U.S., Iran and Russia Join Forces to Save Olympic Wrestling

 

The United States, Russia and Iran wrestling teams are preparing to meet Wednesday, May 15, 2013, for an historic exhibition in New York that will be televised live by the NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports.

Yes, you read that right. The unlikely three amigos—U.S., Russia and Iran—are using their combined weight to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to keep the sport in the Games.

In February, the IOC recommended that wrestling be dropped from the Olympic program starting in 2020. Wrestling now has to plead its case May 29 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In this photo from the 2012 Olympics are from left: Silver medalist Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi, from Iran; gold medalist Jordan Ernest Burroughs, from the United States; bronze medalist Soslan Tigiev, from Uzbekistan; and bronze medalist Denis Tsargush, from Russia, who participated in the men's 74-kg freestyle wrestling competition.

Associated Press Reporter Luke Meredith, who covers Olympic wrestling, leads a recent story on the countries joining forces this way:

“The governments of the United States and Russia can sometimes be at odds. Americans and Iranians rarely see eye to eye on anything. But the possibility of wrestling losing its Olympic spot has given these three often-divergent nations a cause to rally around. The U.S., Russian and Iranian wrestling teams will meet on Wednesday for an historic exhibition in New York. It’s a showcase event for what the sport’s international governing body has dubbed ‘World Wrestling Month.’”

Meredith points out that the Americans have won more Olympic medals in wrestling than any other country. Meanwhile, the Russians won 11 medals at the 2012 London Olympics, including four golds, when no other nation claimed more than six medals. And, Meredith writes that it has often been said that wrestling is the national sport of Iran, which won three golds in London and had the most boisterous fans of any nation.

The world’s top 10 wrestling nations began developing a strategy to save wrestling’s Olympic status in Tehran a week after the IOC’s blow. Tehran happened to be hosting the first major meet of the year, the World Cup. FILA, the sport’s international governing body, will meet again in Moscow on Saturday, May 18, 2013, to discuss major changes designed to improve wrestling’s standing with the IOC.

To read more on the historic New York wrestling exhibition, known as “The Rumble on the Rails,” read Meredith’s article in the knoxnews.com. You also can read AP’s Rachel Cohen’s article on Yahoo! News.

You can follow Luke Meredith on Twitter @LukeMeredithAP. The Associated Press sports writer focuses on the Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones and Olympic wrestling.

 

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