MOSCOW, Russia (May 18, 2013) – Nenad Lalovic of Serbia was elected as the new President of FILA, the international wrestling federation, as part of the FILA Extraordinary Congress held on Saturday in the capital city of Russia.
Lalovic, who was named as FILA’s Acting President in February after the resignation of former President Raphael Martinetti, challenged leaders of the 111 national wrestling federations which attended, to embrace change in the unified effort to keep wrestling on the Olympic program.
“What goes on in this room today and the days that follow will determine if we are an Olympic sport after 2016. We have been given a strong message by the IOC. How we answer that message will determine if our future includes the Olympic Games. We need to convince the IOC that we will listen to them. We are strong enough to change,” said Lalovic.
Lalovic was chosen by the FILA Bureau on Friday night as the nominee for the FILA President position. He was presented to the Congress, which had the ability to either vote for him or against him by private ballot.
In presenting Lalovic, FILA Vice President Dr. Metteo Pellicone of Italy said that “Mr. Lalovic did everything possible to overcome our situation and maintain the position of wrestling on the Olympic program.”
The vote to approve Lalovic was 125 for and 7 against, making him the seventh president in the history of FILA.
“I thank you for your trust and confidence,” said Lalovic upon his election.
During his acceptance speech, Lalovic gave all of those at the FILA Congress a small gift. He said that the person in that envelope would be responsible for putting the changes in wrestling into effect. The gift was a small mirror.
“This is a family, full of those with pride and passion. And Strength. We showed that strength today. And we showed Wisdom. And we showed that we have this opportunity , and like wrestlers on the mat, we are going to take advantage of this chance to score. Today is the first step on the road to continue in the Olympic Games. To continue that dream for all those young men and women,” said Lalovic.
FILA approved a new set of rules, which will be put in place immediately, starting with any competitions held on Sunday, May 19. There are some differences between Greco-Roman and freestyle, but there were many specific rule changes which affect both styles. They include:
- Cumulative score for the entire bout
- The structure of the match is for two three-minute periods
- A takedown is worth two points, making it more valuable than a point for the pushout or a penalty point.
- There is a difference in what a technical fall will be. In freestyle, it will be a difference of 10 points, while in Greco-Roman, it will be a difference of seven points.
- There will be separation of returning athletes from the previous World Championships, although it has not yet been determined if it will be just the two top two athletes or as many as four athletes.
In freestyle, the first passivity call will be awarded with a verbal warning. In the second instance of a passivity call, a 30-second clock will begin. If no athlete scores in that 30 seconds, a caution and a point will be awarded to the opponent of the passive athlete. In addition, if no athlete scores in the first two minutes of a period, referees must select one of the wrestlers as passive. In this situation, the passive wrestler must score within 30 seconds or the opponent receives a point.
In Greco-Roman, the process for enforcing passivity was different. The first violation is a warning. The second results in a caution, with the opponent able to choose either par terre or a standing position. The third violation results in a point to the opponent. On the fourth passivity, the bout is terminated and the active wrestler is awarded a victory by fall.
There was much discussion during the Congress whether the new rules would be implemented immediately, or on January 1, 2014. The FILA Bureau, in its meetings on Friday, agreed to start the rules right away. At the conclusion of this discussion, Lalovic confirmed that the rules will change tomorrow, and that the new rules will be in force at the 2013 World Championships in Budapest.
The changes in the FILA constitution included more representation and inclusion of women and athletes in the governance of FILA. As part of the new constitution, at least one woman will become a FILA Vice-President. The new FILA Bureau will include 19 elected members, including three seats reserved for women and three seats reserved for Olympic and/or World Champions.
The new FILA Constitution will include 15 different commissions, including some new commissions and a restructuring of some of the existing commissions. Among the new commissions are the Women and Sport Commission and a Sport-for-All Commission. The new structure will also split into two different commissions from the previous Marketing, Sponsoring, TV, Internet and Press Department into a commission for Marketing and Sponsoring and a separate Media Commission. The Athletes Commission will be expanded and revised, providing more input from athletes in the FILA decision-making process.
