LOS ANGELES -- USA Wrestling and Beat the Streets-Los Angeles, Inc. has announced that the United States and Iran will come together in a friendly international wrestling competition Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. at Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The event will also be a major opportunity for the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement and the 2020 Vision: Wrestling, Keep the Dream Alive campaign. The match is being staged in cooperation with California USA Wrestling.
On Feb. 12, the International Olympic Committee 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 FILA and all 177 nations which participate in wrestling to retain wrestling as an Olympic sport.
Billed "United 4 Wrestling," the event will be a showcase competition as part of World Wrestling Month, which was declared by the international wrestling federation (FILA). "We are elated to bring together these nations in this historic friendly competition," said Beat the Streets-Los Angeles President Andy Barth. "This illustrates how the great sport of wrestling can enable countries from across the world to put aside their differences and create a common bond. 'United 4 Wrestling' will be an event that will demonstrate the broad impact and popularity of wrestling, as a sport, as a tool for diplomacy and as a means to raise funding for the inner-city kids who participate through wrestling in our year-round youth development 'Beat the Streets-Los Angeles' program."
Sponsoring the "United 4 Wrestling" event in Los Angeles is the Semnani Family Foundation, an international humanitarian organization based in Salt Lake City and founded by Khosrow Semnani, a prominent Iranian-American philanthropist. "For hundreds of thousands of Iranian-Americans -- in L.A. and beyond -- the 'United 4 Wrestling' event offers a chance to celebrate and defend wrestling as an Olympic sport and tradition," Semnani said. "Beyond wrestling, these athletes, American and Iranian, embody standards of excellence and a code of sportsmanship that unites us around a culture of fair play. They remind us of the deeper ways in which the Olympic Games bind Iran and America, our ancestral and adopted homelands, as one. Whether it is in philanthropy, sports, medicine, business, culture or education, we Iranian-Americans are more than willing to do our part so that instead of growing up as strangers, future generations of Iranians and Americans can benefit from more of these people-to-people exchanges."
The USA vs. Iran dual meet will feature the current international freestyle wrestling rules. Lineups will be released when available.
Tickets for "United 4 Wrestling" will be available at www.ticketmaster.com beginning. May 1.
"United 4 Wrestling" will follow on the heels of an event Wednesday, May 15 at Vanderbilt Hall in New York's Grand Central Terminal involving the United States, Iran and Russia, three of the world's best wrestling nations. Since the IOC announcement, these three nations have worked closely together to help support Olympic wrestling. Although their governments do not always agree, the wrestling leaders in these nations have a strong working relationship.
Sports competition between the United States and Iran has been an example of how wrestling transcends politics and cultural differences. Iran has competed in wrestling in the United States 10 times in recent years, including two competitions in New York City. This included the 1995 World Championships in Atlanta, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and 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, Tenn.; 1998 in Stillwater, Okla.; 1999 in Spokane, Wash.; 2000 in Fairfax, Va. and 2001 in Baltimore, Md.).
USA Wrestling sponsored the first American sports team to compete in Iran after an absence of nearly 20 years, when a U.S. freestyle wrestling team competed in the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran. In total, the USA has wrestled in Iran 11 times, including the historic 1998 tour.
"It is an exciting opportunity for wrestling to show the world its ability to bring together nations of different political, cultural and geographic backgrounds," said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. "We are excited to participate in World Wrestling Month, and pleased to partner again with California USA Wrestling and Beat the Streets-Los Angeles to bring wrestling to new heights. I would also like to extend my thanks and thanks from all those involved in wrestling to the Semnani Family Foundation. Their philanthropy and charitable spirit serve as an example to all."
"This being a unique visit to Los Angeles by the Iranian wrestling team and because of the large Iranian-American population in Southern California, this event will provide one of the most compelling showcase settings our sport has ever had," said Duane Morgan, state chairman, California USA Wrestling.
TENTATIVE "UNITED 4 WRESTLING" SCHEDULE:
At Los Angeles, May 19
2 p.m. -- USA vs. Iran, at Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
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 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 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.