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Bill Scherr, Rep. Jim Jordan, Dan Gable & Jordan Burroughs at CPOW press conference at NCAAs
CPOW Chairman Bill Scherr, a World champion and Olympic medalist in wrestling, talks to the media about the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort. Tony Rotundo photo
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW), the group formed by USA Wrestling to lead the U.S. effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling, hosted a press conference alongside the NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships on Friday.
Four leaders who are working on the international effort to retain wrestling in the Olympic Games made statements and answered questions from the media, providing updates and perspective on the cause.
This committee was formed on Feb. 12 after the International Olympic Committee Executive Board recommended that wrestling not be a core sport at the 2020 Olympic Games.
CPOW chairman Bill Scherr gave an update on the progress of the effort, and provided information and perspective about what to expect in the upcoming months as the International Olympic Committee makes its final decisions about the 2020 Olympic program.
There are two key votes that will impact this decision, an IOC Executive Board meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia in May and the IOC General Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina in September.
“We have gotten off to a great early start. This committee was formed when this bombshell was dropped on the international wrestling community, with the recommendation of the Executive Board of the IOC that wrestling be dropped as a core sport. We quickly formed a group. Within days, this coalition of like-minded individuals formed by USA Wrestling, was able to influence the international wrestling federation. A member of our committee, FILA First Vice President Stan Dziedzic was influential in getting the FILA Bureau to vote no confidence in its current leadership, President Raphy Martinetti. He resigned his presidency and they appointed an acting president, Nenad Lalovic. Martinetti was a roadblock and he led the demise of wrestling. We needed new leadership and we got new leadership. That is the first and most important impact we have had,” said Scherr.
“That new leadership is now willing to work with the IOC to get back into the core program. Make no mistake about it. We vehemently disagree with the decision of the IOC. But, also make no mistake, the fault lies with the leadership of wrestling and not the process or the individuals of the IOC. We want to be part of that process. We want to be part of the Games. We are going to work with them to make sure we are doing everything we can to get into that program,” he said.
Scherr was an Olympic bronze medalist and World Champion in freestyle wrestling and an NCAA champion for Nebraska. He was a leader within Chicago 2016, the organization which led Chicago’s bid to host the Olympic Games.
U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan (OH-R) gave an update on the effort for a Congressional resolution supporting wrestling in the Olympic Games.
“From the day that it happened, in Ohio, in our district, no matter where I am, someone comes up and talks to me about this crazy decision. We have a resolution that is bi-partisan. Dave Loebsack, a good Iowa from the other side of the aisle, is the lead sponsor. I am the co-sponsor along with Tim Walls from Minnesota. We have strong bi-partisan support for wrestling, talking about the great history it has in this country and around the world. It is strong. You are seeing it and feeling it. This is one of those issues where party lines aren’t a problem. We are working together to protect the sport and make sure it remains in the Olympic Games,” said Jordan
Jordan also released a letter to IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge, signed by Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and five other Congressmen, encouraging the IOC to reconsider its choice and vote to continue wrestling in the Olympic Games.
Click here to read letter to IOC President Rogge from seven U.S. Congressmen
Jordan was a two-time NCAA champion for Wisconsin and a top Olympic hopeful in freestyle wrestling before he entered private life and political leadership.
Wrestling legend Dan Gable, an Olympic champion and Olympic coach and an icon in the state of Iowa, is a member of CPOW. He talked about the current situation facing wrestling.
“We have some great organizations which are sensitive to the issues. A lot of them have worked hard to try to figure out how to make things work out. That is where we are right now. It is the right thing to do. You have to take care of your people. The right thing is to offer people what they deserve,” said Gable.
Gable was a 1972 Olympic champion and 1971 World champion in freestyle wrestling, and has served as head coach of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team. He is the retired head wrestling coach for Iowa, where he won 15 NCAA team titles as a coach. Gable is a member of the U.S. Wrestling Hall of Fame and the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Olympic and World champion Jordan Burroughs, considered by many the best men’s freestyle wrestler in the world today, talked about the coalition of international wrestlers and nations behind the effort to Keep Olympic Wrestling.
“It has been a great effort by a lot of countries, the superpowers in the world. Iran, Russia and the United States are among them. Going to Iran was awesome. There were thousands of fans in the stands, with Save Olympic Wrestling signs written in Farsi and English. We have a camaraderie. Even though we are opponents on the mat, we established a brotherhood, to try to reverse the decision the IOC has made,” said Burroughs.
Burroughs was a 2012 Olympic champion and 2011 World Champion and is undefeated in men’s freestyle career on the Senior level. He was a two-time NCAA champion for Nebraska.
You can see the entire press conference by clicking the link below. Please go to the 8:12 mark of the video to see the start of the activities.
CPOW Press Conference Video