Aug 31, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of the UCLA campus before the football game against the Nevada Wolf Pack. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Catch Wrestling Makes History At UCLA

On Saturday June 7, UCLA was host to an event the likes of which have not been seen in the United States for over 100 years. The Wooden Center was the place to be as Catch Wrestling Alliance held their ‘1st Annual International Invitational Catch Wrestling Event’ produced by UCLA alumnus, Dr. Raul Ramirez of Nei Jing Eastern MedicineThe Catch Wrestling Alliance is “an organization that works with the highest level Catch Wrestlers from around the world with the goal of reviving the sport of Catch-As-Catch-Can Wrestling”, and this showing at UCLA was the beginning.

The event started with Mike Chapman, an authority on the sport of wrestling, giving a brief history during the introduction. In addition, Chapman brought several collectibles and memorabilia from his collection in Iowa, which were on display for public viewing. Chapman has written 15 books on wrestling, the most notable Frank Gotch: An American Hero, which chronicles the life of the famed turn of the century wrestler. With that in mind, it was almost perfect when Chapman stated in his speech:

You are witnessing history.

Also in attendance were a few well known individuals in the wrestling world. NCAA Champion and three-time Iowa State University All-American Gordon Hussman, former UFC Champion Josh Barnett and filmmaker Jim Townsend were all at UCLA to witness the coming of a new age in wrestling. Townsend is said to be pursuing a new feature project based on Chapman’s book about Frank Gotch.

The matches themselves were something to behold. The sheer athleticism of the sport was on display when each participant got on the mat and tried to grind down their opponent. Several female and male wrestlers, who ranged in size and weight class, had used their respective teachings from around the globe to try and best their opponent in this one-of-a-kind event that was billed: USA vs the World. Here are the results of each match:

Match 1: Brooklyn Thomson (CAN) defeated Xochi Wilder (US)

Match 2: Kyle Johnson (US) and Malcolm Tisdale (CAN) came to a draw

Match 3: Ned Morales (US) defeated Stephen Greenfield (Wales)

Match 4: Amin Nazer (UK) defeated Christopher Morales (US)

Match 5: Colleen Schneider (US) defeated Jennifer Thomas (US)

Match 6: Adam Laporte (CAN) defeated Jon Strickland (US)

Match 7: Curran Jacobs (US) defeated Christopher Crossen (UK)

Match of the Night: Xochi Wilder vs. Brooklyn Thomson

Winners of each match received an award in honor of Catch Wrestlers and Promoters of the past, which included: Billy Riley, Martin "Farmer" Burns, Joe Stetcher, Billy Wicks and Frank Gotch. The event, which took a little over two hours, slowly grew in excitement and intensity with every match. The crowd really started to drum up emotion when they began to understand the raw power of the sport. The physicality and athleticism was infectious and one could not help but cheer on these individuals. At the end of those two hours, the Wooden Center was loud. 

The event ended with each contestant going around and giving praise to their fellow wrestlers, congratulating each other, posing for photo opportunities and taking time to revel in the history that they made. Everyone of them should be proud, this was an incredible  feat they pulled off, especially with the help of Dr.Ramirez. They are the pioneers of a resurging light in the world of sports. 

Mike W.R.

Twitter: @TheBigDisco

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