The worldwide wrestling community is gearing up for a fight, and American great John Smith is ready to lead the charge, he said.
Smith's comments came in a video interview produced by Oklahoma State after the International Olympic Committee recommended that wrestling be dropped from the list of core sports for the 2020 Olympic Games.
"The fight is just starting," Smith said during the video. "Again, it was a recommendation from the IOC that wrestling not be in the 2020 Olympics. There will be additional meetings from this point forward in May and a final decision in September of 2013. I can tell you the wrestling world will come together. It will unite and the fight has just begun."
Smith, who is the head coach at Oklahoma State, is arguably the greatest wrestler in American history. From 1987-1992, Smith won two Olympic gold medals and four world championship titles at the 62-kilogram weight class.
Because of wrestling, Smith was able to see the world, and he was able to recognize some of his greatest dreams. It's because of dreams like his, held by young wrestlers around the world, that Smith is prepared to do battle, he said.
"It's for those few young men who, at the age of 10 or 12, have a dream," Smith said during the video. "It's what gives them stability in their life, the discipline, the courage to chase that dream. It's personal. … I'm fighting for that 12 year old kid. I'm fighting for that kid that has that dream."
Smith was extremely emotional when he first heard on Tuesday morning of the IOC's decision, he said. Initially, he didn't realize that the decision wasn't final.
With the IOC's vote, wrestling joins a list of seven other sports vying for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games. It's likely that the IOC will choose only one of the eight total sports to be contested in 2020.
After Smith realized that there would be additional meetings to decide the fate of Olympic wrestling, he calmed down and found a resolve, he said.
"It just made me sick to think that the opportunity for a 14-, 15-, 16-year-old kid, who has thoughts of being an Olympic champion, is going to be erased," Smith said during the interview. "And we may be only talking about a handful of kids, but it made me sick. As the day went on I got stronger."
He began speaking with all kinds of people in the wrestling community -- not just in the United States, but around the world, he said. He reminded fans that people all over the world have passion for the sport of wrestling, and he believes that athletes, coaches and officials from countries such as Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia and Japan, for example, are ready to stand together to put up a fight.
And for those young wrestlers who dream of being an Olympic champion? Smith advises that they continue to train with the ultimate goal in mind.
"Any young kid out there that hears this -- that there's not going to be wrestling in the Olympics -- keep fighting. Keep working, keep training. I'm going to fight for you. I'm going to fight for you, and there's only one option with this decision, and that to get it overturned. And I'm going to live every day until that decision is made to make a difference in the final decision."
The final decision is expected to be made in Buenos Aires in September.
Read more from this author: What Happens to Wrestling Now?
During her career, Sandra Johnson has covered three Olympic Games. In addition, she also spent time working for the United States Olympic Committee, where she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement while learning about each Olympic sport. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46
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