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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

No Holds Barred: Mike Chapman on Corruption, Marketing, and Leadership in International Wrestling 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with wrestling and sports historian and author Mike Chapman.

Our main focus was the future of wrestling in light of the vote Sunday by the International Olympic Committee to retain wrestling for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics, but only as a provisional sport.

In our discussion, recorded Tuesday by phone, Mike Chapman noted that when the IOC members began questioning the representatives of FILA, the international wrestling federation, about their reinstatement, the very first question was about widespread allegations of corruption in the sport.

"The genie's out of the bottle," he said. "It's right up there for everybody to know about. And they simply have to deal with it. They can't look the other way, because it's going to haunt them and bring them down."

We also discussed some of the ongoing problems which nearly led to the demise of Olympic wrestling, including failures in marketing and media.

"The number one thing that I learned through all my business associations is: marketing, marketing, marketing," he said. "You can have the greatest movie, the greatest book, you can have the greatest sport, but if you're not marketing it, it doesn't really matter, because nobody's going to know what you're producing."

He added, "That's just the absolute key, and that's where wrestling has always, always, stumbled and fallen down."

There are a number of wrestling events outside the wrestling establishment which are being organized, including the Tour ACW on October 20 in Pittsburgh and the Agon Wrestling Championships on October 27 in Las Vegas, as well as numerous catch wrestling events.

In particular, the revived catch wrestling, once the style used a century ago when pro wrestling was still in part a real sport, is in its infancy but is seeking to reclaim its place as a major sport.

To revive catch wrestling, he said, "They have to have a plan, and it has to be well thought out." All that requires "a great deal of courage, it takes a great financial plan, and it takes marketing."

In addition, we also discussed the need for good leadership in wrestling, what else international and American wrestling need to do in the coming months after the IOC reinstatement, and much, much more.

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