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Jordan Burroughs fights to save wrestling

Mar 8, 2013, 8:11 AM EDT

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

While a number of retired wrestlers have turned in their medals in protest of the IOC’s decision to eliminate their sport from the 2020 Games, London freestyle champ Jordan Burroughs is using his words and stature instead, as he attempts to help save his sport from extinction.

Along with giving interviews, tweeting regularly, and showing solidarity with his Iranian wrestling brothers after winning a World Cup event in Tehran last month, Burroughs is working with the Committee to Preserve Olympic Wrestling to keep the conversation alive among fans of the sport.

“I’m just doing as much as I can to continue to allow this decision to be in the spotlight,” Burroughs told the AP. “I think Americans, as a nation and culture, once something is recognized for a week or two people kind of forget about.”

But it’ll take more than a couple well-placed smiles to win against the seven other prospective sports in two IOC votes, and Burroughs thinks wrestling, one of the Olympics oldest events, will need to show that it’s willing to modernize, much like squash has recently shown in its bid.

And apparently everything is on the table, including significant chances to Greco-Roman like adding leg holds. CPOW has also talked about changing the international match set of three two-minute rounds to one five-minute round, and making tweaks to the overtime format and the controversial ball-clinch rule.

“We’re definitely going to overhaul the sport. Make some rules changes to hopefully make it more exciting,” Burroughs added. “It’s tough. But people want to see more action. More points being scored.”

Winning both the May and September IOC votes after getting ousted will take the cooperation of wrestlers worldwide, and Burroughs believes that, while the decision has alarmed the group, it’s definitely put them all in lock-step toward a common goal.

“We’re competitors on the mat. But with the decision by the IOC, now everyone is coming together.”

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