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Billy Baldwin GARY ABBOTT’S MATSIDE CHAT WITH...


One of the prominent figures in the Keep Olympic Wrestling


effort was actor Billy Baldwin, a member of CPOW and active in the effort in many ways. A Long Island high school wrestler and a college wrestler at Binghamton, Baldwin has remained active in the sport as a leader for many years. His prominent position as a Hollywood actor has helped bring wrestling into the public spotlight. He was an alumni leader which helped save the program at Binghamton and build it into success. His efforts on behalf of Olympic wrestling were among the reasons that the sport was able to win the IOC vote and retain its Olympic status.


USA Wrestler: How important was the work of USA Wrestling


and CPOW in helping wrestling to win the vote in Buenos Aires, Argentina which retained wrestling on the Olympic program? Baldwin: There are two answers, what I know and what I


don’t know. I didn’t have the behind the scenes access like a Jim Scherr, Bill Scherr or a Rich Bender had. I am an insider as a member of CPOW member but not in the inner sanctum. From what I observed, it was very, very significant and they may have played an even far greater role. It seems like USA Wrestling and CPOW had the ear of President Lalovic, the attention of FILA and the IOC. I was impressed by that. I was pleased USA Wrestling and CPOW had a seat at the table, that their voice was appreciated and respected. When it got down to some of the stuff like the recommendations for the rules, when you are trying to figure out how to modernize wrestling, to make it better for audiences and better for television and from an entertainment perspective, I don’t think anybody around the world knows how to do that better than the Americans.


USA Wrestler: What was your reaction when you heard that


the IOC Executive Board had recommended that wrestling be removed as a core sport from the Olympic Games in February? Baldwin: I was surprised and angered. I remember sending


out an email to my wrestling database about it that day. Another part of me was dismayed, like what were they thinking? Another part of me was comfortable and confident that we’d get back. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t add up. Your whole life you are taught two plus two is four and the world is round, then all of a sudden you are told two plus two is five and the earth is flat. It just defied logic. I thought it would not be that difficult to get these people to come back to their senses. When I got behind the scenes with CPOW and we started to learn some of the subtleties and intricacies of why they came to that decision, it was really interesting to me.


USA Wrestler: How did you learn about CPOW, and why did


you decide be a leader on the committee? Baldwin: I was thrilled and honored to be a part of it. I was at


the NCAAs as always at Des Moines. I was entering the arena and I saw Bill Scherr answering some phone calls between ses- sions. We are friends. This issue was pretty fresh in mid-March. Bill said, by the way, we formed this committee and were meet- ing at nationals, and that they would love to have you sit in. If you feel compelled to throw your two cents, do it. They saw the


24 USA Wrestler


Actor Billy Baldwin, a high school and college wrestler, played a big role in the Olympic fight. Tony Rotundo photo.


potential value I might have as a role player. I used to call it the four c’s: cash, contacts, commitment and celebrity. I fulfill three of those. I could give money, raise money and I can help with my celebrity and the celebrity of others. I could help raise awareness and keep this at the forefront of the global con- sciousness.


USA Wrestler: How much support did you receive from celebrity public figures, and what motivated them to give the time and lend their name to wrestling? Baldwin: It all defied logic. There were like 75 comments on


the Yahoo article on the topic on February 13 and in five hours, there were 5,000 comments. I kept scrolling page after page. A lot of them were wrestlers, but a lot were people who never wrestled. They said this is like April Fools Day. This makes absolutely no sense. To not have wrestling in the Olympics is like not having fireworks on the Fourth of July. They go hand in hand. A lot of my friends in the business, such as Jay Leno said he was in and Ashton Kutcher said he was in and Steve


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