InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley answers reader questions about NCAA wrestling, international wrestling, recruiting, or anything loosely related to wrestling. You have until Thursday night every week to send questions to Foley's Twitter or email account.
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The United 4 Wrestling event in LA attracted 3,500 fans (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)Wrestling has never looked better. From the wild success of Rumble on the Rails, to the last-minute heroics that defined the salvation and execution of United 4 Wrestling ever, the cause to save Olympic wrestling had a stellar week in terms of dollars raise, media attention, and showmanship aimed at impressing the IOC.
The success of the event wasn't just a much-needed media boost here at home, but a well-timed international publicity coup that corresponded with FILA's Extraordinary Congress. Not only was the media forced to write 1,000-word missives on the innate diplomatic successes of the sport, but also the gains made by a governing body eager to make sweeping changes. There is a long way to go, but if the response of the IOC's Jaques Rogge is an indication, the Congress and President Lalovic did more than enough to impress the executive committee.
More needs to be done to spotlight the positive effect wrestling has on women and ethnic minorities in developing countries. If wrestling makes the journey to Buenos Aires we will need to see programs developed to not just profile these individuals, nations and causes, but to make sure they are financially supported. In fact, FILA already operates a Colorado Springs-like facility in Dakar, Senegal that draws in the top six wrestlers from Sub-Sahara Africa to train under the tutelage of a World champion coach -- many of whom are women. FILA, under roi fainéant Raphael Martinetti, did little to sponsor this type of outreach. Under Lalovic that will change, as their PR efforts will be improved and their commitment to the global reach of wrestling expanded and promoted.
The wrestling community shouldn't become complacent. We are still weak in many areas and have to do much, much more to adapt our sports to modern times. We need to fix our uniforms in America and abroad, we need to further increase the number of women involved in the sport, and we need better coverage for international events.
Oh, and one of you enterprising young readers needs to reach out with the idea of a takedown-only wrestling league. Send me the basics and I'll help you mold that sucker into an attention-grabbing style that would be internationally successful and the next discipline of the soon-to-be-rescued sport of Olympic wrestling.
To your questions ...
Q: Do you think it would have made sense to invite several members of the Mexican wrestling team to participate in the Beat the Streets event held in LA last week? I know the Mexican team isn't very good, and two of their last three Olympians were born and raised in the U.S., but Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the United States, and LA County is 48% Hispanic. If USA Wrestling wants to "beat the streets" in the southwest part of the country they might want some help putting a familiar looking face on the product they are selling.
-- Dan K.
Foley: The Mexican team is a little weak, but there were serious efforts put towards making contact with members of their national team. In the end, time became the primary consideration and the event couldn't afford another no-show. I've been told that next year's event will capitalize on the local demographics.
I should also mention that there were plenty of interesting ideas being offered up by interested parties. Without consulting them, I suggested flying in Turtogtokh and Ugi from Mongolia. Ended up that there was little to no chance they would have made it in time. It's a shame, but understandable since my flight from Ulaanbaatar last week was delayed for 36 hours.
Can't overstate how impressive it was that CPOW, Beat the Streets-LA and USA Wrestling were able to salvage the event. Very cool stuff.
Q: Do you think Logan Stieber has the tools and skills to be the next four-time NCAA champ?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: YES! Stieber beat Opan Sat of Russia, the world's No. 1 wrestler at the Rumble on the Rails. On the college mats he seems unchallenged and has the type of focus and certainty of skill that convinces me he can win two more titles without dropping a match.
Q: So Jordan Burroughs is 54-0 on the senior level. I believe this is the best starting record of any U.S. wrestler's international career. Has anyone else started out going undefeated for this long? Does anyone else have a comparable streak? John Smith?
-- Danny C.
Foley: No comparable streak comes to mind outside of the longer runs by both Alexander Karelin and Saori Yoshida.
Karelin's number hasn't been accurately recorded, though it was 13 years long, and could be estimated at well north of 200 straight victories.
Saori YoshidaRegarding Yoshida, according to Wikipedia, "Until January 20, 2008, Yoshida had never lost an international match at the senior level and held a streak of 119 consecutive victories (until) American Marcie Van Dusen defeated her, 2-0 during the Team World Cup series in Beijing, China." She also went on to have another 58-match winning streak, which was then broken, but didn't preclude her from winning her third Olympic gold medal in 2012.
Burroughs is the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the world today. His streak is the longest in the sport and he seems untouchable under the new rules, but it's important to remember that he will, at some point, lose a match. It might be a bad call. It might be to a teammate that has spent years training with him. Hell, it might even come due to injury, but streaks are meant to end and like Karelin's and Yoshida's it won't be only sad -- it'll be a moment for reflection and a celebration of greatness.
No kidding, you have to check out FILA on Facebook. I've been helping them build their presence, and there are plenty of awesome photos and videos on their page. Like 'em and be sure to engage with the product. This WILL directly help our cause for reinstatement.
Few examples of articles and photo essays I've done for FILA over the past month. Share them!
