Skip to content

Get ready for the “Rumble on the Rails”

May 14, 2013, 11:49 AM EDT

Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S., Iranian, and Russian wrestling teams are set to square-off Wednesday at New York’s historic Grand Central Station for “The Rumble on the Rails,” in hopes that their competitive cooperation can save their beloved sport from being removed from the 2020 Olympic Games.

“In this crisis, we all stick together. Wrestlers maybe can do, sometimes, what politicians cannot,” FILA President Nenad Lalovic told the AP. “We love our sport, and we are united to save it.”

Wrestling was recommended for removal during an IOC vote in February, where it was last in all five rounds after executive board members scrutinized everything from ticket sales, to anti-doping policies, TV ratings, and worldwide popularity.

But a community of Olympic, amateur, pro wrestlers, and MMA fighters have rallied around the effort to #KeepOlympicWrestling. Now the three teams, which combined for 21 medals in London last summer, including nine gold, will attempt to show the world why their sport deserves to be in the Games.

The athletes will also hold a pre-meet press conference at the United Nations before heading down the street to compete at Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall for the competition, which will include a dual freestyle meet between the U.S. and Iran followed by a meet between the U.S. and Russia featuring both freestyle and Greco-Roman. USA Wrestling is also planning to include some rules changes as part of an international effort to show how the sport can evolve for a new audience.

The event will be the first time the Iranian team competed on American soil in ten years. The two teams wrestled at a meet in Tehran back in February, with the American team shaking hands and taking pictures with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an awards ceremony after the event.

Relations between Iran and the U.S. have been fractured since protestors stormed the American embassy and held 52 people hostage in 1979. But they’re standing “arm-in-arm” for the sake of wrestling.

“It is an exciting opportunity for wrestling to show the world its ability to bring together nations of different political, cultural and geographic backgrounds,” USA Wrestling’s Rich Bender said last month.

Wrestling’s efforts have been compared to the famous “Ping-pong Diplomacy” of the early-1970s, when U.S. and Chinese players competed against one another in friendly tournaments that are believed to have paved the way for then President Nixon to visit Beijing.

Wrestling fans can catch “The Rumble on the Rails” live on NBC Sports Network Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET, and a dual meet between the U.S. and Russia on Universal Sports Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. ET

Latest Posts
  1. Meb Keflezighi congratulated by President Obama

    Apr 22, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Meb Keflezighi AP

    How Keflezighi spent the morning after his upset victory.

  2. Ryan Hall, other U.S. runners wouldn’t help East Africans catch Meb Keflezighi

    Apr 22, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT

    Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi AP

    Americans’ tactic played small role in Keflezighi’s victory.

  3. Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski added to NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT

    Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski Getty Images

    Sochi figure skating analysts will be fashion experts at Churchill Downs.

  4. Apolo Ohno plans to do Ironman World Championships

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT

    Apolo Anton Ohno AP

    Ohno follows NFL wide receiver, celebrity chef in ambitious attempt.

  5. Lance Armstrong’s longtime team manager banned 10 years

    Apr 22, 2014, 8:21 AM EDT

    Johan Bruyneel AP

    Johan Bruyneel guided Lance Armstrong’s teams for all seven stripped Tour de France wins.

  6. Emotions flow for runners, spectators at Boston Marathon

    Apr 21, 2014, 8:42 PM EDT

    Boston Strong AP

    “I needed it for healing,” one survivor said.

  7. Meb Keflezighi stuns to win Boston Marathon (video)

    Apr 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Meb Keflezighi AP

    First U.S. man to win Boston Marathon since 1983.

  8. 2014 Boston Marathon highlights: American Meb Keflezighi, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo win (VIDEO)

    Apr 21, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    2014 B.A.A. Boston Marathon Getty Images

    Meb Keflezighi made history on an emotional day at the 2014 Boston Marathon by becoming the first American man to win the race since 1983. Watch highlights of the 38-year-old Keflezighi’s victory here, courtesy of Universal Sports: Keflezighi reacts to his historic win and the emotion of winning one year after the Boston Marathon bombing,…

  9. Rita Jeptoo repeats as Boston Marathon winner in course record

    Apr 21, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT

    Rita Jeptoo Getty Images

    Shalane Flanagan led early but was dropped around 21 miles.

  10. Tatyana McFadden wins another Boston Marathon on special day

    Apr 21, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT

    Tatyana McFadden AP

    Paralympic champion prevails one month after winning silver in Sochi.

  11. Security heightened early at Boston Marathon

    Apr 21, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

    Boston Marathon AP

    Double the police presence from last year.

  12. Tedy Bruschi, retired NFL player, running Boston Marathon

    Apr 21, 2014, 9:38 AM EDT

    Tedy Bruschi Getty Images

    Former linebacker ran in 2012 and saw the first bomb from a hotel last year.

  13. Boston Marathon starts after moment of silence

    Apr 21, 2014, 9:07 AM EDT

    Boston Strong

    Race starts by honoring those lost and those who saved at last year’s race.

  14. Boston Marathon finish line web cam available online

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Boston Marathon finish line Getty Images

    Watch every runner cross the finish line on Monday.

  15. Ryan Hall returns to marathon racing in Boston, by way of Ethiopia

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT

    Ryan Hall Getty Images

    Two-time Olympian hasn’t run a marathon since the London Games.

  16. Boston Marathon to move forward with traditional spectacle of a finish

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:41 PM EDT

    Boston Marathon

    All eyes will be on a changed Boylston Street on Monday.

  17. Boston Marathon TV, race schedules

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Boston Marathon finish line Getty Images

    Universal Sports will have live coverage and is on a free preview nationwide.

  18. Boston Marathon men’s preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Lelisa Desisa AP

    Monday’s race figures to come down to two men.

  19. Boston Marathon women’s preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Shalane Flanagan AP

    An American with Massachusetts ties wants to win.

  20. Miracle on Ice hockey player selling his Olympic gold medal

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:59 PM EDT

    Mark Pavelich medal

    Mark Wells previously sold his gold medal, too.

Featured video

Inside Michael Phelps' comeback