U.S., Iranian and Russian national wrestling teams to compete in historic event at New York City

May 14, 2013

United in Wrestling U.S, Iranian and Russian national wrestling teams to compete in historic event at Vanderbuilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal, New York City on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013.

Story: USA Wrestling and Beat the Streets-New York, Inc. have announced that the United States, Iran, and Russia will come together in the spirit of competition for a friendly international wrestling competition Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at Vanderbuilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal in New York City. The event will also be a major opportunity for the “Keep Olympic Wrestling” movement and highlights the importance of a renewed relationship between the peoples of the United States and Iran.

Dubbed “Rumble on the Rails”, the event will be a showcased competition as part of the International Wrestling Federation’s (FILA) World Wrestling Month. “It is an exciting opportunity to show the world its ability to bring together nations of different political, cultural, and geographic backgrounds,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. “The unique venue as well as New York City’s status as a media capitol of the world will provide one of the most compelling showcase settings our sport has ever had. We are excited to participate in World Wrestling Month, and pleased to partner again with Beat the Streets New York to bring wrestling to new heights.”

Iran has competed in wrestling tournaments in the United States ten times in recent years, including twice in New York City. These events include the 1995 World Championships in Atlanta, 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the 1998 Junior World Championships in Primm Nevada, the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York City, and the 2003 World Championships in New York City. In addition, the Iranian team has competed in the World Cup held in the United States five times (1995 in Chattanooga, 1998 in Stillwater, 1999 in Spokane, 2000 in Fairfax, and 2001 in Baltimore).

The United States, Iran, and Russia are among the world’s best wrestling nations. Since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announcement that wrestling may not be a core sport in the 2020 Olympic Games, these three nations have worked closely together to help support Olympic wrestling. Although their governments do not always agree, the wrestling leaders in these nations have a strong working relationship.

“We are elated to bring together three nations this year to show not just how great the sport of wrestling is, but to exemplify how sport provides a common bond for countries who do not always see eye to eye on issues,” Beat the Streets Chairman Mike Novogratz said. “Like our dual meets in Times Square the past two years, ‘Rumble on the Rails’ will be an event that will transcend the power of wrestling, while raising much needed funds for inner city kids who participate in our Beat the Streets program year round. It will be a great night for our program and our sport, and an amazing night for the City of New York.”

Earlier this year, a wrestling tournament between the three competing countries was held in Tehran, Iran. When the United States wrestling team arrived at Imam Khomeini Airport on February 19th, 2013, they were greeted as honored guests. As an additional gesture, each American wrestler was handed a bouquet of flowers by the Iranians as they stepped off their plane. During the visit, Tehran Times, PressTV, Fars News Agency, ISNA, and other Iranian news outlets published very positive, supportive photos and articles regarding the event. Tehran Times reported, “Sports competition between the United States and Iran has been an example of how wrestling transcends politics and cultural differences.” It is statements like these that instill hope in the international community concerning improved relations with Iran.

Sporting is once again showing that despite political impasses, people of different cultures and beliefs can unite under a common interest. Iranian and American athletes are demonstrating at “Rumble on the Rails” the benefit of communication between the United States and Iran. The United States and Iran have much to offer one another in terms of social, cultural, economic, and political exchanges. The U.S. Department of State wishes the Iranian and American athletes the best of luck in this spirited competition. Follow updates from the tournament on the U.S Department of State Facebook, Google+ and Twitter pages with #iran.

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