Board Member

Rich Bender was appointed to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee board of directors and began serving as a National Governing Bodies Council representative in January 2019.

Bender currently serves as executive director of USA Wrestling, a position he has held since 2001. Under his direction, USA Wrestling’s membership reached an all-time high, and his leadership was instrumental in preserving wrestling’s spot on the program for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Bender also led the addition of women’s wrestling to the Olympic program in 2004, and USA Wrestling’s women’s program continues to flourish under his leadership. He led the creation of a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident wrestling program for women, as well as the hiring of a national women’s coach and staff.

Prior to his tenure as executive director, Bender served as the associate executive director of programs at USA Wrestling, where he oversaw the organization’s events, its national teams and developmental programs. He directly supervised major events, including the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, world cups and numerous world dual meets. He also served as the competition manager for wrestling at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996, where he was a recipient of the International Wrestling Federation’s Gold Star award.

Bender previously chaired the NGBC for six years (2010-2016) and has served in several board positions for the U.S. Olympic Endowment, U.S. Wrestling Foundation and National Wrestling Coaches Association, among others. He is also a member of the Technical Commission of United World Wrestling, helping shape the integrity, evolution and sustainability of the sport worldwide.

Bender received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1988 and was elected to the Wisconsin Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2015.