By Isiah REYES
The Catch Wrestling Alliance presented its inaugural match June 7 at UCLA’s John Wooden Center featuring wrestlers from around the world in an attempt to usher in a new era for a forgotten sport.
The event was produced by Raul Ramirez, a certified catch wrestling trainer with a certification of black sash in Kung Fu.
“It is every catch wrestler’s dream to see catch wrestling in the spotlight again,” Ramirez said. “My goal is to reinstate legitimate catch wrestling competition globally.”
Catch wrestling is an aggressive style of wrestling very different from modern pro wrestling. There are only two ways to win: pin or submission. There are no points awarded and all kinds of submissions are allowed except groin attacks, fish hooking, spitting, biting, hair grabbing, intentional striking and kicking.
There were 14 wrestlers who participated in the Catch Wrestling Alliance inaugural invitational. Winners of the seven matches included Brooklyn Thomson of Canada, Ned Morales of the U.S., Amin Nazer of the United Kingdom, Colleen Schneider of the U.S., Adam Laporte of Canada and Curran Jacobs of the U.S. The match between Kyle Johnson of the U.S. and Malcolm Tisdale of Canada ended in a tie.
The Billy Robinson Match of the Night Award was presented to wrestlers Xochi Wilder of the U.S. and Thomson. Awards were presented in honor of well known catch wrestlers and promoters of the past.
“I’ve done a lot of combat sports and this is by far my favorite,” Christopher Crossan said, a wrestler representing the United Kingdom.
Also on hand was Mike Chapman, who is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on the history of wrestling. Chapman is a member of six halls of fame, including the Amateur Athletic Union National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“In the 1900s, catch wrestling was extremely popular,” Chapman said. “Football was in its infancy, baseball was in its infancy and, in American culture, the male species liked tough, individualistic sports.”
Chapman, who has written 16 books on the subject of wrestling, two of which are optioned as films in Hollywood, drove from Iowa to see the event. He also brought memorabilia that was on display for all to see. Some of Chapman’s items included the largest collection of wrestling trading cards dating back to the 1880s, framed artwork of Abraham Lincoln wrestling as a young man at the age of 22 in 1831, and a framed and signed letter and photos from legendary world champion Lou Thesz, who was an American professional wrestler and six-time world champion in the Los Angeles area in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
“I really take my hat off to Raul Ramirez for having the courage to put on an event like this,” Chapman said.
Also in attendance were Gordon Hassman, NCAA champion and a three-time All-American at Iowa State University, former UFC heavyweight champion and wrestling coach Josh Barnett, and filmmaker Jim Townsend, president of Tayrona Films Inc.
The Catch Wrestling Alliance organization works with catch wrestlers from around the world with the goal of reviving the sport. To learn more, visit www.catchwrestlingalliance.com.