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Buscemi, Mark Ruffalo and Mario Lopez were in. A lot of these people, they weren’t able to commit the resources in time that I was able to but they would do whatever it is that they could do, to be interviewed, to send out a tweet, provide a quote or pro- vide an auction item.


USA Wrestler: You were at many events, such as the Rumble on the Rails in New York, United4Wrestling in Los Angeles, the World Team Trials in Stillwater and the vote in Buenos Aires. How hard was it for you to find the time? Baldwin: I just love it. I love the sport, I love the people and I love to be there when I can. The only time when I’m really not there is when I am on location shooting and it is physically not possible, or if I feel like being at another event will cut into my responsibilities and duties as a husband and a father. That rarely happens. When I tell my wife I am going to the nationals, she says don’t let the door hit you on the way out. She knows I always have a great time there and see my buddies. When I go to the nationals, I see my coach from junior high, high school and college. I see all the guys from wrestling I worked with at Tobay Beach. A lot of the lifeguards on Long Island are wrestling coaches. It’s one big family reunion. I haven’t been to a lot of international competitions, but I’ve seen plenty of freestyle and Greco. I keep showing up.


USA Wrestler: What was it like when you moderated the luncheon at the United Nations helping promote Olympic wrestling to diplomats and the UN press corps? Baldwin: In the circles we travel in with the collegiate and international wrestling universe, that was a classy, high-brow event. I was very pleased with that. A few days removed, I real- ized how big that was for us that the U.N. stepped up for the sport. It made a real statement to the international community. It is very rare for that to happen. To have the U.N. do that was another way that the IOC quickly got the message. I think at least the IOC General Assembly understood that they would have to correct the mistake that the Executive Board had made.


USA Wrestler: You were interviewed often, and wrote editori- als for the Keep Olympic Wrestling cause. How important was the public relations effort in helping wrestling win this fight? Baldwin: You look at the politics in Washington today. The


campaigns on both sides are about public relations, getting the information out there and putting the proper spin on it. If the IOC decision came out on February 12 and hit the ground with a thud and nobody cared, it wouldn’t have happened. The out- rage, the enthusiasm, all of that kept it in the media. You had gold medalists, coaches, politicians who spoke out. You have a diverse and eclectic cross section of different people spoke out in the media. We did a very effective job in keeping this story in the forefront of the global sporting consciousness. I was very pleased, and a little surprised, that this story had the global backlash outside of wrestling that it had and that it had the legs that it had in the global media. Even to this day, we still get great reports on how the PR community is tracking this story.


USA Wrestler: In your mind, is wrestling a stronger sport


after having gone through this incredible challenge? Baldwin: There are two answers to that. One is time will tell. The other is that we already are better. We have to really maxi- mize just how much we take advantage of the opportunity. This was the slap in the face wrestling needed. We still have to get it back in the core. There probably has to be more changes at FILA, which obviously is up to Lalovic to see what that means. Modernizing the sport is going to help. The presentation on tele-


vision will matter. I’d love to be on that committee and help them determine exactly what that will look like. I’d love a seat at the table to determine how it would be shot, the fabrics and the col- ors and the uniforms, the position of the referees.


USA Wrestler: How did you become involved in wrestling as a youth on Long Island, and why did you enjoy the sport? Baldwin: In two words. Al Bevilacqua. He was the high school wrestling coach in my town, and his son was my best friend. He taught at the same high school as my dad, who was a teacher and a high school football coach. My dad taught histo- ry and was football coach, and he taught phys ed and was the wrestling coach. The six Baldwin kids and the six Bevilacqua kids went to the crosstown rival schools. We used to play foot- ball against my dad, and wrestle against Bevy’s dad. He got me in the sport going to his camps when I was in fourth grade.


USA Wrestler: Tell us about your career in high school. Baldwin: I got a little more serious in junior high and in ninth grade, I had been wrestling with the same core group of kids since seventh grade. We were like a family. I absolutely loved the bond. I was good, the team was good, we liked our coach- es. I worked hard and I contributed. In high school, I wasn’t bad, I was conference champion, I won tournaments and I was an all-county wrestler. If I could look back, I would have continued to wrestle, but I would not have given up every sport to wrestle year round. I was a baseball player and good at it, and probably better than wrestling. I had the prototype body for baseball. I tell people I wrestled and people say, really? You?


USA Wrestler: How was your college career at Binghamton? Baldwin: A bunch of guys from Long Island went to Binghamton and we were all recruited together. I was a 167- pounder. The 158-pounder was a multiple All-American and the 177-pounder was a national champion. We all came in as fresh- men. That is how good those guys were. I am wrestling between a three-time All-American and a national champion every day. I wrestled for two years. I could have wrestled for four years. My father was ill and passed away my sophomore year in college. I started looking at things in my life differently. I wasn’t as serious about wrestling and my contribution to the team and Binghamton is tough academically, so I decided to focus more on my classes and my grades.


USA Wrestler: When did you decide you wanted to be an


actor, and were there any lessons you learned from wrestling which helped you establish yourself in the business? Baldwin: My brother (Alec) was doing a soap opera when I was at Binghamton. I thought I’d finish Binghamton with a degree in political science and go to law school. With my broth- er’s success, I went down to New York to spend time with him, and met a lot of talented and bright and dysfunctional people in show business, and I felt it was very interesting. I got bitten by the bug. I decided not to leave school, get my degree, not go to law school. I would take an acting class, give it a shot and see how it went. Values that are instilled in wrestling transcend the sport and served me well in virtually all aspects of my life. It was Gable who said once you wrestled, everything else is easy. It served me well as a husband, a father and in my career. It gave me the values of discipline, work ethic and mental toughness.


USA Wrestler: Why have you have chosen to remain active and give back to the sport? Baldwin: I love the connection. At some level, Hollywood


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