A few days ago we all got word that the world’s oldest sport, wrestling, was going to be dropped from the Olympics. It shocked the wrestling world to be sure. There is an executive board meeting in May in St. Petersburg, Russia to appeal, and the final decision will be in September.
It is interesting that this foundation-shaking decision was made by so many outside of the sport itself: of the 15 member committee that voted by secret ballot only two members came from countries that actively promote wrestling. Whispers about a conflict of interest with the Modern Pentathlon, which has only 26 countries participating, are turning into shouts. The TV audience for wrestling at the Olympics averaged 23 million viewers. The modern pentathlon averaged 12.5 million.
However, like Y2K and the Mayan calendar that followed it, this is hardly the end of the world.
Wrestling is THE major sport in several countries like Iran, Turkey, Russia, and very big in countries like South Korea, Japan, USA, Bulgaria, Romania, Cuba, Finland, and many more. They are not going to standby without a fight. This ruling will not affect the World Championships, which are held every year except the Olympic year. The title “World Champion” is still the same as Olympic Champion, no matter where we choose to compete.
Yes, wrestling’s standing in the Olympics is a choice, and it is ours to make.
The Olympic decision will not slow us from our quest to bring back fallen NCAA wrestling programs. We are moving ahead with our National Wrestling Restoration Foundation (NWRF), which sustains itself by selling our own “Zero Quit” brand workout gear for teams and individuals, and through donations from you, our supporters. We are currently building endowments that will fund collegiate wrestling teams throughout the country. Every dollar of profit will go to these endowments for both men’s and women’s programs. Like most wrestlers, we will work harder to make our dreams come true. We hope that all wrestling fans will join with us and pass the word about our company to others, because so long as collegiate wrestling thrives, it cannot be ignored. Never underestimate the power of well-educated, tough, stubborn men and women to fight for their convictions.
— Coach Ron Finley