for immediate release, September 16, 2002


Marty Mankamyer, the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, supports the inclusion of both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the program of the Olympic Games.

Mankamyer is responding to the recommendation of the Olympic Programme Commission, which suggested changes in the sport program to the International Olympic Committee. A number of specific events or disciplines of existing Olympic sports were recommended for elimination, including one of the two disciplines of Olympic wrestling. The Olympic Programme Commission did not specify which style might be cut.

Mankamyer provided the following statement to USA Wrestling, in support of its efforts within the international wrestling community to retain both traditional Olympic wrestling styles in future Olympic Games:


"The U.S. Olympic Committee supports the inclusion of both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the program of the Olympic Games. Wrestling has been included in both the ancient and modern Olympic Games. Greco-Roman wrestling was featured in the first modern Olympics in 1896. Freestyle wrestling was added to the Olympics in 1904. Both styles of wrestling are practiced all around the world, and both have been instrumental in building the popularity of the modern Olympic Games. We support the efforts of FILA, the international wrestling federation, and USA Wrestling, the U.S. sport governing body, to retain both styles of wrestling on the Olympic program."

USA Wrestling is working along with FILA, the international wrestling federation, to encourage the International Olympic Committee to continue both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling at the Olympic Games.

"USA Wrestling appreciates the support of the U.S. Olympic Committee in the effort to continue the tradition of freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the Olympic Games," said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director. "We believe that sports leaders across the world will agree with the U.S. Olympic Committee and stand strong behind wrestling."

The wrestling community challenges the conclusions of the IOC Olympic Programme Commission that questions the popularity of wrestling.

"There are over 150 nations that participate in wrestling worldwide," said Bender. "Wrestling is included in every continental championships. Wrestling is the most popular and successful sport in many nations. Wrestling is very important in the cultures of many people and does receive considerable media attention. Wrestling has always been a part of the Olympics, and an Olympics without both wrestling styles would not be a true Olympics."

The wrestling community worldwide contends that the IOC Olympic Programme Commission is inaccurate in its belief that there is confusion about the differences in the two Olympic wrestling styles.

"There is a significant difference between freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling," Bender continued. "In freestyle wrestling, you may use your entire body in the execution of holds. In Greco-Roman wrestling, an athlete may not use or touch the legs in performing techniques. The styles look very different, and there are different techniques and tactics in each style. Anybody who has seen both freestyle and Greco-Roman can immediately tell the difference. In our experience, the media and the general public can easily understand that freestyle and Greco-Roman are unique disciplines that are both worthy of inclusion in the Olympic Games."