Duff was CEO of USA Weightlifting from 2011-12. Along with fundraising, he oversaw membership, sponsorship, media, donations, merchandise sales and more. Duff says he ran the organization like any public company, except all national governing bodies are 501c3 corporations and follow certain IRS rules/regulations and public disclosure requirements.
Whether in his sport or wrestling, he believes a national governing body's ability to raise funding is critical due to the fact that there is no government support for amateur sports in the United States. Unlike America, many countries that compete in Olympic sports allocate funding for their athletes.
“It takes money to recruit, train, coach athletes and officials, host national championship events, select national teams and cover the travel expenses for the team to compete in world championship events, world cups and other international competitions every year,” he said. “Olympics are every four years, but our national teams compete every year around the world.”
WWE Hall of Famer Gerald Brisco, and his WWE Hall of Fame brother Jack, made the transition from accomplished amateur wrestlers to successful pro wrestlers.
Brisco, a talent scout for WWE, recruits from the amateur wrestling ranks for the company’s developmental program (WWE NXT) based in Tampa.
Brisco, 66, woke up early the morning the Olympic news broke and was inundated by emails from friends in the sport.
“As WWE talent scout, I have a tremendous amount of contact with the amateur world,” said Brisco, who starred in amateur wrestling for Oklahoma State University. “Bobby Douglas, who was one of the coaches who participated in the Olympics and a part of the Olympics developmental program out in Colorado Springs, he was the first to let me know. I started getting calls from just about all over the country.
“As we move forward, there was so much initial reaction not only here in the United States, but Canada and others. The Russians were really upset about it. Japan too…I think it’s going to have to be a global fight to get it reinstated. Everybody needs to join forces on this thing…I think it’s going to unite everyone…”
Brisco joins others in the belief that wrestling was hurt by lack of representation on the 15-person committee.
“We say that we had no idea that wrestling was going to be on the chopping block, but to me that isn’t true,” Brisco said. “Four years ago they were thinking of dropping some of the Greco-Roman wrestling. FILA (International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles) got involved, the global governing body of amateur wrestling…Greco-Roman, freestyle were a part of the original seven-sport, five sports in the age of the Olympics…So when they say core sports to me, wrestling is one of the core sports. In the Olympic anthem, the second verse of the anthem has wrestling throughout. To me, it’s mind-boggling that they would drop it.”
The veteran grappler echoes the sentiments that the IOC recommendation was political. He thinks it will take influential leaders, media attention and a united front to put pressure on the organization to reinstate wrestling on the 2020 Games schedule. When it comes to reasoning that wrestling is potentially getting the axe due to low TV ratings, Brisco responds, “How can the sport get an audience when it’s put on at 3:30 or 4:30 in the morning with other sports like rhythmic gymnastics being shown on prime-time?”
“I have nothing against any of the sports that are in there, but there are a lot of sports to me that are hobby sports,” Brisco said. “The rifle shooting and things like that are recreational. One of the sports that wrestling would be competing against is wakeboarding. My youngest son (Wes) was sixth in the world a few years ago. I don’t know how global that sport is, but it has grown a lot since he was participating in it. To me, that is a sport you just do on a lake on an afternoon. Wrestling has so much history and so much behind it. Amateur wrestling is probably getting more publicity now than it has ever in the history of the sport. That is good. The negative has turned into the positive and really given exposure to get the national backing that we are receiving.”
In his role in WWE, Brisco says he is currently working with one from Oregon State and another from Missouri who are “high on the Olympic ladder”. They each have dreams of winning gold, but have to consider their options for the future pending the IOC’s decision. Brisco doesn’t think it will really have much of an impact with this generation, but looks at the juniors and seniors in high school.
“These kids who have that goal and have that dream, it would affect them,” Brisco said. “I was just went to the Florida State Championship in Lakeland this past weekend. There was a kid who won their fifth Florida state title and their dream is going to the Olympics…This would be devastating for these kids in the high school championship, that’s who it is really going to affect.
“Wrestling is probably the fastest growing participating sport in the state of Florida, and it’s nationwide. I don’t think it will drop because universities have kind of gotten over the Title IX disaster when they were dropping wrestling because they didn’t have an equal amount of women participation. Now they’ve added the programs these last few years, where it’s kind of bottomed out where it’s equal. It’s growing on the collegiate level, and I don’t think it will stop. The ones I’m worrying about, though, are the high school kids. We’ll see whether [dropping wrestling from the Olympics] and filters out where they say, ‘Well, I’ll go learn gymnastics or to twirl a ribbon.’”
• Visit http://www.impactwrestling.com/news/item/4073-TNA-IMPACT-WRESTLING-Raises-Voice-To-Save-Olympic-Wrestling for information on signing a petition to save Olympic wrestling. Show your support using the hashtag on Twitter: #SaveOlympicWrestling. http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/160048430814195/?fref=ts is one of many Facebook groups that you can join.
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