The One Man Who Can Save Olympic Wrestling, Kurt Angle
Back on February the 12th, the national news press was set on fire with the electric report stating that the sport of wrestling would be removed from the 2020 Olympic Games, per the voting decision of the International Olympic Committee board members. The board members voted to remove wrestling, over the (arguably) more dangerous sport the Pentathlon. This decision was based on a variety of criteria that included television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, global participation and popularity. But most would object stating that the decision weighs heavily on more financial and political ties. But does wrestling have a chance to be saved? Is there a chance that the oldest Olympic sport may have a shot at not making 2016 their last appearance to the world? If one man, one name can make this happen, that man would be the 1996 gold medalist himself, Kurt Angle.
Angle has been more than vocal regarding his stance against the board of directors decision to remove the sport. Angle won the gold medal in men’s freestyle wrestling representing the United States in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia. Angle parlayed his mat experience over to the WWE when he made his professional wrestling debut in 1999. Angle was with the WWE until 2006 when he jumped ship to Total Non-Stop Action (TNA), where he still remains one of the top men on the roster. Angle’s involvement when it comes to being a single representation of what one can do to turn their craft into a career is boldly personified. Angle became a trailblazing figure of people transitioning over from amateur wrestling to the professional style. Albeit unorthodox, it’s still a viable option to earn a living, which many men have taken advantage of.
Since Kurt Angle is the biggest public figure in regards to leading the crusade to save wrestling in the Olympics, what if Kurt Angle took the next few years to concentrate on being a competitor in wrestling and going after the gold medal once again? On the professional side, Angle has accomplished every significant accomplishment that any wrestler could ever imagine or dream of. He has won (literally) every WWE world championship while in the WWE, including WCW titles and of course every major TNA world title. In addition to his championships domestically he also has held on to the IWGP heavyweight championship as well, from Japan. Angle has already proven to be one of the greatest of all time in the pro rankings, but to have the opportunity to fight for the sport where his passion lies in would be an honor like none other. If television ratings and poor ticket sales are a major factor in why the sport was voted out, having Angle’s name on the ticket could make wrestling the most sought after seat next to basketball. Ticket sales as well as television viewership may be the highest that wrestling has ever seen since its inception into the Olympics in 1896 (yes, we know the Olympics were not televised back then, but you get the point). Angle is a legitimate international superstar and going about this could be tremendous not only for TNA, not only for his personal legacy, but for the overall integrity of Olympic wrestling.
This solution may not be the immediate viable solution, but this could create the noise that is needed for the IOC committee board needs to hear in order to consider keeping the sport around. Kurt Angle is currently wearing a shirt on TNA that says “I Bleed Wrestling” on the back. And on the front it has the twitter hashtag #SaveOlympicWrestling. Taking this step could actually bring this crusade to a successful completion.
Maurice D. Proffit is a Writer For Rant Sports