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Wrestling fights to keep wrestlers from trading medals for MMA

After a shitty Beijing Olympics where US wrestlers only managed to win three medals, the big buzz from the wrasslin’ organizations in America was that MMA was plundering all the sport’s contenders and potential contenders. While I personally felt their conclusion that “MMA will kill amateur wrestling” was ass backwards and short sighted, it’s hard to argue against the power of MMA’s siren song. Now a plan has been devised by USA Wrestling to try and improve the carrot dangling in front of young Olympic hopefuls:

USA Wrestling announced this week the creation of a medal fund that would pay wrestlers $250,000 for an Olympic gold medal, $50,000 for a silver and $25,000 for a bronze.

“This is bigger than just wrestling,” Cejudo said Thursday in a telephone interview. “This is bigger than the quarter-million. This is going to change everything. It’s going to revolutionize the sport.”

The incentive program, called the Living the Dream Medal Fund, grew out of the United States’ underwhelming haul of three wrestling medals at the Beijing Games, the desire to energize the sport by strengthening it at the grass-roots level and, most important, the urge to keep wrestlers in the sport.

Cejudo, 22, acknowledged that he had considered converting to mixed martial arts. He said he had watched M.M.A. since seventh grade and that his grappling skills would pay dividends inside the steel cage. He said he knew of at least five Olympic-caliber wrestlers who had switched and others who were considering it.

“M.M.A. is growing, and it’s a basic wrestling sport,” Cejudo said. “A lot of fighters are ex-wrestlers. A lot of guys take the easy way out, make quick money. This fund will keep wrestlers in wrestling.”

Funny enough, Joe Warren – the guy who just beat Kid Yamamoto in Japan – is one of the world class wrestlers who left the sport, although it wasn’t because of paychecks. He tested positive for THC twice, earning him a two year suspension from the US Anti-Doping Association. Many considered Warren’s exclusion from the Olympics to be another reason why America won so few medals. Others go even higher (heh) and point to rumored weed smoking by a whole bunch of other top US wrestlers as the problem.

(link via MMA Fanhouse)