African Traditional Wrestling
Profile of FILA President Nenad Lalovic
Somebody got the message that Wrestling is Everywhere, (WrestlingEverywhere.com) and maybe lifted some footage from WrestlingRoots.org. Cool video.
Q: I really like your ideas about making the sport of wrestling more understandable. With that in mind, has anyone thought about lining up our weight classes with MMA (lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, etc.)?
-- Dave in Norfolk
Foley: FILA, at the behest of the IOC, has decided to eliminate their support of grappling and amateur MMA after the 2013 championships. That separation means they need to grow a distance between themselves and these disciplines. Support for MMA and grappling has ALWAYS been an issue between FILA and the IOC. Always.
From French wrestling historian Guy Jaouen:
The inaugural international Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896 included a small wrestling meet, commonly and incorrectly referred to in history books as Greco Roman style -- which is absolutely wrong.Q: Where is the line? FILA may recommend going to six weights to appease the IOC. Let's remember there used to be 10. Is there a point when being in the Olympics is a loss?
The style of wrestling at these Games was actually arranged in a dirt pit at one end of the Panathenaic Stadium under local Greek rules, called Palema, which had effectively been trialled at the predecessor events of the IOC Olympics, or the Zappas Olympic Games. Not surprisingly, leg takedowns were permitted in these competitions. The Zappas Olympics were held in Athens in 1859, 1870 and 1875 and there is even a thorough sporting record kept of champions at these events. The next IOC Olympics were held in Paris in 1900 as part of the Exposition Universelle and were such a debacle that they did not even include a wrestling meet. Apparently no amateur wrestlers could be found because one of the highlights of the Exposition was the Professional Greco Roman World Championship, which was being held at the same time. The 1904 Olympic Games were then moved across the Atlantic to the USA city of St. Louis as part of the World's Fair and just as in Athens the wrestling was conducted under the rules of the most popular local style, Catch as Catch Can wrestling. The European's were offended because nearly all the wrestling medals were won by Americans.
The following year the "Deutsche Athleten-Verband" was formed in Duisburg, in true German fashion they took command of all amateur Greco-Roman wrestling and weightlifting competitions in continental Europe. The DAV conducted an amateur Greco Roman World Championships from 1904 till 1913 but after WW1 the IAWF (now FILA) took over the event.
The 1906 Intercalated Olympics returned to Athens and despite protests against it, the wrestling was once again held under the now extinct Greek Palema rules (freestlye). At the 1908 London Olympics an attempt was made to run concurrent competitions in both Greco Roman and Catch as Catch Can at the White City Stadium but this didn't stop the growing sense of rivalry between the popular styles.
By the time of the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, only Greco-Roman wrestling competitions were permitted to be held and in a further sub to the organizers of Catch as Catch Can, demonstrations of the Icelandic folk wrestling style called Glima were also conducted. The following year there were plans to create an international body just for wrestling but this was put on hold as it had instead morphed into the "Internationaler Verband fur Schwerathletik" that included not just Greco-Roman wrestling but also Weight Lifting, Boxing and Tug of War, once again with the exclusion of the Anglophone Catch as Catch Can style.
The Great War prevented an Olympics in 1916 and stifled any further developments but at the first post war 1920 Antwerp Games & IOC Conference it was decided that each sport should have its own international body and that the International Amateur Wrestling Federation (FILA) should conduct tournaments in the two popular international styles, Greco Roman and Catch as Catch Can, the latter having its rules modified and name changed to Freestyle to apparently make it more appealing as a global sport, or at least not offend the Europeans anymore. All of the submission finishes that gave Catch as Catch Can its unique character were forbidden and the 3-second supine pinfall was replaced by a supine touch fall the same as in Greco Roman.
Outside of the control of FILA in the USA, Catch as Catch Can wrestling further evolved into two separate offshoots, the performance art called professional wrestling and the competitive scholastic sport of collegiate folkstyle wrestling.
-- Matt C.
Foley: We have to accommodate for women's wrestling. Don't like it? Too bad. Equality is necessary, and if we improve our product, specifically the dreadfully boring Greco-Roman style, then we can have more medals.
Q: Cael Sanderson after winning four NCAA championships went on to win an Olympic gold medal and now is a successful coach. Do you think Kyle Dake will have such a career after winning four NCAA titles? Why or why not?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: I find it difficult enough to predict winners and losers on a weekly basis, much less the possible future coaching talents of current wrestlers.
My instinct is that he'll stay committed to wrestling through 2016 and become a coach after he meets his on-the-mat needs. After that, he'd certainly be a great addition to any staff, and possibly, one day, a head wrestling coach.
Rant of the Week!
Q: Hey, you need to start calling out wrestlers/wrestling styles too. Why on earth is Kyle Dake being promoted as some savior? His style is so BORING!! Last week in NYC just showed what he did his entire college career. Attempt no shots and go to overtime. Yawn! I'm done promoting wrestling if that is what is considered wrestling.
-- Steve M.
Keep this family in your thoughts:
Jonathan Kaloust, a Navy Seal and former wrestler at Binghamton died last week during a training exercise in Fort Knox, Ky. He was 23.