The Congress confirmed the decision of the FILA Bureau for the elimination of Grappling and Amateur Mixed Martial Arts as recognized styles of wrestling under FILA management. Existing contracts for events, such as the upcoming World Championships in Canada, will be honored. However, FILA will not host events in these styles after this year. Pankration and Beach Wrestling will remain as non-Olympic styles of wrestling under FILA’s jurisdiction.
For the first time, FILA invited the media to attend and cover the FILA Congress. There were 94 media members from 43 outlets who were accredited for the event.
Some 200 wrestlers competing in the East Japan collegiate wrestling league championship tourney in Tokyo joined in the appeal to save Olympic wrestling with the 922,169 persons who have signed a petition calling for the preservation of the ages old sport in the Olympic Games.
The event was staged on May 15 at Tokyo's Komazawa Gymnasium, the venue for the wrestling competition at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. It was the second day of the university league championship, the biggest annual event in collegiate wrestling in eastern Japan.
About 200 wrestlers from 16 universities participating in the league's dual-meet championships took to the floor of Komazawa Gymnasium along with Tomiaki Fukuda, president of the Japan Wrestling Federation, Yuji Takada, 1976 Olympic champion and JWF general secretary, and Hiroshi Hase, JWF vice president, for the event.
Saori Yoshida, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and Kazuhito Sakae, head of the Japanese women's national team were also present, coming to the event after concluding the All-Japan training camp earlier in the day.
Sakae shouted "Save Olympic Wrestling" and the university wrestlers punched the air and responded with a hearty "Yo" in agreement and support. The campaign to save Olympic wrestling has attracted the attention of the television networks and newspapers, who sent their reporters to cover the day's events
Also on May 15, dual meets between the United States, Russia and Iran are scheduled in New York, all stressing the importance of wrestling in the lives and cultures and histories of people around the world. Because of the time difference between Tokyo and New York, the collegiate event in Japan can be seen as a herald for the largest event in world wrestling.
Meanwhile, Japan's signature collection campaign, which stood at 821,342 on May 2, had reached 922,160 by noon on May 15. The signatures are scheduled to be sent to the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) in the very near future.
"With the force of reaching 1 million signatures, I am convinced that wrestling is supported by many, many people. I hope that from Japan, through wrestling, we will connect with the people of the world, and wrestling will remain a part of the Olympic Games," said JWF president Tomiaki Fukuda.
"When I heard before that there were 820,000 people (who had signed the petition), I was really surprised. To hear the number today, I felt joy and I want to do my best to make sure wrestling remains in the Olympics," added Yoshida.
Fukuda is headed to Moscow on May 16 in order to attend the extraordinary meeting of the FILA Bureau and Congress.
CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (May 15) - A trio of gold medalists from the London 2012 Olympic Games top FILA's inaugural international rankings for women's freestyle wrestling.
Three-time Olympic Games gold medalists Saori YOSHIDA (Japan) and Kaori ICHO (Japan) top the rankings at 55kg and 63kg, respectively, while 72kg champion Natalya VOROBIEVA (Russia) sits atop the 72kg rankings as she collects more championship hardware at heavyweight.
VOROBIEVA, a three-time junior world champion before her London triumph, won the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix crown in January, added the Klippan Ladies Open title in February and then prevailed at the European championships in March.
Joining VOROBIEVA on her winter tour of triumphs was another former junior world champ, Valeria CHEPSARAKOVA (Russia), who matched her teammate win-for-win at wrestling's lightest weight category.
In addition to the Japanese veterans and the Russian young guns, the other three weight categories were shared by Jessica MacDONALD (Canada) at 51kg, ZHANG Lan (China) at 59kg, and Nasanburmaa OCHIRBAT (Mongolia) at 67kg.
These three weight categories have been the "non-Olympic" events in women's wrestling, but the distribution of results among the top 10 in these weight classes show they are as intensely competitive as the four categories contested at the Olympic Games.