Gritty. Palpable. Fervor. These are the themes that came to mind as I stood mat side at The Forum in Inglewood to watch the finals of the Freestyle World Cup of Wrestling. The US Team had made its way into the finals after a variety of victories over Cuba, Russia and Mongolia. On paper much of wrestling’s odds makers had slated the red-white-and-blue for a bronze medal finish. Yet, through a gritty performance Team USA, comprised of 3-of-8 starters wrestling in their first World Cup, managed to get within a single individual win of claiming the first World Cup title in what would have been 12 years. Unfortunately, for us Americans and the US men, we came up short. For wrestling fans worldwide, as witness to the spectacle of sport, it felt like a win.
The atmosphere in the arena was palpable. The air laced with horns brought by the Iranian fans was loud and piercing. My ears still rang the day after.
Wrestling has an inherent push-pull movement, but the oscillation of energy in the building came from the crowd as it swayed back-and-forth from pro Team Iran to pro Team USA, only shifting to neutral during the live broadcast’s ‘TV-timeout’ between matches.
I can only imagine what spectacle may be in store for the World Championships come September in Las Vegas.
Thank you Team USA, thank you Team Iran, and thank you to the other six countries who traveled far for the 2015 World Cup.
Check out my full album of photos here.
For complete results visit United World Wrestling.