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USA Wrestling for Peace partners with Jordanian Wrestling Federation for Youth Development

by Savannah Asmann, USA Wrestling

In December 2023, Ambassador Dan Russell had devoted years to promoting peace through wrestling while residing in Jordan, fostering international relations and cultural understanding.

Mo Tavakolian, a Titan Mercury Wrestling Club board member, known for his role in strengthening the wrestling relationship between Iran and the U.S., joined forces with Russell with the aim to grow wrestling in underprivileged areas of Jordan. This dynamic duo, with years of experience in wrestling diplomacy, plan to work alongside sponsors such as Nike, Athlete Performance Solutions (APS) and Gear2 Compete to provide kids in need with wrestling gear as they start their journey in the sport of wrestling.

The Jordanian Wrestling Federation has invited Russell and Tavakolian to visit clubs in underserved areas this February, with the goal of introducing this sport to local children, equipping them with gear, and planning the sport's growth.

Russell highlighted the federation's investment in wrestling's future and expressed USA Wrestling for Peace's commitment to teaching values like respect and teamwork through the sport.

"The Jordan Wrestling Federation has made a big investment in the future of wrestling in Jordan on the international stage. The Olympic organizing body, United World Wrestling, has recognized their great effort. USA Wrestling for Peace is honored to help them grow the sport in the region and to teach under-served communities the lifelong qualities of respect, team building, hard work, leadership, integrity, and perseverance through the sport of wrestling," said Dan Russell.

Tavakolian, inspired by Nelson Mandela's words, believed wrestling in under-resourced areas instilled discipline and resilience. He anticipates contributing to Jordan, reflecting on its culture akin to his Iranian roots, while impacting the lives of Jordanian youth through wrestling's life lessons.

"I am a true believer that sports have the power to change the world—wise words I live by quoted from Nelson Mandela," said Mo Tavakolian. “The sport of wrestling has played an integral role in my life of hardship. I owe my success to it. Wrestling in under-resourced communities is not just a sport. I believe it’s a force that instills discipline, resilience, and a sense of purpose. On the wrestling mat, youth learn to grapple. They transition those skills to their daily lives, and it teaches them how to grapple with life's challenges, teaching them the invaluable lessons of determination and strength. In these communities, wrestling is then a powerful catalyst for personal growth, breaking barriers, and forging champions not only on the wrestling mat but in the game of life.

"I am so excited to join my dear brother Dan on this project. I always wanted to visit Jordan. I appreciate its history and its culture as its very similar to my Iranian roots. What makes it even better is to visit Jordan and be a part of wrestling there at the same time. I am looking forward on how we can help grow the sport of wrestling and impact the lives of the boys and girls in Jordan, teaching them basic skills on the mat that will carry over off the mat into their everyday lives. I hope this also brings unity and peace and understanding. As Fredrick Douglass so accurately has said, ‘It’s easier to build strong children than fix broken men.’”

USA Wrestling for Peace will be collaborating with USA Wrestling and Titan Mercury Wrestling Club on this impactful project and deciding on ideal ambassadors to join the cause.

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Mo Tavakolian (left) and Dan Russell (right).