Good news, America! Even though it's cut wrestling, the International Olympic Committee has saved rhythmic gymnastics, modern pentathlon, and table tennis for your Summer Olympic 2020 viewing pleasure.
"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling, it is what's right with the 25 core sports."
Truer words have always been spoken. Cycling remains intact even though the gig is up. Want to compete against the best? Blood doping is required.
Table Tennis was not on the chopping block. However, China has won more than half of all available medals since the "sport" debuted in 1988. Twenty-four of the 28 gold medals have been captured by the Chinese.
But remember, it is what's right with the other sports.
Twelve separate nations won medals in Table Tennis since 1988. Very historic!
Fifty-two nations have captured at least one medal in Olympic wrestling since its inception back in 1896. At least NBC can continue to show beach volleyball, thongs, and contrived feel-good stories during primetime.
It will be interesting to see how this IOC decision plays out during the modern social media era. Heavy-hitting icons such as Dan Gable, Cael Sanderson, and the Iron Sheik will take a stand.
Can these living legends, along with throngs of supporters across the globe, defend the IOC takedown attempt of their sport?
While under siege from old farts on a committee somewhere in a distant land, wrestling thrives in Green Country. One organization had their eyes opened wide last March.
Oklahoma City was awarded the first ever Oklahoma-based NAGA Championship a year ago. Competitors from Tulsa and surrounding area were once forced to drive to Texas or Missouri to compete in the North American Grappling Association's Championships.
"It was always a two-day event in Texas," said Clay Marrs, wrestling coach at The Factory, 4335 S. Mingo Rd., and four-time NAGA Champion. "They would do all the adults on one day and all the kids on one day."
"They figured Oklahoma is not going to have as big of a turnout so they did it in one day," he added. "We were there at 9am. My last match was at 9:45pm. It was brutal. It should have been a two-day tournament. There were probably 1,300 or 1,500 people in the tournament. It ended up being a lot bigger than they thought it would be."
On Saturday, Feb. 23 the 2013 NAGA Oklahoma Grappling Championship takes over the Expo Square, 4145 E. 21st St. Spectators are welcome to attend and watch high-caliber grappling for $15.
Many local jujitsu schools will converge on the local show. They will test themselves against the best the region has to offer. Visit nagafighter.com for more information.
Marrs dominated the 159-pound category in both gi and no-gi over the past few years. His specialty is no-gi, but he may sit this competition out.
He will attend and put forth intense effort into coaching his students. As a full-time fire fighter at Fire Station number 6 in Tulsa, he is getting ready to test for captain.
"I don't need to stress myself with pulling weight," Marrs said. Gym owner and Tulsa's Official Badass Josh Bryant is still trying to convince him to compete.
"If I'm not 100 percent prepared in my head -- I'm not going to just jump in a do it anyway," Marrs said. "[Josh] tends to take fights at 185 but do NAGA at heavyweight. He doesn't care. If I'm not 100 percent in my own head, I won't compete. I'm pretty particular."
So instead his students reap the benefits of a four-time NAGA Champion coaching from the mat. Much like the world of MMA these days, strategy is heavily involved for those seeking a slick championship belt.
"I figured it would be nice coaching some of these guys and give it my all as far as coaching. It is fun."
In many ways a competition such as NAGA is the same as a mixed martial arts fight. According to Marrs, a fighter with dreams of making it on the MMA scene would be wise to give a grappling competition a shot.
"If you are training right, you should not fight more than about 3 times a year. You need the in between time to work on techniques," Marrs said.
"You go to a grappling tournament three or four times a year and get three to six matches," he added. "You can compete 20 to 30 times a year, unlike MMA where you only get to go three times a year. The experience gained competing in front of people is great. I try to tell all my guys, even if you are a MMA guy and not the greatest grappler, get out there and do it. That is 1,000 people or more watching you."
Another similarity is the process of scoring points to win. In MMA, scoring a knockout, submission, or referee stoppage equals immediate win. If the fight goes the distance you rely on a judge's interpretation of the rules.
Grappling tournaments also have rules. If you submit your opponent your hand will be raised. However, if it goes the full six minutes you rely on an interpretation of the rules by a third party official.
You never quite know what kind of decision a judge will render. It is part of the lure and absolute frustration of being a fight fan.
Almost as painful as watching clueless IOC board members submit a secret ballot to remove wrestling from the Olympics.
At least Tulsa has NAGA for now.
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