UFC 157′s Dan Henderson says Olympic wrestling won’t go out without a big fight

Maggie Hendricks

TORRANCE, Calif. -- Before becoming an MMA fighter, Dan Henderson had a successful career as an amateur wrestler. He represented the U.S. in the 1992 and the 1996 Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling. If the International Olympic Committee gets their way, no more wrestlers will get the chance to experience the Olympics from 2020 on. Last week, the IOC decided to drop wrestling from its core sports.

Henderson was surprised when he heard the news.

"It was pretty sad news. I was shocked, a little bit. At the same time, I knew they had been talking about it for a number of years, that they were going to take some of the wrestling out. I think nobody thought they would actually go ahead and do it because the sport's been around forever in the Olympics."

But he doesn't think the fight is over.

"I think the wrestling community in itself is much bigger and stronger than people give it credit for, and I'm talking worldwide. A lot of countries are banding together and really getting behind it to put a lot of pressure on the IOC."

Protests have already begun. Bulgarian wrestling federation president Valentin Yordanov sent back his gold medal, won at the 1996 Olympics, in protest of the decision. During a major tournament in Iran this weekend, wrestlers will lie down on the mats in a sign of unity.

"I don't think it's a done deal yet," Henderson said. "Wrestling's not going to go out without a big fight."

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