Rich Bender, executive director of Colorado Springs-based USA Wrestling, has a vision for an event at the new downtown soccer stadium.
“Wrestling the Russians or the Iranians at the base of Pikes Peak would be kind of cool,” he said. “A meet in the middle of a soccer field.”
Bender met with Switchbacks president Nick Ragain early this month to talk about possible events at the stadium, scheduled to open in 2020.
“I’ll tell you what, we’re really excited about the outdoor stadium,” Bender said. “We’ve been thinking awhile of doing an outdoor wrestling event at the base of America’s Mountain.
“You don’t think of wrestling as an outdoor sport, right? We’re traditionally held indoors, but we’ve had events and matches in the middle of Times Square in New York City to raise our relevancy a little bit.”
Bender envisions 10 or 15 mats being set up at the soccer stadium. His first choice for opponents, he said, would be wrestlers from Russia and Iran, where wrestling is extremely popular.
Bender and Ragain did not discuss specific dates for a possible outdoor wrestling event. Bender has traveled to Russia and Iran with American wrestlers for competition.
Ragain said he has also talked with USA Basketball and USA Volleyball — both traditionally indoor sports — about staging outdoor competition at the stadium. He said USA Basketball leaders mentioned a possible 3 on 3 tournament at the stadium. (In 2020, 3 on 3 basketball will be an Olympic event at the Tokyo Games.)
“There’s been a lot of very positive feedback,” Ragain said. “People want to be involved.”
Bender believes his wrestling vision could come true.
“This is the event we want to do,” he said. “We had serious discussions.”