Oklahoma wrestlers are up in arms over the possibility that the sport may be dropped from the Olympic games. The International Olympic Committee will vote this fall whether to eliminate wrestling beginning with the 2020 games.
Competitors and fans are not happy at all. Wrestling has been a mainstay in the Olympics dating back to the original games in ancient Greece.
There's no where better to learn the history of the sport than the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater. From Olympic gold medals to a 2,000-year-old instructional guide, the building tells a thousand stories.
"Wrestling means - the word literally means 'to struggle,'" said Lee Roy Smith, Wrestling Hall of Fame director.
Wrestling is now facing what some consider its greatest struggle. The International Olympic Committee's executive board has recommended the sport be dropped from the Olympic games.
"I'm in shock, quite honestly," Smith said.
Lee Roy Smith is the Hall of Fame's director, he also wrestled and coached at OSU. His brother John Smith is OSU's current coach and an Olympic champion.
The sport is in their blood.
"It's one on one, so what you put into it is what you get out of it," he said.
There's no official reason why the executive board recommended to cut wrestling. Smith is positive that politics played a big role, but he also admits a lack of television coverage may be another reason.
He says the decision is baffling because wrestling has been around throughout all of recorded history and a mainstay of both the modern and ancient Olympics.
According to the OSSAA, 140 schools across Oklahoma sponsor wrestling, and nearly 3000 high school athletes participate in the sport. Supporters say despite the decision by the IOC the sport continues to grow.
"Those numbers have all been well and, in fact, increasing since 1999," said Lee Roy Smith, Wrestling Hall of Fame director.
Smith is sad that those young wrestlers may now lose their shot at Olympic gold.
"Boys and girls now who want to dream about Olympic aspiration after 2020 may not have that chance," he said. "We're going to do everything we can to keep fighting."
Wrestling will go up against seven other sports, including squash, wakeboarding, and baseball when the IOC meets in September. Only one of those eight sports will be allowed to compete in the 2020 games.