2001 Wrestling World Cup in Baltimore
The 2001 World Cup Championship of Wrestling was held at the Baltimore Convention Center May 5-6th. SMWC participated in both the volunteer effort as well as ticket sales and club attendance along with Gunston. While the competition itself lived up to its billing as being some of the best action since Sydney, it was terrible that more "so called" local wrestling enthusiasts didn't attend. Many spring clubs are active in Maryland and Northern Virginia, and many wrestlers participate in the sport during the winter regular season. However, very few of those who call wrestling "their sport" were on hand throughout the two days of great action.
Many of the World's best wrestlers, not only current international wrestlers, but former Olympic champions and cup competitors, were scattered throughout the stands and on the floor. No matter where you sat (all seats were excellent) you probably could look around and see some of the "Whose Who" of wrestling. Also, the wrestlers themselves came up into the stands and spent time socializing with just about anyone who wanted to chat. Not like NCAA's or even traditional Olympic events. Autograph hunters had a hayday.
Some stars, like SMWC's Buddy Lee (left with Jim Howard) or 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist Brandon Slay, carried cards, photos and pins to hand out, while most, like SMWC Patron Kendall Cross just singed shirts, hats, programs, or anything else you gave them. Even some of the older stars like Bobby Douglass, Joe Henson (pictured at table right) and SMWC's Jim Howard were happy to autograph programs or give out helpful tips when asked.
Most SMWC/Gunston members sat in two areas. Roy Hill likes the "nosebleed" area, so many members sat with him in the back where it was quiet. Many of the rest sat right down in front, close enough to see the bruises and bumps on the wrestlers. Coach G and Buddy had floor passes but preferred the good seating in the stands when the action started. Mrs. G had the best seat in the place next to the officials, matside.
Our club did get some publicity, particularly when Kendall (left with Omar Malik and Coach G) visited on Saturday and when Buddy and Jim were in the stands with us and during the clinic on Sunday. Coach Bernard came from work Saturday wearing a tie and Wade Hughes had to sit with his kids in the back, but Jim Howard came wearing his SMWC coaches shirt. SMWC's Kim Gabrielson, World Cup Head Photographer no less, wore her SMWC official shirt on Saturday and her Sydney officials shirt on Sunday. Coach G served as an "official door guard" at meals and wore SMWC coaches shirts both days. Only a few of the foreign competitors and coaches spoke English, so Coach had to stand in the middle of the doorway and to make sure only officials with meal cards were able to get into the dinner events.
The Iranian spectators were in top form as usual. They play a couple of notes on a horn, then everyone yells something in Iranian while holding up their flag, then back to the horn again. Whenever an Iranian hit a particularly good move, they would jump up and down and go nuts. We had some excitement also but no where the enthusiasm of the Iranians. Wrestling is their national sport and they show it.
This is what you missed. Action started off on Saturday morning in Session I with matches between the US def Uzbekistan and Russia def Turkey (19-10), followed by Iran def Turkey (23-8). Session II featured matches resulted in Russia def Uzbekistan (22-11), Turkey def. Uzbekistan (18-14), and between Iran and the USA. It was clear from the start that the US and Iran were the teams to beat as each came away with solid victories. Russia also looked tough and had to be in the mix.
On Saturday between sessions, four members including Calvin, Kim, Omar Malik, and Coach G attended a very nice shrimp National Wrestling Coaches Association buffet and talk by Brandon Slay. Haswell Franklin sat at our table (above left) and socialized for awhile. Mike Moyer ran the event but Haswell was the actual sponsor and deserves a BIG THANKS for the nice affair he put on. Brandon even came by for pictures with everyone there and thanked Kim (below right) for sending him her pictures from the Olympics in Sydney.
Some of the big match-ups in Session II on Saturday included two world champions, 2000 Olympic Champion Ali Reza Dabir (63 kg) from Iran vs Cary Kolat of the US (Dabir defeated Kolat 4-3), and World Cup Champion Ali Reza Heidari of Iran vs 4th in the World, Dominic Black or the US (Heidari defeated Black 4-1). The US-Iran match was highly publicized as the match of the tournament. It met its billing. The US was down by three going into the last match of the night. The US wrestler, Kerry McCoy needed a fall for the US to win the team title. Any other score and the US could finish no better than second. McCoy struck quickly taking Iran's Ebrahim Mehraban to his side. McCoy then used his reach to lock a cradle at Mehraban's knee and turn for the pin at 2:31 seconds into the match. When the ref slapped the mat the arena exploded with the USA team winning a close 16-15 match. What a way to end the night.
US vs Iran individual scores were: 54 kgs. - Teague Moore L 3-0 58 kgs. - Kerry Bowmans W 5-2 63 kgs. - Cary Kolat L 4-3 69 kgs. - Chris Bono L 2-1 76 kgs. - Joe Williams W 4-2 85 kgs. - Charles Burton W 3-2 97 kgs. - Dominic Black L 4 - 1
Session III on Sunday early afternoon featured US def Turkey (22-10) and Iran def Russia (21-10). Russia was led by their 54 kg champion, Alexandre Kontoev who put Russia ahead 3-0 after the first match. Iran slowly chipped away however and finished Russia off quickly ensuring a solid 2nd place team finish.
During the break between sessions on Sunday, Kendall Cross, Zeke Zones and Kevin Jackson put on a clinic for those who attended session III. Many members were there and one got to participate in some demonstrations. USA Coach Jackson showed a nice drop back attack after a counter that is worth a try.
The final match-ups of Session IV featured the USA def Russia (21-9) and Iran def Uzbekistan (26-6). Although Russia had looked tough against Iran, their heart wasn't in the matches and the US had no problem dominating the Russians. Iran completely manhandled Uzbek.
Some of the things that were noticed in the US and other wrestlers included: