Helen Maroulis defeated Saori Yoshida to win the Olympic gold medal (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
NEW YORK -- For the fifth-consecutive year, Helen Maroulis (Sunkist Kids) will compete in the Beat the Streets Benefit, and it will be the first time she takes the mat in Times Square as an Olympic gold medalist.
Maroulis is the first U.S. women announced as part of the Team USA roster for the 2017 edition of the Beat the Streets Benefit that will be held at Duffy Square (47th St. & 7th Ave.) in New York on May 17. A talented American squad will battle international wrestling power Japan in an 11-match dual meet featuring eight men's freestyle and three women's freestyle matches.
"I do this event for Beat the Streets every year because it's a great way to promote the sport of wrestling and to help fundraise for the children who will learn, grow and benefit from these programs," said Maroulis. "Mike Novogratz and the rest of the Beat the Streets organization do an amazing job, and it's wonderful to be able to wrestle in Times Square in front of all the kids and fans."
Competing at her new weight class of 58 kg/128 lbs., the Rockville, Md. native who is now training in New York at Columbia University's NYC RTC, has been paired against Japan's 2014 World champion Chiho Hamada. The two have previously met three times throughout their respective Senior-level careers. Hamada holds the series edge 2-1 and owns the last win in the series from the 2014 World semifinals where she defeated Maroulis, 6-2.
After dropping the match to Hamada at the 2014 World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Maroulis went on a 64-match win-streak that spanned from September 2014 to March 2017, claiming Olympic and World titles along the way.
In her previous four trips to the Beat the Streets Benefit, Maroulis holds a perfect 4-0 record with all four of her wins coming by either pin or technical fall. Her list of past victories at this event include Samantha Stewart of Canada in 2016, Yamilka del Valle Alvarez of Cuba in 2015, Marcia Andrades of Venezuela in 2014 and Irina Kisel of Russia in 2013.
Maroulis is the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling. In making Olympic history, she defeated three-time Olympic champion and 13-time World champion Saori Yoshida of Japan 4-1 in the 53 kg/116.5 lbs. Olympic finals last August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In addition to her Olympic gold, Maroulis has accumulated three senior World medals: one gold (2015), one silver (2012) and one bronze (2014). She was also a three-time medalist at the Junior World Championships.
Maroulis made women's college wrestling history by winning four WCWA national titles while competing for both Missouri Baptist University and Simon Fraser University. She is one of only three women to win four such titles.
"We couldn't be more excited to have Helen Maroulis return for another year of supporting Beat the Streets in Times Square," said Beat the Streets Chairman of the Board Mike Novogratz. "She has been a great ambassador for our program over the years and her status as an Olympic champion and, more importantly an ideal role model, is a shining example to our student-athletes of what they can achieve in sports and life. We all can't wait to see her on the mat representing the U.S. against one of Japan's top wrestlers."
This year marks the sixth time the Beat the Streets Benefit will be held in Times Square, and the eighth-straight year the world-class event will be contested. It will be the first time Japan has made the trip to the Beat the Streets Benefit, joining a litany of world powers that have participated in previous years including Iran, Russia, Cuba, Korea and Canada. In 2014, a World All-Star team competed against the USA, with athletes from Russia, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Canada, Spain, Venezuela, and Ukraine in the lineup. This has truly become a highlight event on the annual international wrestling schedule.
The only other American that has been selected for the Beat the Streets Benefit to this point is 2016 World champion Logan Stieber who will compete at 61 kg/134 lbs. on the men's freestyle side. The decision on who will join Maroulis and Stieber in New York City will be influenced by the results from the U.S. Open in men's freestyle and World Team Trials in women's freestyle, set for Las Vegas, Tuesday through Saturday.
2017 BEAT THE STREETS BENEFIT
At New York, May 17
3 p.m. (ET) -- Beat the Streets youth exhibition matches
4:45 p.m. (ET) -- NYC PSAL Girls Dual Meet Championships
6 p.m. (ET) -- Team USA vs. Team Japan
Announced Team USA Roster
61 kg/134 lbs. -- Logan Stieber (Columbus, Ohio/Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
58 kg/128 lbs. -- Helen Maroulis, (New York/Sunkist Kids)
Team Japan Roster
57 kg/125.5 lbs. - Rinya Nakamura
61 kg/134 lbs. - Shingo Arimoto
65 kg/143 lbs. - Daichi Takatani
70 kg/154 lbs. - Nobuyoshi Takojima
74 kg/163 lbs. - Sohsuke Takatani
86 kg/189 lbs. - Takahiro Murayama
97 kg/213 lbs. - Koki Yamamoto
125 kg/275 lbs. -- Katsutoshi Kanazawa
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Yuki Irie
58 kg/128 lbs. - Chiho Hamada
69 kg/152 lbs. - Miwa Morikawa
Team Leader - Kosei Akaishi
Freestyle Coach - Shinichi Yumoto
Women's Coach - Ryo Kanehama
About Beat the Streets
The mission of Beat the Streets is to develop the full potential of the urban youth and to strengthen the culture of New York City wrestling. BTS works directly with the New York City Department of Education in a public-private partnership to bring the life changing sport of wrestling to over 3,000 New York City student-athletes to help them achieve their personal and athletic goals. Through the operation of wrestling programs in middle and high schools in the five boroughs, BTS and the DOE provide a safe, positive atmosphere in which disadvantaged and at-risk youth can learn the essential life lessons of grit, personal responsibility and teamwork, physical fitness and nutrition, and life-long learning. The goal of fostering strong, well-rounded student-athletes is delivered through coaching, after-school programs, life skills workshops, and summer camps. More information can be found at www.btsny.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 United World Wrestling, the international wrestling federation. 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. It has over 220,000 members across the nation, boys and girls, men and women of all ages, representing all levels of the sport. Its president is Bruce Baumgartner, and its Executive Director is Rich Bender. More information can be found at TheMat.com