POSTED: May 1st 2013
SpeakingUp

Wrestling gets Hollywood treatment with help from Billy Baldwin

Billy Baldwin in the movie A Plumm Summer / William Baldwin.net
Billy Baldwin in the movie A Plumm Summer / William Baldwin.net

CHAD WISE / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Billy Baldwin wants to use his notoriety and Hollywood connections to keep wrestling in the Olympic Programme, The Associated Press reports.

A former wrestler at Binghamton University, the actor joined USA Wrestling’s Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling recently as a “Hollywood point person.”

“You can take the young man out of wrestling,” Baldwin told The Associated Press. “But you can’t take wrestling out of the young man.”

Baldwin has wrestled since his high school days in Massapequa, N.Y. He was coached by Al Bevilacqua, who now works with Beat the Streets USA to develop wrestling in urban areas. Bevilacqua is launching an exhibition with the United States, Russia and Iran in New York this month.

“Wrestling was kind of like my life when I was in 10th, 11th and 12th grade,” Baldwin said. “I ran with this pack of like 15 guys and we were all going through it together. All of the skin infections and the cauliflower ear and the injuries, we all went through it together and we formed a really tight fraternity.”

Though he only wrestled at Binghamton University for two years before realising he was not a “big-time college wrestler,” Baldwin hopes his fame through acting can push the Olympic wrestling movement further by joining forces with Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Mark Spitz, Janet Evans, Bruce Jenner, Carl Lewis, Michael Phelps, Mary Lou Retton, John McEnroe and others to spread the sport’s message.

“There’s a lot of appeal to having these famous people step up, and to have these Olympic legends stand up on behalf of a sport they’ve never competed in,” Baldwin said. “But they get it. They respect and understand how important this is.”

With USA Wrestling’s Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling, Baldwin will help keeping the sport’s dilemma ever-present to the public, and has recruited Ashton Kutcher, Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Mario Lopez, Mark Ruffalo, and other celebrities to aid in the cause.

The International Olympic Committee will vote in May on wrestling’s Olympic future, though Baldwin understands a few celebrities is not all the sport needs for reinstatement. By forming a throng of celebrities and international sports figures, Baldwin wants to keep wrestling’s struggle in the media to remind the world of the sport’s value for young people.

"The work ethic and the discipline and the mental toughness transcend the sport of wrestling,” Baldwin said. “And later in life, when you are crossing bridges and fighting your way through adversity as a husband and a father in the pursuit of your life’s interest and your career, that will come back to serve you well.”        


Keywords · Billy Baldwin · Wayne Gretzky · Magic Johnson · Olympics · Wrestling · International Olympic Committee · IOC · Al Bevilacqua · John McEnroe · Mark Spitz · Janet Evans · Bruce Jenner · Carl Lewis · Michael Phelps · Mary Lou Retton · Ashton Kutcher · Steve Buscemi · Alec Ba


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