USA Wrestling Beach Blog 2019: Cha...

Beach Blog 2019: Chapter 9: Success

By Rusty Davidson, Associated Styles Committee | May 08, 2019, 3:18 p.m. (ET)

MAY 19TH: I know you’ve had a chance to read Gary Abbott’s summary article, so you know we had a great day at Carolina Beach. I can simply confirm that we saw some fabulous wrestling, from the youngest kids through the Senior Trials. The whole thing was Quality.

Speaking of Quality, Congratulations to the winners in Raleigh ! What an exciting future we are building in our Olympic Styles. Our Greco, Women and Freestyle depth really gives us a lot to look forward to. It also gives us an exciting ‘Right Now’ ! That match ups in Raleigh were phenomenal. What we get to witness, in June’s Final X events, will be Magical.

So, now, Beach Wrestling can devote some solid attention to preparation for the World Beach Games, hosted in San Diego this October. With our Women’s Delegation decided, a couple of weeks ago, in Las Vegas, our Men’s Team is almost set.

Mueller, Trotman and Cooper (see Gary Abbott’s article) all showed remarkable technical ‘saavy’, competing in the sand. They will do us well in San Diego. We still have to see what Reece Humphrey’s status is (in World Series Rankings). It is quite possible we will see a Wrestle Off between Humphrey and Michael Peters for the 70kg spot.

We also qualified UWW Cadets and Juniors yesterday, for their World Championship in Odessa, Ukraine. I was thrilled to hear, from about a dozen families, that they are planning to attend and compete.

The Cadet and Juniors World Championship will be held alongside the Senior World Series’ Third stop. I was excited to learn that a handful of our Senior Beach Athletes (mostly college kids) are planning to compete.

I had the privilege of seeing the blueprints for Odessa’s event last week in Brazil. It looks to be a gorgeous, seaside city. The Ukrainian federation seems to be going all out in preparing an exciting, beautiful, big-time event. Can’t wait.

I still have my deep concerns about a couple of the Current Rule Applications for the Beach World Series. I will choose not to address those details right here, right now. I simply feel like an over-protective parent. I have been lucky enough to work with some great Wrestling Leaders, globally, in developing Beach Wrestling over the last decade and a half. I don’t want to see political ambition, in other countries, jeopardize the styles future benefit to our overall Olympic effort.

That part will wait for another day. So, that’s it from me… perhaps until Odessa. I’ve gotten pretty addicted to sharing some of my luck with you: from Saudi to Buenos Aires to Rio, to Carolina Beach. I hope you got some chuckles from it all. I appreciate you reading along.


MAY 18TH: Chapter 8: Appreciation

We’re on our way to the Beach, in a few minutes, to help get things set up. Having finished the pre-registration process, last night, we’re at just over 200 entries. This is… and deserves to be USA Wrestling’s Premier Beach Championship.

Gary Abbott is on his way down, from Raleigh, as I write. He will file a report tonight. We fly at Dark – Thirty, tomorrow morning. That means my final comments will be out Sunday night or Monday morning.

That makes it appropriate to take this couple of minutes and say, “Thank You”, to our North Carolina hosts. Many of you have experiences that allow you to truly appreciate what these folks are pulling off.

The North Carolina State Association is hosting three major events in two weekends. Of course, you know NC State is finishing our World Team Trials process, leading to the Final X Series. This is a very complex organizational process… a lot of moving parts.

Then, on the same weekend, North Carolina hosts their traditional Beach Trials and Championship. State Chair, Ed Duncan, Local Organizer, Neal Dorrow, and Referee Dave Pelsang do most of the grunt-work themselves. This event, over the last five years, has grown into something REALLY special !

Next week, North Carolina will host the Southeast Regional… another Premier Event… and a logistical nightmare. Getting 16 mats to Wilmington requires a huge effort on the part of a relatively small team of volunteers. The folks from the region, who travel to Wilmington next week, are in for a treat, in the down-home hospitality they’ll find.

So… 100 %... THANK YOU, North Carolina, and all the individuals who remind us the strength of volunteerism. You are the symbols of the backbone of USA Wrestling.


