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|Story ideas for Grappling World Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 12-13|
By Gary Abbott
These are story ideas for the Grappling World Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 12-13.
- This is a legitimate World Championships in Grappling, where athletes represent their nations rather than themselves. It is only the second World Championships ever held. Last year, the first was held in Switzerland.
- It will be a showdown between the reigning World champion team from the United States and the team from Brazil. These are the two most respected nations in Grappling, and it will be a tough battle.
- There are a ton of Florida natives on the U.S. team. At this time, there are 14 Floridians, many who live in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. In addition, some of the Brazil athletes are living in the community.
- The U.S. team head coach is the legendary Ricardo Liborio. The training camp is held at his facility at American Top Team in Coconut Creek. Shawn Sheldon, a two-time Olympian in wrestling, is another coach. Sheldon has been a coach in Florida for many years. Rhadi Ferguson, a Judo Olympian, is another coach from Florida, as well as coaches German Velazco and Emyr Bussade.
- Matt Betzold, who competes at 60 kg in No-Gi, has an amazing personal story. He is a left-leg amputee, who has become a nationally-recognized Grappler. Betzold uses his own unique style of Grappling to succeed without a leg, and has become very proficient in securing submissions on his opponents. He also competes in amateur MMA events.
- Myles Porter, who competes at 96 kg in Gi Grappling, is legally blind, with vision of around 20/200. He started competing in judo when he went to the Univ. of Toledo to play football. Shortly after, he qualified for his first Blind World Team and placed fifth. Porter was a fifth-place finisher at the 2008 Paralympic Games and the #3 U.S. athlete in the 100kg division within USA Judo on the Senior level.
- Four 2008 FILA Grappling World champions, who won their titles in Switzerland, will be back to defend their No-Gi titles: Jacob Volkmann at 84 kg/185 lbs., Raphael Davis at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. and Jeff Monson in the Absolute division and Lisa Ward at 50 kg/110 lbs. In addition, Ward was also the World champion in Gi Grappling last year.
- Four athletes who won No-Gi Grappling World titles at the 2007 World Wrestling Games are on Team USA: Monson, Ward, plus Felicia Oh at 50 kg/110 lbs. and Tara LaRosa at 59 kg/130 lbs.
- There are two past Olympic team members in freestyle wrestling who are on the U.S. Grappling World Team competing in No-Gi: Sara McMann at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Ben Askren at 84 kg/185 lbs. McMann won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Askren competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
- USA Judo World Team member Jeanette Rodriguez will compete at 55 kg/121 lbs. Judo athletes Angelica Delgado at 59 kg/130 lbs. and Veronica Prado at 50 kg/110 lbs. have been past USA Judo Junior World Team members.
- One of the top local stories is Mario Rinaldi, the No-Gi Absolute champion at the U.S. Grappling World Team Trials. Rinaldi trains full-time under coach Liborio at ATT. He was a high school wrestling star in Florida, and competed in college at Delaware State.
- All seven individual champions in the men's No-Gi division had a wrestling background. Six of them were college wrestlers: Zackary Makovsky (Drexel), Tom LeCuyer (Northern Illinois), Ben Askren (Missouri), Ryan Gillespie (Portland State), Kelly Anundson (Newberry) and Mario Rinaldi (Delaware State). The other champion, Pacheco, was an Arizona high school state champion in wrestling, but did not wrestle when he attended Arizona State.
- Many of the competitors in the event also compete professionally in Mixed Martial Arts. Included are Monson, Volkmann, Ward, LaRosa, Rinaldi, LeCuyer plus Miesha Tate, Shayna Baszler, Jeremy Wilson, Din Thomas, Cole Miller, Sam McCoy, Charles McCarthy, Gabe Barahona, Jarod Lawton and others.
- Tom LeCuyer had one of the top performances at the Grappling World Team Trials in Phoenix, Ariz. in October. LeCuyer won gold medals in both the No-Gi and the Gi divisions at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. LeCuyer won a bronze medal at the Grappling World Championships in No-Gi last year and seeks to win a medal in both styles this year.
- Jeff Funicello, who competes at 84 kg/185 lbs. in both No-Gi and Gi, has won two World bronze medals in the sport of Beach Wrestling.
- Scott Garcia, who competes at 84 kg/185 lbs. in Gi Grappling, won a bronze medal at the FILA World Sombo Championships in Turkey in 2007. Also a members of that U.S. team were Douglas Fournet and Ryan Gillespie, both who are competing at 96 kg/211. lbs. in the No-Gi division.