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|Press conference at United Nations kicks off The Rumble On The Rails in New York City|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
FILA Acting President Nenad Lalovic welcomes the media to the press conference for the event in Grand Central Terminal hosted at the United Nations.
A special press conference was hosted on Tuesday at the United Nations, as three of the world’s best wrestling teams, the United States, Iran and Russia, came together to celebrate the sport of wrestling in a truly international setting.
They were there to tell the international media about The Rumble On The Rails, a wrestling competition that will be held in historic Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday, as part of a fundraiser for the Beat the Streets wrestling program in New York City.
A consistent theme of the conversation was the unity between these nations and the rest of the world to help retain wrestling as a sport on the Olympic program.
Welcoming the teams and the press to the event was FILA Acting President Nenad Lalovic, who talked about World Wrestling Month in May.
“The United States, along with the other 176 national wrestling federations, are sharing in the celebration of World Wrestling Month, and The Rumble On The Rails will certainly be one of the highlights. Seeing the wrestlers in this room that represent the USA, Iran and Russia inspires me to work even harder every day to ensure our great sport remains a part of the Olympic program. The sport is strong. There are 30 million wrestlers in the world practicing the sport every day,” said Lalovic.
Mike Novogratz, the chairman of Beat the Streets, Inc. and a member of the Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling, talked about the event in Grand Central Terminal.
“Beat the Streets, the organization which I chair, is an organization that sets up youth wrestling programs for intermediate school and high school kids. We have 3,000 kids now wrestling who didn’t wrestle before. This benefit each year helps us raise money and raise awareness for wrestling in New York City. This is going to be a big event. We will have great wrestling at the elite level and the high school level. Grand Central Terminal is a neat place to wrestle,” said Novogratz.
USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender talked about the Save Olympic Wrestling Coalition of wrestling federations who are working to preserve Olympic wrestling. He also noted the changes and improvement in the sport since the recommendation of the IOC Executive Board in February.
“It became very evident to us immediately that this decision proved one thing; our international federation needed some help. Not just from the Americans, but from the Iranians, the Russians, from wrestling countries all over the world. We quickly formed a coalition. One of the results of that coalition we are seeing here today with the match tomorrow in Grand Central Terminal, where some of the best wrestling nations in the world will compete on one of the most unique stages in the history of the sport, for a unique purpose, which is to maintain our presence on the Olympic program,” said Bender.
Iranian head wrestling coach Rasoul Khadem talked about the meaning of wrestling in his country.
“Where I come from, wrestling is not just a sport. It is part of culture and history. A lot of countries have a similar interest in the sport of wrestling. In order to save wrestling in the Olympics, it is the want and desire of many to have the Olympic sport of wrestling for hundreds of years to come,” said Khadem.
Iran will also compete in the United 4 Wrestling dual meet against the United States in Los Angeles on Sunday, May 19.
Russian Team Leader Christakis Alexandridis talked about the competition in Grand Central Terminal.
“New York is one of the greatest cultural, financial and political places on the planet. The three strongest teams in the world, the USA, Russia and Iran, will come together to battle and to show the world that wrestling is not only part of sports but a very important part of life for a lot of people,” said Alexandridis.
USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones sees more than just a competition this week.
“What we are going to witness is a tremendous competition, as the three best wrestling teams in the world will compete tomorrow. But you will see more than that. Of course, you will see world-class wrestling. You will also see how the sport of wrestling has evolved. Among the first things man and woman did – they ran and they wrestled. God gave the sport of wrestling to mankind to protect itself and feed itself. As wrestling evolved, people evolved. When you watch wrestling, you see how it is engrained inside of us,” said Jones.
National Greco-Roman Coach Steve Fraser was pleased that Greco-Roman would also be showcased during The Rumble On The Rails.
“It is great to have this event in New York City. The U.S. Greco-Roman team is excited to be part of this program. The city is oozing with energy. I want to thank Mike Novogratz for having Greco as part of this and I want to thank the Russians for bringing some Greco wrestlers. The U.S. Greco-Roman team is so proud to be a part of the Olympic program. We have a great history with Greco,” said Fraser.
The USA vs. Iran match will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, followed by Beat the Streets youth matches. The USA vs. Russia match follows at 6:00 p.m.
The match with Iran will air live on NBC Sports Channel, and the match with Russia will air live on Universal Sports. Both events will be streamed live on Team USA.org