Exclusive | Former Olympian Matt Lindland Discusses the IOC’s Removal of Wrestling from the Olympics | UFC News
When the International Olympic Committee announced earlier this month that wrestling will be removed from the Olympics effective in 2020, the entire wrestling and combat sports community blew up social media in a fit of outrage. Numerous petitions have been established to save Olympic wrestling and many former Olympians have also voiced up in an attempt to change the IOC’s mind.
One such Olympian is Team Quest founder and current Olympic coach Matt Lindland. Lindland has dedicated his life to wrestling since his early teenage years at Gladstone High School in Oregon. After a successful career as an NCAA division I standout for the University of Nebraska, Lindland went on to win a Silver Medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
To this day, wrestling is still an integral part of Lindland’s life as he molds the younger generation as a coach for the 2013 U.S Olympic wrestling team. Lindland believes that leadership changes are in order and that there is still a good chance that the sport will live on past the 2020 games and beyond.
“The IOC did cut wrestling, the executive board decided to cut wrestling starting in 2020. I’m optimistic that we can get some things changed, we got rid of some leadership and I think we need some domestic leadership changes as well,” Lindland told BJPenn.com Radio.
“There’s a big push right now to move some people out and get somebody else in there to be our executive president and we need strong leaders that our going to push this sport.”
Following his Olympic career, Lindland crossed over into MMA and, alongside fellow wrestlers Randy Couture and Dan Henderson, founded the now famous Team Quest fight camp in Oregon. Lindland has had great success as both a fighter and a coach and he attributes it to his Olympic roots. There is no other sport in the world that molds young boys into men the way that wrestling does.
“We need to stop selling wrestling as a sport. As great of a sport as wrestling is, it is so much more than that and what it does for men in our culture and our society is amazing. This is a sport that truly allows men to develop some character and skills that will carry over for the rest of their lives,” Lindland said.
“They get the work ethic, dedication and self-confidence and certainly these young guys also learn self-reliance. You’re going out there and it’s one on one, you can’t pass the ball to somebody else or blame anyone else because it’s just you out there. These are all things that will carry over for the rest of your life whether you’re a father or you’re running a business, it doesn’t matter what you do these are the qualities that we need in our society.”
Unfortunately what it boils down to at the end of the day is money. The IOC believes that wrestling doesn’t draw enough and that is ultimately why they are removing it from their program. It doesn’t matter that wrestling is one of the biggest international sports in the world, it’s all about ratings and money which is not at all what the Olympics were originally built on.
“Wrestling is a sport where over 70 countries compete in, this isn’t about wrestling, this is about the IOC thinking they’re going to get another sport in there that’s going to get better TV ratings and make more money,” Lindland said.
“This has nothing to do with the Olympic spirit. I don’t know what came first, running or wrestling, it’s one of the two and to take wrestling out of the Olympics would be like taking running out of the Olympics.”