefit competitions, which began in 2010, have since become a major showcase of the best of international wrestling. This unique and electrifying annual event has helped Beat the Streets raise millions of dollars to support local youth wrestling programs which empower young people in New York City.