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LOS ANGELES, March 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When Rulon Gardner pulled off the surprise upset of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney to win the Gold in wrestling, little did he know that today, his beloved sport would be in jeopardy. Last month, the sport of wrestling, the oldest in Olympic history, was booted out of future Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), beginning in 2020.
"That was a black day for wrestling," said Gardner, who appeared recently on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. "Youngsters around the world have taken up the sport of wrestling for decades. This IOC decision tampers with the rich tradition and centuries of the sport, and will deprive youth from almost two hundred countries, a shot at the Olympics – and maybe even to change their lives."
"Wrestling is an original sport since the dawn of the Olympics. The trickledown effect of the IOC's decision at high schools and colleges, and countries where wrestling is one of only a few sports available to youth, will be shocking," said Gardner. "Olympic wrestling keeps the sport healthy to the grass-roots level," he said. "Young wrestlers deserve to dream of being Olympic champions."
Wrestling benefits athletes from other sports, including football. Hall of Fame football Coach John Madden, has said, "I would have all of my offensive linemen wrestle if I could." What Madden was referring to was that those who play football and want to become better at the sport should think about adding wrestling to their athletic resume. They won't only have an edge on physical skills, but wrestling teaches self-control, discipline, ambition, perseverance and dedication.
"This is the last round of a title match," Gardner continued. "If we don't fight this, we're going to lose the sport, constituting a betrayal of the Olympic soul and the future of 100,000s of young wrestlers around the world."
The IOC executive board meets in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide whether wrestling is reinstated. The final vote will be at the IOC general assembly, in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
David Chavez, President & CEO of ProsportsMVP
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