May 22, 2013

Successful “United 4 Wrestling” meet achieves Semnani Family Foundation’s core concepts of improving international people-to-people relations and promoting worthy causes through philanthropy.

Celebrating its 20th year as an international humanitarian organization based in Salt Lake City, the Semnani Family Foundation was the sponsor of “United 4 Wrestling,” one of two wrestling events in the U.S. in the past week to promote the campaign to keep wrestling in the Olympics in 2020 and beyond. The meet was staged in cooperation with California USA Wrestling and Beat the Streets – Los Angeles. As part of World Wrestling Month, the U.S. also hosted Iran and Russia in “The Rumble on the Rails” at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal on May 15.

“The entire wrestling community really came together to make the United 4 Wrestling event in Los Angeles a tremendous success,” said Rich Bender, executive director of USA Wrestling. “It was an exciting and important event that assisted in our effort to promote World Wrestling Month and help keep wrestling in the Olympic Games. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Semnani Family Foundation for their generosity, support and sponsorship of this great international competition.”

“United 4 Wrestling” featured a celebrity red carpet – hosted by actor Billy Baldwin and featuring the likes of actor/comedian Tom Arnold, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) legend and former wrestler Randy Couture – before showcasing 13 wrestling matches involving men’s and women’s wrestlers from the U.S., Russia and Canada national teams and four additional matches featuring some of the finest youth wrestlers in California.

“I congratulate the American, Russian, Canadian and California youth wrestlers for their participation in a historic event such as United 4 Wrestling,” Semnani Family Foundation founder Khosrow Semnani said. “Seeing wrestling brothers and sisters in arms, shaking hands and binding together as one, along with the fervent support of a large, enthusiastic crowd, to support a common cause was a beautiful thing. The goodwill and sportsmanship on and off the wrestling mat epitomizes what the Semnani Family Foundation stands for.”

Past American Olympic wrestlers attending “United 4 Wrestling” included four-time Olympic champion Bruce Baumgartner, two-time Olympic champion John Smith, 1972 Olympic champion Dan Gable, 1996 Olympic champion Tom Brands and 2008 Olympic champ Henry Cejudo. The Semnani Family Foundation also hosted a welcome reception for the wrestlers in Beverly Hills on Saturday evening.

“The Beat The Streets event in New York and this United 4 Wrestling event were the biggest (wrestling) events of the year,” said 2012 Olympic champion and 2011 World champion Jordan Burroughs. “I thought it was a lot better here (in Los Angeles), and the crowd was younger. The crowd was awesome. It was electric. It’s cool to be a part of this. People love wrestling. It’s a tight-knit community in wrestling.”

Initially, the U.S. was to compete in a friendly dual against the Iranian national team in “United 4 Wrestling,” but a schedule change prompted the Iran team to return home after competing in New York City. Russian and Canadian wrestlers flew in at the last minute to compete and show solidarity for USA Wrestling’s Keep Olympic Wrestling and the 2020 Vision: Wrestling, Keep the Dream Alive campaigns in front of a knowledgeable and spirited crowd.

Said Semnani: “The New York City event was a fine example of how sports transcends politics. U.S. and Iranian wrestlers showed respect and sportsmanship toward one another, and we appreciate the Iranian team traveling to New York to join Americans and Russians in what was a victory for wrestling. Even without Iran wrestling on Sunday, many Iranians still came out to watch some of the best wrestling has to offer in Los Angeles.

“Wrestling is a special, unique landscape which demonstrates friendships between common citizens of the United States and Iran. As an Iranian-American citizen, I value the people-to-people relationships between the American people and Iranian-Americans and others of Iranian descent. Improving these relations is one of my personal missions in life. I am living proof that the triumph of the human spirit far supersedes the stereotypical sentiment."

Toward the movement to keep wrestling as a core sport in the Olympics, Baldwin – a spokesman for USA Wrestling’s Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) – has gained the endorsements of his brother, Alec Baldwin, actors Ashton Kutcher, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, Arnold, Matthew Modine, Nate Parker and Steve Buscemi, entertainment TV host Mario Lopez, comedian Jay Mohr, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) athletes Chael Sonnen and Couture, and former NFL player Mike Golic.

"United 4 Wrestling was a celebration not only of sport, not only of culture, but a celebration of people,” Billy Baldwin said. “It is a sport that is on every continent and that transcends all political, socio-economic and cultural boundaries. The international wrestling community owes a debt of gratitude to Khosrow Semnani and the Semnani Family Foundation for their generosity and ongoing support for the great sport of wrestling and for helping to provide this shining example of why wrestling should be part of the Olympic Games for 2020 and beyond." On Feb. 12, the International Olympic Committee Executive Board made a recommendation that wrestling not be a core sport at the 2020 Olympic Games. A final decision on the program of the 2020 Olympics will be made by the entire IOC in September. A global effort has been launched by FILA (, the international wrestling organization which represents 177 member nations and 10 million wrestlers worldwide, to retain wrestling as an Olympic sport.

Wrestling was one of the sports in the first ancient Olympic Games in Greece, dating back to 776 B.C., and the first Modern Olympics, in 1896. At the 2012 Olympics, 71 countries competed in wrestling and 29 countries medaled. The Semnani Family Foundation seeks to continue as an active partner in the coalition supporting CPOW and FILA.

"United 4 Wrestling turned out to be an outstanding event that showcased the excitement, passion and broad-based support for Olympic wrestling,” said Andy Barth, president of Beat The Streets – Los Angeles. “The Semnani Family Foundation was a rock-solid partner at every twist and turn. I am personally thankful for its help and for having the opportunity to build a friendship with the family and staff of the foundation."


The Semnani Family Foundation focuses on tackling questions of global health, poverty and disaster relief, with particular emphasis on protecting women and children. During the past 20 years, the foundation has collaborated with more than 550 non-profit organizations in projects ranging from famine and earthquake relief to the establishment of vaccination programs and health clinics.

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