USA Wrestling is a finalist for Sport Organization of the Year for the international Peace and Sport Awards

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Gary Abbott (USA Wrestling)

USA Wrestling has been selected as a top-three finalist for the 2013 Sport Organization of the Year award, as part of the international Peace and Sports Awards. The winner will be announced during the Peace and Sport Awards Ceremony that will take place on Thursday, November 7th in Monaco, under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.

USA Wrestling was selected based upon its hosting of the Rumble On The Rails, an international wrestling competition held in Grand Central Terminal in New York City on May 15. The event, which was hosted by Beat the Streets in New York City, featured wrestlers from the United States, Iran and Russia. It was a headline competition during World Wrestling Month, receiving worldwide media coverage as part of the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort. Over $1 million was raised for youth wrestling activities at the Beat the Streets Gala held alongside the event. The two dual meets were broadcast live nationally by NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports Network.

The other two nominees are the Italian Federation of Sport Climbing, which is using climbing programs to spur economic development in Africa, and the Oceania Football Confederation, which created the “Just Play” program for 6-12 year old youth in 11 Pacific countries.

“USA Wrestling is truly honored to be selected as a finalist for the Sport Organization of the Year as part of the prestigious Peace and Sport Awards program. The Rumble On The Rails event is an example of the kind of international cooperation and friendship which is fostered through wrestling. We wish to recognize the Russian and Iranian wrestling federations for partnering with USA Wrestling at this historic competition. Thanks also go out to Beat the Streets New York, and all within the American wrestling family, who worked so hard to make this a major success,” said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director.

On its website, Peace and Sport posted the following information on why USA Wrestling was chosen as a finalist for this prestigious award:

USA Wrestling 
"Rumble on the Rails" is a leading example of different countries working together to protect a threatened sporting discipline. While diplomatic relations between their respective governments remain taut, the wrestling federations of the USA, Iran and Russia came together to participate in "Rumble on the Rails," a wrestling competition held in New York in May 2013. Their cooperation demonstrates the power of sport to unite people.

The Peace and Sport Awards Ceremony is held each year during the Gala Evening of the Peace and Sport International Forum. The Peace and Sport Awards reward initiatives and people who have outstandingly contributed to peace and social stability in the world through sport. The winners have implemented projects that are symbolic of what sport can accomplish to create links between divided or opposed communities.
Each year, winners of the Peace and Sport Awards are chosen by a jury of eminent, independent personalities, deeply invested in peace-promotion or the consolidation of peace through sport.

There are eight different award categories for the Peace and Sport Awards each year: Image of the Year, Champion of the Year, Sport Event of the Year, Sports Federation of the Year, Corporate Initiative of the Year, Non-Governmental Organization of the Year, Special Jury Prize and Adapted Program of the Year.

There is one other finalist with a connection to wrestling. In the Image of the Year category, a photo by Ashraf Shazly of AFP depicted Japanese diplomat Yasuhiro Murotatsu taking part in his fourth Nuba traditional wrestling competition in the Sudan, which demonstrates the role of wrestling to build peace within that nation.

Peace and Sport Awards website
“Peace and Sport, L’Organisation pour la Paix par le Sport” (known as Peace and Sport) was founded in 2007 by Modern Pentathlon Olympic medalist and world champion Joel Bouzou, who is the current President of the organization. It works for sustainable peace, throughout the world. To achieve this, it promotes the practice of structured sport and sporting values to educate young generations and help foster social stability, reconciliation and dialogue between communities. An international initiative at the service of peace, Peace and Sport intervenes in areas made vulnerable by extreme poverty, recent conflict or lack of social cohesion. A neutral and apolitical organization based in Monaco, Peace and Sport is a global initiative under the High Patronage of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco.

USA Wrestling is the National Governing Body for the Sport of Wrestling in the United States and, as such, is its representative to the United States Olympic Committee and the International Wrestling Federation FILA. Simply, USA Wrestling is the central organization that coordinates amateur wrestling programs in the nation and works to create interest and participation in these programs. Its president is James Ravannack, and its Executive Director is Rich Bender.