Cagewriter

Chael Sonnen, The Iron Sheik appear together to voice support for Olympic wrestling

Cagewriter


A pair of the greatest bad guys in either of their sports, UFC light heavyweight Chael Sonnen and former WWE champion The Iron Sheik, appeared together on "Off the Record with Michael Landsberg" today on Canada's TSN network to share their support for the movement to save wrestling in the Olympics.

Landsberg went through the usual bit with Sonnen prior to the Iron Sheik's arrival, which doesn't appear in the briefer, edited clip above. He touched on Sonnen's upcoming fight with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at Ultimate Fight Night on Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 17 in Boston, and, Sonnen's 2010 positive test in California for an elevated testosterone to epitestosterone (T/E) ratio.

But when it got to the main topic, Sonnen was superb. He said wrestling fans have to make their voices known, because of the large number of people who compete in the sport world-wide.

You've got to understand, a lot of times it comes down to participation. OK, we've got the NFL in this country. We only have it in America. We have Major League Baseball. It only happens in America. Wrestling is a truly global event.

The sport that is beating us out right now has 1,800 members world-wide. Wrestling has 1,800 members in Maryland. That's just one small piece. Look, The Sheik is Persian. He's from Iran. If you remove wrestling from the Games, you remove Iran from the movement. ... This is a global event.

Later, Sonnen said International Olympic Committee executives got frustrated with the poor quality of the wrestling leadership.

We have replaced that leadership. We belong in the Games and we need to stay. Do not attack the sport that refuses to fight back. Wrestlers keep their mouth shut and they go with the flow, and it needs to stop.

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Hossein Vaziri, aka The Iron Sheik, won an AAU wrestling medal (Courtesy Vaziri family)

The Sheik praised Sonnen throughout the segment, but agreed with his basic premise. When the Sheik moved to the U.S. from Iran, he won an AAU national title and later served as an assistant coach under Alan Rice on the 1972 U.S. Olympic wrestling team.

Sheik didn't hesitate to back Sonnen's passionate defense of wrestling.

Everybody knows that Olympics without wrestling [is] no more fun like before. I know. Chael Sonnen knows, Dan Gable knows and my agents Magen Boys know, wrestling is a big tradition in the Olympics.

Earlier in the segment after the Sheik first came on, Landsberg attempts to stir him up and get him to take a shot at Sonnen. Landsberg told the Sheik he thought Sonnen would be a good WWE wrestler and added, "He's got a big enough mouth."

Chael talks a little bit too much, but he also knows how to handle himself in the ring.

And both of them knew how to handle themselves on TV in the fight to keep wrestling in the Games. They acquitted themselves and the Save Olympic Wrestling movement well.

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