“My initial reaction was that it was so crazy that it had to be a publicity stunt — a way to drum up attention,” said DerGarabedian, who compiled a 92-8-1 record at BHS before going on to compete for the
University of Michigan. “Wrestling is a sport that demonstrates agility, fitness, strength and mental strategy. These skills are the core of all Olympic sports. There is no logical reason for the recommendation made by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board. We intend to fully challenge the board’s position.”
To many in the wrestling world, the board’s move was akin to the cancellation of football’s Super Bowl or soccer’s World Cup. Like all sports, wrestling has other championships besides the Olympics, but success at the Games has long represented the pinnacle of achievement for wrestlers who have finished with National Collegiate Athletic Association competition.
“The Olympics are the ultimate prize for any wrestler,” DerGarabedian said. “The NCAA is the local thing, but after wrestlers graduate college, it’s what everyone dreams of.”
The Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling will meet for the first time in Des Moines, Iowa, later this month. DerGarabedian said that there is not yet a formal agenda, but he recently took part in a conference call, during which committee members discussed a variety of ideas. He said he favors an aggressive approach — perhaps even threatening to start a competition that would compete with the Olympics, and place “core sports” like wrestling on the main stage.
The committee will make its case to the IOC in May, before a final decision is announced in September. Knowledgeable observers do not like wrestling’s odds of being reinstated, believing that the IOC is unlikely to reverse a decision it made only months ago. Still, DerGarabedian, founder of the Teeth of the Dog Wrestling Club and a member of Friends of Long Island Wrestling, says that in his work as a trial attorney, he has grown accustomed to standing up for the underdog.