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Beach wrestling comes to Charleston, S.C.

Right now, when much of wrestling country is buried in snow, the idea of hitting the beach this summer has powerful appeal. Even more so when you can put your bare feet in warm, soft sand and compete in the sport you love.

Whether you are still an active competitor in wrestling -- or your mat days were long ago -- make plans now to participate in the first-ever Charleston Beach Brawl at Folly Beach, S.C. on Saturday, June 4. This new USA Wrestling-sanctioned event takes place just one week after the 2016 Beach Wrestling Championships to be held Memorial Day weekend at Carolina Beach in Wilmington, N.C.

The Charleston Beach Brawl will feature separate men's and women's competitions in all age groups and weight classes.

For those not familiar with beach wrestling ... as the name suggests, the action takes place in the sand, not on a traditional wrestling mat. The wrestling area is inside a circle measuring 23 feet across. Action takes place with the wrestlers in the standing position, so there's no ground wrestling.

Kevin Bayer
Scoring is easy to understand, even for the first-time participant or observer. Matches are a single three-minute period or when the first wrestler scores three points, so the action moves quickly. One point is awarded for a takedown or a push-out; two points are given for a takedown where the opponent is taken to his/her back. If there's a tie score at the end of regulation, the last wrestler to score wins the match. If there are no points scored, the winner is determined to be the more aggressive wrestler.

The event is expected to have a relaxed vibe. Wrestlers compete in swimwear, not singlets. No headgear or specialized wrestling shoes are required. (In fact, beach wrestlers compete barefoot.) Even the weight classes are somewhat relaxed. As Kevin Bayer, long-time wrestling coach for Mat Rats Wrestling Club based in South Carolina who is one of the organizers of the Charleston Beach Brawl, told InterMat, "There are no weigh-ins. Instead, we'll have wrestlers line up by size. That way, we'll find natural breaks in terms of size."

"Beach wrestling has been done in Europe for years," according to Bayer, who was a two-time conference champ in his native Colorado who then moved to Connecticut, where he was a state runner-up. "With the threat to Olympic wrestling a couple years ago, the powers-that-be in the sport realized that some folks were confused by wrestling rules. USA Wrestling wanted to encourage ideas to make the sport more accessible. The simple rules and easy-to-follow scoring makes beach wrestling easy for fans and competitors to enjoy."

Kevin Bayer with Mark Dollins
Another point Bayer wanted to emphasize: beach wrestling events such as the Charleston Beach Brawl are an unbeatable opportunity for veteran wrestlers to participate in the sport, going up against competitors of similar age. Bayer, along with fellow event organizer Mark Dollins (who, as a winner of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum's "Ultimate Dan Gable Experience" online auction, was the subject of a 2013 InterMat feature), both continue to wrestle at USA Wrestling-sanctioned events even though they are now in their 50s.

Beach wrestling events at other venues have attracted sizeable crowds curious to see both men and women of all ages compete in the oldest and greatest sport not on a wrestling mat, but in the soft sand.

Note: the Charleston Beach Brawl is a USA Wrestling sanctioned event, so all competitors must have a valid USA Wrestling competitor's card. However, for wrestlers who don't have that card but wish to purchase a membership solely for the purpose of competing in the June 4 event can purchase a temporary card at the Charleston Beach Brawl for $15.

For more information on the Charleston Beach Brawl -- and to register online -- visit the event's website.

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