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Monday, January 06, 2014

No Holds Barred: Carlin Yetts on Wrestling and Grappling at 2014 Gay Games 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with wrestling coach Carlin Yetts.

He is very busy in the sport of wrestling, serving as head wrestling coach of the Cbus Wrestling Club in Columbus, Ohio, as well as wrestling coach for Dodge Knights Wrestling, a recreational youth program also in Columbus.

On the international level, he is a board member of the Federation of Gay Games, which every four years organizes the Gay Games, an international sporting and cultural event, which, according to its web site, invites "participation from everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic or artistic ability, age, physical challenge or health status." The Gay Games is open to anyone 18 years or older, and "About 10 percent of participants are from outside the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community."

Carlin Yetts is also a board member of Wrestlers WithOut Borders, which, according to its web site, is "a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the noble Olympic wrestling sports of Freestyle Wrestling, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Beach Wrestling, and Non-Gi Grappling, as defined by WWB & FILA."

Wrestling is the only sport that has been officially sanctioned in every Gay Games since their inception in 1982.

Gay Games 9 is scheduled for August 9-16, 2014, in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio.

The wrestling and grappling at Gay Games 9 will take place August 11-13 at Case Western Reserve University in the Horsburgh Gymnasium, 2138 Adelbert Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. On Monday, August 11, there will be sign-in, clinics, weigh-ins, and skin check. On Tuesday, August 12, there will be freestyle wrestling, using slightly modified international rules (such as no head-over-head throws). On Wednesday, August 13, there will be grappling. The competition will be held for both men and women and in numerous weight classes. The wrestling and grappling at Gay Games 9 will be organized by Wrestlers WithOut Borders. The bulk of the wrestlers and grapplers expected to compete are recreational athletes.

We spoke with Carlin Yetts by Skype Sunday.

Gay Games 9, he said, "is probably going to be one of the biggest. With wrestling kind of leading the helm, you're going to see probably 150-plus wrestlers. And that's probably going to be the biggest from the Gay Games in 30 years." Since the Ohio and neighboring areas are hotbeds of wrestling, he expects a big crowd at Case Western for the wrestling.

At Case Western, which has a Division III wrestling team, their head wrestling coach has had "wide-open arms to us. It's going to be a pretty big event. They've given their facilities to us for free."

He added that today, most people feel that for sport, one's sexual or gender identity "doesn't matter."

"I feel like in our sport, if you can wrestle, then you go on the mat and prove it. Everything else comes second."

We also discussed more about the youth programs he coaches, the role of the Gay Games and Wrestlers WithOut Borders in breaking down stereotypes of LGBT athletes, how acceptance of LGBT athletes is growing but will still take time and education, how he as a gay man and wrestler and coach has faced these issues, and much, much more.

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