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CPOW Weekly Update for April 22, 2013

SUMMARY: Save Olympic Wrestling Coalition of national wrestling federations formed and announced… FILA hires TSE Consulting to develop strategic plan… Nigerian leader Daniel Igali, an Olympic champion, to help present wrestling’s case to IOC Executive Board… Acting FILA President Lalovic meets with Russian President Putin… CPOW press conference featuring John Bardis, Rich Bender, John Smith, Bruce Baumgartner and Pat Christenson held in Las Vegas… All-American Wrestling Supply and Cliff Keen Athletic donate $25,000 to CPOW through t-shirt program… Pioneers of women’s wrestling in the USA honored at U.S. Open… Shiela Wager, first female Olympic wrestling referee, receives FILA Gold Star… Hundreds of all ages pose for Keep Olympic Wrestling photo at U.S. Open in Las Vegas… 2020 Vision campaign effective at U.S. Open…

The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) is issuing a weekly update on Mondays, informing the wrestling community and the general public on its activities. This week, numerous activities surrounding the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort were held alongside the U.S. Open Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, Nev., the annual national championships in the Olympic styles of wrestling.

CPOW is a group of wrestling leaders assembled by USA Wrestling. Its charge is to oversee the effort within the United States to Keep Wrestling In the Olympics, as part of a coordinated international strategy designed to retain wrestling in the Olympics.

Here are the key news items that developed in the last week on the domestic and international scenes.

International Relations News and Effort

• CPOW and USA Wrestling announced the creation of the Save Olympic Wrestling Coalition, which has been formed by a number of international wrestling federations to show wrestling should remain on the Olympic program. The coalition will initially be comprised of strategically identified federations to show that regardless of geographic or political differences, they are unified in a commitment to this effort. Goals of the coalition include:1) Support the political campaign of FILA, the international governing body of wrestling, 2) Mobilize energy and resources in each country; 3) Promote Olympic wrestling through World Wrestling Month in May; 4) Support Acting FILA President Nenad Lalovic and his administration; 5) Assist with the continued development of Olympic wrestling. Save Olympic Wrestling coalition members so far are Albania, Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, United States and Uzbekistan.

• FILA, the international wrestling federation, has hired TSE Consulting, a highly respected international sports management firm, to assist in developing a strategic plan for the sport of wrestling worldwide. “We need to transform our organisation and our sport to ensure a stronger future and to become a better partner for the Olympic Movement. A long term strategic plan is exactly what we need right now to deal with the challenges that we face,” said FILA Acting President Nenad Lalovic. TSE Consulting has vast experience working with international federations on their strategic planning.

• It was announced that 2000 Olympic wrestling champion Daniel Igali, who is a leading wrestling leader in Nigeria and won an Olympic gold medal for Canada, will be one of the presenters to the International Olympic Committee Executive Board in its meetings in St. Petersburg, Russia in late May. Igali will be one of the six people who will represent wrestling, as it makes its case to be one of the sports considered for provisional sport status at the 2020 Olympic Games. Igali is currently a technical advisor to the Nigerian Wrestling Federation, and has been leading the effort among African nations to help Keep Olympic Wrestling.

• Russian President Vladimir Putin met with FILA Acting President Nenad Lalovic this week in Sochi, Russia, as wrestling made a presentation at the AIPS Congress there. AIPS is the only international journalist organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Putin has publically announced his support to retain wrestling as an Olympic sport, and discussed with Lalovic how he can assist in the effort.

United States News and Efforts

• CPOW hosted a press conference on the final day of the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, to announce the Save Olympic Wrestling Coalition, and to provide an update from key CPOW members in attendance. USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender made the announcement about the coalition, which he was instrumental in developing during three international trips in recent weeks. CPOW Director of Development and Finance John Bardis gave an update on the fundraising program, and explained how the leadership from the United States has helped the new FILA leadership to improve the sport internationally. Two-time Olympic champion John Smith talked about why the USA vs. Iran vs. Russia competition in Grand Central Terminal in New York City will be such an important event for wrestling in its effort to remain an Olympic sport. Two-time Olympic champion and U.S. flagbearer Bruce Baumgartner gave his perspective why wrestling should be in the Olympic Games forever. Special guest Pat Christenson of Las Vegas Events talked about the significance of the 2015 World Wrestling Championships coming to Las Vegas, both for the sport of wrestling and the city of Las Vegas. All of the guests answered questions from members of the media and provided insight into what CPOW is doing, how the money being raised is being spent, and the importance of the international effort to the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement. To see the entire press conference, click here.

• All-American Wrestling Supply and Cliff Keen Athletic have worked together to market the official Keep Olympic Wrestling shirt, in which $20.20 from each sale went directly to CPOW for its efforts to retain Olympic wrestling. At the championship finals of the U.S. Open, Joe Miller of All American Wrestling Supply, and Tom Keen of Cliff Keen Athletic presented a check for $25,129.00 to CPOW Director of Development John Bardis for the cause, as they were surrounded on the raised mats by all of the past U.S. Olympic Team and World Team members in attendance. A new text to donate program was then announced, as the athletes on the stage pulled out their cell phones to make a donation. Anybody can now donate $10 to the Keep Olympic Wrestling Fund by texting the word “wrestle” to 501501. This text to donate program will be repeated at USA Wrestling events around the nation in the upcoming months.

• To celebrate the legacy of women’s wrestling in the United States, USA Wrestling hosted a reunion of the pioneers of women’s freestyle wrestling during the U.S. Open in Las Vegas. These were the courageous and talented young women who competed in freestyle wrestling in the 1980’s and 1990’s, before the sport was added at the 2004 Olympic Games. Organized by four-time World champion and Hall of Fame member Tricia Saunders and her friends, almost 20 women’s wrestling pioneers were honored. A social reception was held, allowing some of the current women Olympic contenders to meet those who built the sport and provided them with their Olympic opportunity. The women wrestlers were given special Team USA warm-ups and individually introduced to the crowd prior to the championship finals on the raised mats, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. They posed together for a group photo, which was distributed to the world through social media.

• Another pioneer woman in American wrestling was honored along with the women wrestlers, when FILA presented its highest award, the FILA Gold Star, to Shiela Wager of the United States. Wager was the first woman from any country to serve as a mat official at the Olympic Games, when she was a referee at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Wager received her Gold Star on the raised platform during the U.S. Open finals, and was surrounded by the pioneer women wrestlers for photos and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

• Prior to the start of the Saturday morning session of the U.S. Open, hundreds of wrestlers of all ages, from youth through the Olympics and Veterans levels, along with coaches, referees and fans, came together on the raised center mats for a group photo supporting the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort. Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs encouraged the group to get together on the public address system. Holding 2020 Vision banners and Olympic signs, the large group representing all of American wrestling filled the four mats on the stage. They posed for photos, taken by the best wrestling photographers in the nation, which have been shared with the world on Facebook and Twitter.

• The Keep Olympic Wrestling effort was very active during the U.S. Open, with a special 2020 Vision booth open all week. Fans were able to give their video testimony about why wrestling is so important to them and why it should remain in the Olympic Games. They were also able to sign up as a supporter of the effort online at Fans also made donations at the event, and were able to purchase 2020 Vision t-shirts for which proceeds go directly to the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort.

We ask one thing from the wrestling community. Please stay informed and stay involved. You can do this by registering on We will give you weekly updates on the activities of CPOW and the international wrestling community so you can truly be a part of the solution.
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