Invicta FC strawweight champ Carla Esparza said on Feb. 12 in an exclusive chat with Long Island MMA Examiner Eric Holden that she will do everything in her power to get the sport of wrestling reinstated into the 2020 Olympic Games.
"Wrestling has had a profound effect on my life," Esparza said. "Hearing that it will removed from the Olympics breaks my heart. I think this decision will have a huge negative effect on all of the high school/college/kids programs, which stinks. Wrestling is a sport that builds and instills integrity, strength, determination, and hard work in people. I'm praying for a miracle."
Esparza, 25, is known for her elite wrestling skills, and she recently earned the Invicta FC strawweight championship by wearing out Bec Hyatt with a flurry of takedowns, a technique she learned from her years competing on the wrestling mat.
On Feb. 12, IOC leaders dropped wrestling from the Olympic program, a surprise decision that removes one of the oldest Olympic sports from the 2020 Games.
"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling, it is what's right with the 25 core sports."
The decision drew the ire of many around the MMA community, as wrestling is one of the key disciplines utilized in mixed martial arts.
Wrestling was voted out of the Olympics from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey.
"We knew that today would be a tough day for American athletes competing in whatever sport was identified by the IOC Executive Board," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement. "Given the history and tradition of wrestling, and its popularity and universality, we were surprised when the decision was announced.
"It is important to remember that today's action is a recommendation, and we hope that there will be a meaningful opportunity to discuss the important role that wrestling plays in the sports landscape both in the United States and around the world. In the meantime, we will fully support USA Wrestling and its athletes."