A Freestyle wrestling event in Los Angles to stir up interest for the sport is a great idea. Celebrities, and some of the best athletes amateur wrestling has to offer were there to show their support for amateur wrestling. In addition it was the debut of a much improved rule set... but the event was missing one thing... the right demographic.
Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the United States Population. Between 2000 and 2011 the Hispanic population in the United States grew by 48%, to around 52 Million people. In Los Angles county, 48% of the population is of Hispanic decent. So naturally team USA was wrestling Canadians, and Russians during this event, after the Iranians backed out at the last minute. Maybe they were still mad about the roll Hollywood played in "Argo." Anyone who has seen a USA vs. Mexico soccer game, or a popular Mexican boxer knows that Mexican fans can be among the most passionate in the world when it comes to supporting their country, and the sports that they love. Unfortunately it would not make sense to have the Mexican team compete against a powerful US, or Russian team on the mats today. Mexico has only had 3 Olympic wrestlers combined in the last three Olympic games, and have not won a single match. Two of the Three were actually born and raised in the USA, but used their parents heritage to qualify for the Mexican Wrestling team.
"Beat the Streets" is a great idea, but if you are trying to sell a product to a large, and growing ethnic group, it would be good if there was some Hispanic representation on the mats. Who could help sell this beside the current Mexican Wrestling team? Cain Velasquez, and Henry Cejudo are two well known wrestlers that come to mind. Both are children of Mexican Immigrants, had outstanding Amateur wrestling careers (I know Olympic Gold is much better than NCAA All-American, but both were successful) and are proud of their heritage. Another name comes to mind... Alberto Rodriguez, or as you might know him, Alberto Del Rio, the WWE Wrestler. MMA fans might know that he has a 9-5 record in MMA, and was head kicked into oblivion by Cro Cop back in Pride once. But he also once finished 3rd in the Junior World Championships in Greco Roman Wrestling, and was on track to participate in the 2000 Sydney Olympics before the support, and funding for the Mexican team dried up. Now he is one of WWE's biggest stars, and has a TV outlet for his voice, and message several times a week if they could get him on board with the campaign. From Brock Lesnar to Kurt Angle, WWE has capitalized on many amateur wrestlers over the years to bring in fresh talent for their roster, so they have some incentive to help the cause.
An improved Mexican wrestling team, would benefit USA Wrestling with a passionate, and close regional rival. Can you imagine the atmosphere in downtown LA, or Mexico City if there was a competitive match between Team USA, and Team Mexico, it would be electric. It will not happen over night, but USA wrestling should take some of the high profile opportunities it has to not only Save Olympic Wrestling, but potentially expand the sport among a growing demographic. It would also show that USA Wrestling, and the wrestling community is looking at the population trends, and how the sport can grow over the next 10-15 years.