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By Andy Hamilton, TrackWrestling
Andy Barth and Wayne Boyd have a big vision and a big purse of prize money and the co-founders of Titan Mercury Wrestling Club plan to have a lineup filled with big stars in August when they launch a new professional league.
The American Wrestling League is scheduled to debut Aug. 18 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with top American freestyle stars competing for what Boyd said will be a prize money purse of up to $100,000. The event will be streamed live on Trackwrestling.
“This is going to be the greatest wrestling show on earth,” Boyd said. “They’re going to be action-packed, high-scoring matches. … This is show business. This is entertainment. The only pressure is money. Who’s going to win the most money?”
Boyd said there will likely be 10 pro freestyle matches on the Cedar Rapids card with wrestlers getting $2,500 to compete and an additional $5,000 to win. His hope is to create a series of showcase matchups — he tossed out Kyle Snyder vs. J’den Cox and David Taylor against Alex Dieringer as possibilities — and build a league with four to six events a year in wrestling hotbeds.
Boyd said the plan is to eventually establish teams around the United States that will compete for a league championship.
Barth said there are some multi-pronged objectives behind the American Wrestling League.
“One is to popularize our sport and make our sport more viewer or fan friendly, more interesting and give the sport the opportunity to create more excitement, more personalities to draw more attention to wrestling,” he said. “The idea is not to do that just for the sake of drawing more attention to wrestling. If we’re able to do that, we feel we’ll be able to create the opportunity for more of our top wrestlers to really earn a living through their sport, to be able to support themselves and support their training.
“One of the things we want to do and why we at Titan Mercury are involved with the sport is really to help more American athletes achieve World and Olympic medals so that the U.S. can win more World championships and Americans can realize their dreams in the sport of wrestling. They’re all kind of connected in a way.”
Other professional wrestling leagues have come and gone and Boyd realizes there will be skeptics.
“I think people, for the most part, are going to say, ‘They’ve tried that before and it never worked,’” he said. “The difference is Wayne Boyd and Andy Barth are behind this and we know how to make things work. We proved that with Titan Mercury Wrestling Club.”
Barth said the American Wrestling League has “interest and a desire from really all the top wrestlers to be involved.”
“I think we’ve started to learn more and more about how the sport can be displayed in a way that’s exciting and interesting,” Barth said. “I think we’re going to need, in the early stages, to rely on the areas of the country where wrestling is extremely popular. If we put that together, I think we’ll be able to make it work.”