Coach’s Perspective by Steve Fraser: Look at Freestyle & Greco as equal chances

Updated: May 28, 2014

Do you know what it feels like to win an Olympic gold medal?
Do you want to leave your footprint on the face of wrestling in the USA? Consider this — more people have walked on the moon than Americans have won “Olympic gold” in the sport of Greco-Roman wrestling. The crazy question is “why?”
The United States of America has got the talented and hard-working athletes who can win in Greco! However, because of our overall U.S. mentality and focus, the vast majority of wrestlers are trying to make the Olympic freestyle team.
I am here to tell you… winning an Olympic medal — in either style of wrestling — holds the same unbelievable thrill and status. In fact, winning it in Greco might even mean more credibility, fame and status. To the non-wrestling fan, there seems to be a particular fascination with “Greco-Roman” wrestling.
I was watching an episode of “Kings of Queens” the other night, and when Spence and Danny decided they were going to wrestle, they said, “we are gonna throw down with some ‘Greco-Roman’ wrestling!”
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno or Late Night with David Letterman does not care if the Olympic medal was Greco-Roman or freestyle. To the world at large, winning an Olympic medal is spectacular!
I wrestled both freestyle AND Greco my entire career. The way I looked at it was … if I wrestle both styles, I’d be getting double the competition and training. How could that hurt me? That fact alone was going to help harden my resolve, strengthen my overall skills, and improve my cardio-vascular and muscular conditioning.
I learned through the years to love both styles. I actually won the freestyle nationals in 1984, the same year I won the Greco Olympic Games. I beat Bill Scherr in the finals in freestyle and lost to Mike Houck in the national finals in Greco. My goal was to make both Olympic Teams.
In the final Olympic Trials, which took place at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., I was scheduled to wrestle Greco first before I was scheduled to wrestle freestyle. After I beat my opponents including Mark Johnson and Mike Houck, to make the Greco Olympic Team, I decided to drop out of the final freestyle trials. I decided, at that very moment, that I was happy to have made the team in Greco and decided to focus the rest of my summer on Greco in preparation for the Los Angeles Olympics.
Of course, I would have still had my “work cut out for me” if I was to make the freestyle team as well. I was sitting in the third step on the ladder system and still had to beat Ed Banach and Mitch Hull to make the freestyle team.
I am totally convinced that because I wrestled in both styles during my career it helped make it possible for me to win the Olympic gold medal in one of the styles.
With wrestling dropped from the Olympics….something was almost taken from you last year with the sport being temporarily dropped from the Olympics Games. You fought hard for wrestling. Don’t miss your chance. This year is the time to act. Think of where we are at in regards to the Olympic four-year cycle. When are you going to make your move?
The 2014 United States Greco-Roman World Team Trials are scheduled June 13-15 in Daytona Beach, Fla., two weeks after the freestyle World Team Trials, May 30-31, in Madison, Wisc. Go for it! Wrestle Greco, regardless if you have been wrestling freestyle. It may open up a whole new world for you.
The main stream of society mostly asks, “Did you go to the Olympics?” The color of $250,000 (Living the Dream Fund) is gold! Tell me what style it is. Wrestling is wrestling, Greco or freestyle. Keep in mind there are only six Olympic weight classes now in each style. Think logically… an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal!
You have a chance to make history. Greg Gibson, who wrestled 100 kilos for the U.S. back in the 1980s, won five world medals in his career. Greg won two silver and one bronze medal in freestyle; one silver in Greco (Olympics 1984); and one gold medal in Sambo. However, no American has won Olympic medals in both freestyle and Greco.
Go get that $250,000! Go get that Olympic medal! Act now before it’s too late.