Gold medallist Kurt Angle was ''blown away'' by the IOC's decision to drop amateur wrestling from the Olympics despite the huge part its played in the history of the Games.
Kurt Angle has slammed the IOC's decision to drop wrestling from the Olympics.
The 'TNA IMPACT Wrestling' star and gold medallist was ''blown away'' by the International Olympic Committee's decision to pull the sport, which has played a huge part the Games' history, and insists it deserves to be included far more than many other events.
Speaking to BANG Showbiz, he said: ''They actually chose wrestling to drop over badminton, which completely blows my mind. The tradition and history of wrestling since the beginning of the Olympics, the competitiveness worldwide - you're not going to get any more competitive than Olympic wrestling. There was no reason for this to happen.''
The 44-year-old grappler won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and spoke of how having the opportunity to compete at that level had an incredibly positive effect on his career,
He said: ''That changed my whole life. I won the World Championships in 1995, and nobody heard about it. In amateur wrestling, that's just as big as winning an Olympic gold medal.
''It doesn't mean nearly as much, because the Olympics is the pinnacle of sport. So, the value of Kurt Angle and my brand went up when I won the Olympics.''
After winning his gold medal, Kurt moved into professional wrestling, first with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) before moving to TNA in 2006.
With the future of Olympic wrestling looking very bleak, Kurt believes it could have a detrimental effect on the sport overall.
He insisted: ''Let's say a WWE superstar like Jack Swagger - an All-American [wrestler] in college. They don't really bring it up that much ... There's a big difference between being a wrestler in college and an Olympic gold medallist. The promotion is so much bigger - not only do they get more money, but the company obviously gets a lot more promotion out of it.''
Kurt is keen to stress the fight isn't over to save wrestling's Olympic status and he is urging fans to petition the IOC ahead of a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, in September and the governing body to reverse its decision.
He said: ''I want to tell the fans to tweet @IOCMedia and let them know how they feel about dropping Olympic wrestling. Tell them that you support Olympic wrestling and ask them to bring it back.''
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