Wrestlers Slam IOC's Proposal to Remove Sport from Olympics

By Justin Breen on February 12, 2013 4:04pm | Updated on February 12, 2013 5:49pm

 Chicago native Ellis Coleman (bottom) was stunned by the IOC's recommendation to remove wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games.
Chicago native Ellis Coleman (bottom) was stunned by the IOC's recommendation to remove wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games.
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CHICAGO — Like many champion wrestlers, Chicago native Ellis Coleman was stunned by the International Olympic Committee's recommendation to drop the sport from the 2020 Summer Games.

Coleman, who grew up on the West Side and wrestled in the 2012 London Games in the Greco-Roman discipline, let his emotions out a bit.

"I've been wrestling since I was 9 years old, and I can honestly say all my blessings have come from this sport," said Coleman, who escaped a life of gangs and drugs to excel at Oak Park and River Forest High School. "As crazy as my life story may be, every time I turned a corner and grew, it was through wrestling."

Coleman, who's preparing for the 2016 Rio Games in Brazil at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, said he will be sending emails and Internet links to friends to try and save wrestling from the IOC chopping block.

Wrestling has been a part of the Olympic Games since they were revived in 1896, and Coleman believes the IOC is trying to "modernize" the Olympics.

"It's such an old sport," Coleman said.

It's unlikely the sport has much of a chance for Olympic survival. Wrestling is among seven other sports, including baseball and softball, that are competing for one spot in the 2020 Games.

"If the IOC does in fact end up removing wrestling from the Olympics, that is devastating," said Marist High School wrestling coach Brendan Heffernan, who's an alum of the school. "Wrestling as a sport is already struggling to grow, and this is essentially a death sentence."

Another Marist grad, Beverly native and current Stanford wrestling assistant coach Ray Blake, perhaps summed up wrestlers' feelings with this post on his Facebook page: "At a loss for words this morning, but everyone remember that if nothing else, this great sport has molded us all into people that embrace a challenge and love to perform in the face of adversity. We're going to rally, we're going to fight, we're going to persevere ... one way or another, we're going to survive."