Twins Trent and Travis Paulson will compete in the Victory Wrestling Challenge on Nov. 22 in Omaha. USA Wrestling file photo.
Trent and Travis Paulson have enjoyed their share of success wrestling on the banks of the Missouri River in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro area.
The Paulson twins combined to win five state titles for Lewis Central High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Trent qualified for the 2009 U.S. World Team in freestyle wrestling in Council Bluffs and Travis followed suit by making a World Team a year later in their hometown.
Now 30 years old, the Paulson twins are ready to give their local fans one more opportunity to witness them in action.
The Paulsons are among a strong group of athletes scheduled to compete in the inaugural Victory Wrestling Challenge on Nov. 22 at Omaha’s Ralston Arena.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Trent Paulson said. “Wholeheartedly, I think events like this are the future of our sport. We had the scare of possibly losing wrestling in the Olympics and we got it back. We have an opportunity to build on that momentum and continue to build wrestling. We need to get people excited about domestic events like this one and grow the sport.”
The Victory Wrestling Challenge is a freestyle and Greco-Roman event featuring past World and Olympic wrestlers in a 12-bout card. The event will bring together Victory Fighting Championships' first-class promotion of events and grassroots wrestling clubs. A portion of each ticket sold will be pledged to USA Wrestling.
“Victory is going the right route, having mixed martial arts style walk-outs for the athletes with lights and music,” Trent Paulson said. “We have to be innovative and put on a better show to grow the sport. And having freestyle rules will translate to athletes getting good matches as they continue to pursue World and Olympic titles.”
Trent Paulson, who won an NCAA title for Iowa State, will battle past U.S. National Team member Nick Marable at 163 pounds in a freestyle bout.
Marable won a title at the New York AC International this past weekend.
“Events like this are a steppingstone for my main goal, which is making a World Team this year,” Marable said. “It’s a great opportunity to wrestle against a tough opponent.”
Trent Paulson is looking forward to the challenge of facing a top wrestler in Marable.
“He’s a stud,” Paulson said. “I know him well. We both come to scrap. I’m excited to face him.”
Travis Paulson, a three-time All-American for Iowa State, is scheduled to battle 2010 NCAA champion Max Askren at 185 pounds. Travis Paulson placed second at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials.
Among the other standouts expected to compete is 2010 World Team member Les Sigman, who won four NCAA Division II titles for Nebraska-Omaha. Sigman placed second at the 2012 Olympic Trials at heavyweight. He is scheduled to face past NCAA All-American Jarod Trice.
Justin “Harry” Lester, a 2012 Olympian and two-time World bronze medalist, is expected to take the mat in a Greco-Roman bout against past NCAA Division II runner-up and Omaha native Esai Dominguez at 163 pounds.
“It’s going to be a fun event,” Lester said. “It’s going to be more fan-friendly and this type of environment will generate more excitement. It’s exciting for the wrestlers to compete in a dual meet where all eyes are on one mat instead of trying to watch three or four matches at the same time. It’s a better atmosphere to compete in.”
Wrestlers competing in the event will earn a little money as well. They will receive compensation for competing in the event.
“Having a professional outlet to compete in and having a chance to put on a show for the fans is great for wrestling,” Askren said. “This is exciting. In the wrestling world, we are at a point where we can improve the sport or stay the same. Professional events like this are a great opportunity for the sport. We need an atmosphere like this to get people excited about wrestling.”
“It’s always good to make a little money and be able to subsidize your training,” Lester said. “It’s good for wrestlers to have a financial incentive to do what they love.”
Another top matchup features two-time NCAA runner-up Montell Marion against two-time NCAA Division II champion Raufeon Stots at 145 pounds.
“There are some great matchups with two studs in every match,” Trent Paulson said. “When the lights go on and it is show time, it is going to be exciting. It is an important event for the sport.”
Tickets for the event are $25 apiece for general admission and $750 for a seated table with 10 spectators. Tickets can be purchased online at www.homepridetix.com
The event is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 22.
The Victory Fighting Championships is based in Omaha and is a premier mixed martial arts organization in the Midwest.