The Beach, most any beach, is a calming experience. I’ve been so fortunate, in this latter part of my career, that Beach Wrestling has taken me to so many beautiful places. Carolina Beach is among the finest. Amid some really ‘Elegant Violence’ a lot of great wrestlers will find peace here, tomorrow.

You are aware that two hours away, in Raleigh, Olympic Dreams are being fueled and broken this weekend. Having breakfast with some of the coaches in early, I was thrilled to hear rumors that some of our Greco-Roman heroes may drive down tonight and compete on the beach.

My understanding is that RaVaughn Perkins got beat today and is considering wrestling on the Beach, tomorrow. Associated Styles hero Ike Okoli built the Beach into his plans, even before arriving in Raleigh for the Greco Trials.

Those of us looking for ways to drive home the promise we make to kids and parents, when they first try wrestling, should pay close attention to these World Class Athletes. Take note, and promote the notion, these Wrestling Heroes would rather drive a few hours, wake up tomorrow and compete, than sit around a hotel room an pout !

Obviously, for athletes in Raleigh today to consider wrestling at Carolina Beach tomorrow, there has been a little ‘Dream-Crushing’. They had to get beat to be free to travel.

Many Native American cultures believe in the idea of the ‘Dream Catcher’, a symbolic Web-Of-Life that attracts the ‘Good Things’ to ‘Good People’. We all know that the majority of our Olympic Heroes are, indeed, Dream Catchers.

Here are guys and gals who came to North Carolina to Catch the Dream of making a World Team. When that Dream was cut short, they instantly spread their web to Catch another Dream.

I hope we do see some of the World Class Dream Catchers tomorrow morning, in Carolina Beach. And, I hope we get to see them represent our Nation in San Diego, at October’s World Beach Games. It’ll be nice to see some brilliant athletes come to North Carolina and make a World Team, after all !

Thank You, Dream Catchers ! You inspire us.

Notes: As of noon, there are just over 150 athletes pre-registered for Saturday’s Beach Nationals and World Team Trials. Expect that number to double, by morning.


MAY 16TH: Chapter 6: National Championships

On the road, again. Carolina Beach is always an event to look forward to. The down-home hospitality of the North Carolina State Association is something we should all aspire to.

That hospitality will be taxed to its limit, this weekend. In addition to the Beach National Championship and WTT, Raleigh hosts the final stop of the World Team Trials for the Olympic Styles. We fly into Raleigh, will stop for a minute… just to say Hello… and drive down to Wilmington tonight

There’s a lot at stake, both on the mat and in the sand. I’m sure everyone reading this is in touch with what Raleigh has to offer. There will be some really interesting scraps, setting th final stage for this year’s Final X events.

The Beach Nationals will also qualify USAW athletes for World Championship Competition.
Senior men will decide three of the four spots for October’s Beach World Games. A fourth, at 70kg, will likely earn a Wrestle Off for the spot.

UWW Cadets and Juniors, both male and female, will qualify for their World Championship, scheduled for the second weekend in August in Odessa, Ukraine. The United States can qualify up to Three individuals for each weight class peer gender.

The next couple of days, all the headlines will be… and should be… about the struggles and outcomes in Raleigh. I’ll do my best to add some spice, with our event on the Beach.

MAY 12TH Beach Blog 2019 chapter 5: Good news & bad news: Happy Mother’s Day to all Thank You, to all the Mom’s who make Wrestling what it is, around the world.

Good News: American Reece Humphrey got in the money at the World Series of Beach Wrestling’s second stop, Rio de Janeiro. Bad News: The check was $250 instead of $1,000. Humphrey ended up the Bronze medalist.

Reece ended up second, in his pool, losing to eventual champion Levan Kelekhsashvili, of Georgia. In the cross-bracketed semi-finals, Humphrey lost a closer than close one to Ukaraine’s Semen Radulov. Unofficial video confirmed that Humphrey scored the tying, and winning point within the last second of the bout. Beach Wrestling rules do not allow for Video Review.

