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|Smith vs. Beloglazov is the new “Bout of the Week” on USA Wrestling Audio/Video website|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .
The feature this week is the 1989 John Smith vs. Sergei Beloglazov men's freestyle match at the World Grand Championships in Pittsburgh, Pa. The match featured two of the greatest wrestlers in World history, competing in an all-star event for prize money.
This match has been placed on the TheMat.com's new Audio/Video website, which was the former USA Wrestling Member's Only website. The new website has been redesigned and reformatted and was launched today. It is an exciting upgrade that will better serve the wrestling community and provides cutting-edge technology.
In 1989, USA Wrestling developed an exciting new competition called the World Grand Championships, where a team of U.S. stars battled the best wrestlers in the world in challenge matches, with prize money awarded based upon the result of the match.
Working with hosts in Pittsburgh, Pa., including sponsor Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, a total of $65,000 in prize money was offered to the participants. Corporate sponsors were solicited. The competition was set for the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, and placed in a major sports arena in Pittsburgh, the Civic Arena. Goals were set to attract one of the largest crowds to watch international wrestling in the United States.
To help create interest, a "Main Event" was developed, which provided a higher prize award and would be the featured bout on the card of 11 matches. Organizers went after the two most prominent names in international freestyle wrestling, and got them to agree to the match, even though they are from different weight classes. The "Main Event" was between two-time Olympic champion and six-time World champion Sergei Beloglazov of the Soviet Union against Olympic champion and two-time World champion John Smith of the United States.
These superstars were at different stages of their career. Smith was the hottest young star in the sport, winning his first World title as a college student from Oklahoma State in 1987, then following with gold medal victories at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea and the 1989 World title in Martigny, Switzerland. Smith competed at 136.5 pounds, and his three straight World-level gold medals made him the first American to go three in a row in history.
Beloglazov had retired after the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, ending one of the most successful careers in history. Starting with the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Beloglazov won every World-level title through the Seoul Games, except the 1984 Olympic Games when the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Games. He captured all the major events in the sport, and competed with an intensity and technical skill that was unmatched during his generation. Beloglazov made history at 57 kg/125.5 lbs., so he gave up a bit of size and weight when wrestling Smith.
In a very unique situation during the Cold War, the Soviet Union allowed Beloglazov to come to the United States for a short time prior to the meet for a promotional tour. He traveled across the East Coast to do press conferences and clinic appearances, to tell the world about his bout with Smith. Stops were held in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Lock Haven, Philadelphia and New York City, and the regional sports and wrestling communities were able to meet this amazing athlete.
The event in Pittsburgh was a great showcase for wrestling. The crowd was very large, over 9,000 spectators in a major hockey arena, and the athletes competed with skill and intensity. The production was first-class, with a darkened arena, spotlights, video introductions, music, bout card girls and other promotions.
Winners of bouts for the United States included John Giura (149.5 lbs.), Kenny Monday (163), Bill Scherr (220) and Bruce Baumgartner (286). The international winners were Kim Jong-Shin of Korea (105.5), Valentin Jordanov of Bulgaria (114.5), Gary Bohay of Canada (136.5), Arsen Fadzaev of the Soviet Union (149.5), Elmadi Jabrailov of the Soviet Union (180.5) and Makharbek Khadartsev of the Soviet Union (198).
The Smith vs. Beloglazov match was held to the end, and the technical skills and quality of the action met expectations. Smith was able to get his offense going, in spite of Beloglazov's tremendous abilities, and won a 6-2 match. Smith received $8,000 and Beloglazov $2,000 for the match.
This event would change the life of Beloglazov in many ways, and was a landmark win for Smith in the middle of a memorable career. Shortly after the event, Beloglazov decided to move to the United States to take an assistant coaching job at Lehigh Univ., perhaps the first time a major international wrestling star had come for a college assignment. He made a short comeback to wrestle for his native Ukraine at the 1993 World Championships, where he did not medal, ending his competitive careerBeloglazov lived many years in the USA as a coach, not only helping Lehigh's team but also conducting many clinics that strengthened our nation's abilities in freestyle.
Beloglazov left the USA for a few other coaching assignments, working with the Japanese national team as its coach, then returning to Russia to coach their national team. He returned to the United States in 2003 to take the job as USA Wrestling's National Freestyle Resident Coach in Colorado Springs, Colo. In 2004, Beloglazov accepted the freestyle coaching position with the Sunkist Kids club in Phoenix, Ariz., working for one of the greatest wrestling clubs in the world. He continues to coach athletes from across the nation, and has led a number of U.S. teams on international tours.
Smith had many more accomplishments ahead of him after the win in Pittsburgh. He ran his gold-medal streak to six in a row, winning World titles in 1990 and 1991, then taking a second Olympic gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. He retired from competition after his win in Barcelona, at the young age of 27 years old, clearly one of the greatest in wrestling history. His Senior-level freestyle career record was an amazing 177-8, which included a 100-5 record against foreign athletes.
Smith turned his focus to coaching, taking over the program at his alma mater Oklahoma State. Smith has now won four NCAA team titles as a coach for the Cowboys, including the last three NCAA titles in a row. He has also become a top international freestyle coach, leading our 2000 Olympic freestyle team and continuing to develop top stars for the Gator WC.
Both Smith and Belaglazov have been inducted into the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame.
This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history.