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Superstars welcome decision to keep wrestling in Olympics
WWE Superstars from World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio to Dolph Ziggler welcomed the news this week that wrestling will remain a part of the Olympic Games in 2020 and 2024. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted Sunday to reinstate the sport, reversing an earlier proposal by the committee’s executive board to remove it after the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“They made the right decision,” said Del Rio, a former Mexican national champion in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. “For me, wrestling is the most beautiful sport in the world and it has been in the Olympics since the beginning, so when they decided to remove it, to me, it was just the most ridiculous decision in the world.”
The earlier recommendation to revoke the sport’s Olympic status was met with outcry from the wrestling community, which subsequently rallied behind the cause, agreeing to implement rule changes intended to modernize the mat contest. With Sunday’s vote, wrestling beat out baseball/softball and squash to be included as a core sport in the Olympic program in 2020 and 2024.
To Ziggler, Kent State University’s second all-time leader in victories, nothing can compare to the one-on-one dynamic of wrestling. Having started the sport at age five, The Showoff credits much of his competitive edge to what he learned in the amateur ranks.
“I think it is extremely important and invaluable character building,” he said. “I’m still in good shape from my high school and college practices because they’re so hard, and I’ve lived my whole life that way — never being tired, never being out of shape, having the stamina — because of this great sport that I love.”
The story is similar for fellow amateurs-turned-Superstars Jack Swagger and Big E Langston.
“It teaches you dedication, hard work, discipline and then how to capitalize on situations,” said Swagger, an All-American heavyweight at the University of Oklahoma. “There are just so many aspects that I’ve learned from it at an early age, and I directly relate my success in life to the sport of wrestling and the principles it taught me.”
Langston, who won a Florida state wrestling title in high school, insists his mat experience helped instill a sense of discipline that he carries with him today. The colossus is pleased to see wrestling — a founding sport of the ancient Olympic Games — continue its legacy past the Rio Games.
“It’s hard to fathom the Olympics without wrestling,” he said. “It’s been an integral part of the Olympics since the inception, so it’s definitely good to see wrestling back where it belongs.”