Kiki Kelley and USA Wrestling have announced that the Kiki Cup, a major international Greco-Roman wrestling dual meet competition, will be renamed the Jack Pinto Cup starting in 2013, in loving memory of the six-year-old wrestler who was tragically killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in December.
The competition will be held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Saturday, January 26. Four U.S. Senior-level Greco-Roman teams will compete against four international teams in dual meets. This is the annual kick-off event for the U.S. Greco-Roman program for the new calendar year.
Six-year-old Jack Pinto, one of the victims of the school shooting, was a first-year member of both the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association and USA Wrestling.
The Pinto family gave USA Wrestling permission to rename the competition, and issued the following statement concerning the Jack Pinto Cup.
“We are overwhelmed at your generous offer and thoughts for our beloved Jack. We have been simply stunned at the outpouring of support from the wrestling community, which we now realize is our wrestling family. While our Jack was new to wrestling, he approached it as he approached all of life; with the unbridled enthusiasm that made him Jack. We are honored to accept your generous offer.”
- The Pinto Family
USA Wrestling will name the tournament the Jack Pinto Cup starting this year and into the future.
“USA Wrestling is grateful that the Pinto family has allowed us the opportunity to honor Jack in this way. The thoughts and prayers of the entire wrestling community are with Jack's family, friends and teammates during these very difficult times. We will honor Jack’s memory each year through this important international competition,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender.
Christina “Kiki” Kelley is the sponsor of the annual Kiki Cup event, and felt that it was appropriate to rename the competition in memory of a special young person who had a passion for wrestling.
“As the mother of a beloved seven-year-old child, there are no words to express to the Pinto family and by extension to all the families of Sandy Hook Elementary how I feel. I will say this: It is a privilege to honor the spirit of Jack Pinto by renaming the former Kiki Cup to the Jack Pinto Cup,” said Kiki Kelley.
National Greco-Roman Coach Steve Fraser read a newspaper report about the toughness of Jack Pinto on the wrestling mat and believed it was truly appropriate to honor Jack at the event.
“This young boy's tough, matter-of-fact attitude is the essence of what the sport of wrestling is all about. The incredible loss of Jack Pinto and the others in this senseless tragedy will haunt us as we try and figure out why. Our hope is to honor Jack, his family and the others victims by naming this tough international Greco-Roman Olympic-style wrestling competition in his name. This is a reminder of how precious life really is,” said Fraser.
Below is an excerpt from a New York Post article about Jack Pinto entitled ‘His smile was larger than life,’ written by Andrea Peyser.
NEW YORK POST STORY, by Andrea Peyser
Jack was an avid wrestler at school. He once told the coach he lost a tooth, and the coach took it. Jack immediately went back to wrestle.
Eventually, his mom asked where his tooth was.
“Coach has it.”
“Now, when someone loses a tooth,” said Wally, “they call it a Pinto Break.”
The wrestling community has been active in honoring Jack Pinto in recent weeks. A moment of silence was held in his honor prior to the Grapple at the Garden in Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 16. The George Mason wrestling team wrote Jack Pinto on their headgear when they competed at the Grapple at the Garden. The Newtown Youth Wrestling Association competed just days after the shooting in honor of their teammate. The team wore its wrestling gear to Jack’s funeral and brought their medals with them.
Connecticut USA Wrestling, the state association for Connecticut, has been accepting donations for the Pinto family and has already raised thousands of dollars as part of their efforts to assist.
The competition schedule for the 2013 Jack Pinto Cup will be announced shortly. The event is open to the public and is free of charge.