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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No Holds Barred: John Perretti on How the Dinosaurs Ruined Wrestling 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again speaks with our longtime colleague and senior correspondent John Perretti.

The sport of wrestling, the oldest in the world and an original Olympic sport, is on the verge of being kicked out of the Olympics. Many of us have been warning the lords of wrestling for years that they had to start promoting, marketing, and popularizing the sport properly, and with up-to-date methods, lest the sport would die.

Now with the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board voting to drop wrestling from the Olympic Program in 2020, and the closing down of college wrestling in the U.S. continuing, this current era of wrestling may be coming to a close (although IOC meetings in May and then September may give Olympic wrestling a stay of execution).

"I warned those guys at USAW [USA Wrestling] so many years ago that this was going to occur," said John Perretti in this interview, which took place by Skype Tuesday (Monday New York time, as he is now in Japan).

"They laughed at me, and then stabbed me in the back," he said, referring to their failure to do what they promised when he worked with them in 1997 on "The Contenders" grappling show.

"The writing was on the wall a long, long time ago."

While the existence of the current international styles of wrestling is in peril, many styles of grappling are continuing to grow.

"I hope that things like grappling move further along and maybe to the Olympics."

But the future is not bright for wrestling.

"You can see that more and more control is going to be pushed towards mixed martial arts, and they are going to lose 99.9 percent of their talent, like I said, especially with there being no Olympics to work towards."

And he stressed, "You can't wake up these dinosaurs," adding, "Once they're fossilized, like they are, they're immovable and impenetrable. They are no longer extant. And wrestling might be that."

We also discussed how the IOC's potentially dropping wrestling represents a decline in the importance of physical culture in the West, for whom wrestling's demise will be a tragedy, how the new leadership in wrestling is making the same old mistakes (and some new ones, too), and much more.

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