Voices from Russia

Thursday, 16 May 2013

USA Ready to “Rumble” in the Squared Circle with Iran and Russia… Ura for ‘Rassling


Svetlana LipatovaRussian wrestler… ‘rassling ain’t just for guys any more  More and more women are ‘rassling… the IOC pissed on them, too. Keep ‘rassling IN the Olympics where it belongs… keep political correctness OUT. 


The USA wrestled with Russia over the war in Syria, missile defence, human rights, and adoptions. Both countries wrestled with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. Now, the three nations are wrestling… just to wrestle, in a rare partnership designed to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to eliminate wrestling from the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. “The Rumble on the Rails” takes place Wednesday when the American wrestling team battles Iran in one match, and, then, Russia at the main hall of New York’s historic Grand Central Terminal. “Rumble” is part international exhibition and part charitable fundraiser, but the focus is on whether the IOC will be watching… and, perhaps, reconsidering its unexpected recommendation to scrap Olympic wrestling.

In February, the IOC’s executive board recommended that wrestling not be included in the 2020 Summer Olympics, a move that’d eliminate a sport that’s endured from the ancient Olympic Games through every modern Olympic competition since the movement’s revival in 1896. USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender said in a statement, “It became very evident to us immediately that this decision proved one thing… our international federation needed some help. Not just from the Americans, but from the Iranians, the Russians, from wrestling countries all over the world. Therefore, some of the best wrestling nations in the world will compete on one of the most unique stages in the history of the sport, for a unique purpose, which is to maintain our presence on the Olympic programme”.

There are eight sports vying for one slot in the 2020 Summer Games. The IOC board meets in Russia on 29 May to determine a short list of sports that could be chosen, with a final decision expected in September. Russian Team Leader Christakis Alexandridis said in a statement, “The three strongest teams in the world, the USA, Russia, and Iran, will come together to battle and to show the world that wrestling isn’t only part of sports, but a very important part of life for a lot of people”.


Russia, Iran, and the USA… rivals on the world stage… joined together in an unlikely alliance Wednesday inside New York’s Grand Central Terminal train station for a wrestling exhibition to try and save their sport from being dropped in the Olympics. The athletes competed against each other on the mat Wednesday, but were united against a common foe… the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose executive board has recommended that wrestling be eliminated beginning with the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The “Rumble on the Rails” event served as a fundraiser for New York-area youth wrestling programmes, but it also had the purpose of putting an international spotlight on the IOC’s proposal, which shocked the wrestling world when the IOC made it in February. Russian Federation team member Soslan Ramonov, who took part in one of the matches, said, “There are millions of kids all over the world who’re involved in wrestling. In any type of sport, the ultimate goal is to reach the Olympic Games. That’s a dream for so many kids. To deprive them of having that dream come true, that’s a crime”.

Security was tight at the event, with New York Police anti-terrorism officers manning the train station’s entrance, and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling the venue. The event filled Vanderbilt Hall, a large open space inside the terminal, dwarfed only by the station’s enormous main hall next door. Bleachers were set up for fans from all three nations, and a contingent of Iranian supporters waived their nation’s flag and cheered on their team. Members of New York’s Russian community were less boisterous than the Iranians were, but no less enthusiastic. Grigori Lukiyantsev, who works at the Russian Federation mission to the UN, said, “I think it’s a wonderful display of sportsmanship and friendship”. Moreover, as to wrestling’s future, he cited history, noting, “It’s been part of the Olympics since ancient times. So, you really can’t imagine the Olympics without wrestling”.

In fact, wrestling’s Olympic heritage does go back that far. Historians say it was part of the original ancient Greek games dating from around 700 BC. American film actor Billy Baldwin, who wrestled as a student through high school and college, attended the event, and called preservation of Olympic wrestling a matter of social justice, saying, “This isn’t some kind of elitist sport you can only play with a horse and a polo mallet. Wrestling is part of life in second and third world countries. All you need is two guys and a plot of land, and let’s go”.

American team member Kyle Dake said that the camaraderie on display didn’t surprise him, observing, “We’re a brotherhood. We know what each other goes through to get where we are. I know those Iranians are working their tails off just like I am, and those Russians are doing the same”. Iran beat the USA 6-1 in the exhibition matches, and the USA prevailed against Russia 8-1. However, the result everyone’s focused on comes in two weeks, when the IOC, meeting in Russia, narrows down the list of eight sports including wrestling that are vying for a single open spot in the 2020 Summer Olympics. Then, they’d make a final decision on wrestling’s fate as an Olympic sport in September.

Dan Elias

15 May 2013




Editor’s Note:

The three ‘Rassling Superpowers (Iran, Russia, and the USA) will be hard to overcome. You see, wrestling has ALWAYS been part of the Olympics. You could no more have a real Olympics without ‘rassling than you could have a grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese. It’s IMPOSSIBLE. Wrestling is part of the core of the Olympic ethos, along with athletics (track n’ field in the USA) and running. Everything else is mere commentary… the ‘rasslers, the runners, and the pentathlon athletes have always been the heart of the Olympic movement… nothing against other sportsmen, but that’s what is.

Keep ‘rassling in the Olympics where it belongs… who knows, if we can do that, they could bring back the pankration! Now, that would be a pip, wouldn’t it?




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