(SIOUX CITY, IA) The sport of wrestling has escaped being eliminated from the Olympics. Wrestling fans, coaches and even politicians put a headlock on the International Olympic Committee until it voted to keep the sport in the games.
For the wrestling Coach at Morningside College, taking wrestling off the Olympic list of sports never even crossed his mind but in February that's exactly what happened.
"I never really knew they took anything off the Olympic list. I just thought that was the Olympic sports and that's the way it was," said Jacob Stevenson, Wrestling Coach at Morningside College.
The International Olympic Committee voted on the top 25 sports it wanted to keep for the 2020 Olympics and then ditched the rest. Almost immediately fans of the wrestling world were up in arms.
"The Olympics are something that you look forward to when you're a little kid starting out wrestling. You look at the Olympic wrestlers and those are the guys you want to be when you're young," said Nathan Ryan, a sophomore at Morningside College and wrestler, who's started playing the sport when he was 4-years-old.
Wrestling is one of the original sports in the ancient Olympic Games and is 3,000-years-old.
Which is one reason why leaders of the game are striving to modernize and improve the sport by making it faster and adding more weight classes for female wrestlers to promote gender equality.
Wrestling enthusiasts say if there was more promotional work for top wrestlers and a little more national attention, that would spark excitement for the sport.
"We had Jordan Burroughs last year. A lot of people heard of him because he was the Olympic champ for America and I just think they need to get Jordan Burroughs just like they had Michael Phelps out there voicing his opinion on the sport. Not just on the computer like they have been but on TV," said Ryan.
Wrestling beat out Baseball/Softball and Squash.
After wrestling was unexpectedly axed in February the international governing body made significant changes. It elected a new president, included more women in decision-making roles and adopted rule changes to make the sport easier to understand.