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IOC wrestling decision puzzling at best

February 18, 2013
Estherville Daily News

The International Olympic Committee's decision last Tuesday to relegate wrestling to the rear of a list of sports guaranteed a berth in future Summer Olympics has a lot of people scratching their heads - around the globe.

From Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to Rep. Steve King, to Russian wrestling federal head Alexander Mamiashvili to Russian President Vladimir Putin, there's strong opposition to the committee's decision.

Now wrestling will have to complete with baseball and softball, squash, karate, wakeboarding, sport climbing, roller sports and wushu - a martial art - for a berth in the 28-sport program in the 2020 Olympics.

The decision is indeed strange.

All one has to do is look at a 2,000-plus year-old Grecian urn or mural to realize the importance of wrestling to the Olympics - wrestling, along with running and the javelin - were the main sports in the first olympics.

When the Olympics were first held from 776 B.C. to A.D. 393, it was to celebrate the athleticism and beauty of the human form. When the Olympics were reincarnated with the founding of the International Olympic Committee in 1894, it was in the spirit of those same games - of which wrestling was a crucial and integral part.

Iowa has a rich and storied wrestling history. Iowa State University alone has five gold medalists: Glen Brand, 1948; Dan Gable, 1972; Ben Peterson, 1972; Kevin Jackson, 1992; and Cael Sanderson, 2004.

Right here in Estherville, Victor de Jesus was a two-time national champion for Iowa Lakes Community College.

Relegating wresting to a "fringe sport" is not only questionable - it's ridiculous.

It's not only a slap in the face of wrestlers worldwide. It's also a slap in the face of the first olympians.



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