I feel like a little of the blame, in this situation, falls on me. Beach rules leave the Referee sole and complete responsibility for scoring. However, when the referee is in any doubt of their position, view, or timing, they are allowed to ASK a second official (called the Technical Secretary) for an opinion.

I conduct the Referees Clinics in multiple languages. One of my key points relates to this situation. I strongly encourage our referees to gage each situation by response from the environment. Simply put, you can hear when the crowd disagrees.

This doesn’t give referees permission to display a lack of confidence. Quite the contrary is true. In Reece’s situation, the Technical Secretary was looking right through the action, at the clock, while the Referee’s view may have been obstructed.

I can’t tell you what the Technical Secretary would have answered. But, I can tell you the Referee should have asked! I discussed this, in private, with Reece, his Dad, and Mike from Flo. Bad News: Reece lost a close one. Good News: Reece handled the situation with the class and dignity that have defined his career.

Georgia won all four of the men’s weights. The guys they brought, obviously, come from some highly credentialed careers on the mat. One of those, Dato Marsagishvili, is a monster at 90kg.

Olympic Bronze Medalist (London) Marsagishvili beat two-time defending World Champion Muhammad Inam, of Pakistan, in the finals. This bout featured the only other ‘Hot’ call of the event. Inam, in on a pretty good shot, was stopped by the whistle for touching his knee to the sand.

This rule is a point of contention, throughout Beach Wrestling. The rule writers contend that looking for a knee to touch makes scoring less subjective. Obviously, I have a bias here, and this situation highlights my constant urging to UWW to revisit this application.

I won’t bore you with any more details… which is code for “I think I’ll stop, before I write myself into trouble.” I do take solace in knowing that several key Leaders were troubled by the Inam v Marsagishvili call, and plan to address it.

Bad News: Inam, a fabulous athlete and down-home good kid, got beat. Good News: Marsagishvili is an absolute beast, and a great kid himself. It was a wonderful match!

Good News: Many of us were offered free tickets to last night’s UFC 237, held right next door to our Beach Venue. I was one of the fortunate ones. Bad News: I had to rush to the hotel, and then the airport, to catch a nine o’clock flight. Someone else enjoyed the event on my ticket.

Good News: As I returned to the hotel, just to grab a rinse and change clothes, the desk was happy to inform me that United had delivered my checked bag.
Bad News: There was no need to even open it. I had a clean shirt in my carry on.

I’ll end with two pieces of good news. One, I’ve already seen that checked bag, in Houston.

Two, I’ll keep this Beach Blog alive, as we head to Carolina Beach next weekend. Our Beach Wrestling National Championship will produce American qualifiers for the Cadet and Junior World Championship, in Odessa, Ukraine. The event will also fill in our blanks for the World Beach Games, in San Diego, this October.

MAY 11TH Beach Blog 2019 Chapter 4: Rule # 1:  OK, it’s May 10th for me. But, by the time I can get this sent and USAW Communications Coordinator, Mike Willis, can get it posted, we will all be well into Saturday.

And then, there’s Sunday. Sunday, May 12th, is Mother’s day. I have ben impressed by so many of our Athletes, Coaches, Referees, Administrators, the last couple of days. The mention of Mother’s Day is not the exception here, it is the rule.

I heard it from Pedro Gama, UWW Bureau Member and President of the Brazilian Federation. I heard it from Tim Foley, who writes for the UWW website. I heard it from Rui Marta, the lead Referee from Portugal.

It warms my heart that a sport of elegant violence is a sport that appreciates Moms. We’re all on the road this Mother’s Day, yet all of us are thinking and speaking of the Women that got us here. I thank my own Mom for daring me to dream. I thank Dear Eva for fueling those dreams. I thank Carissa for taking the term ‘Mom’ to a next generation. Thank You, Moms, everywhere!

The wrestling, today, was beautiful. Part of that beauty was the United States’ Reece Humphrey. Reece beat two studs. In his first match, he dispatched an experienced Portuguese Hugo Passos, 3-0. Next, Humphrey outlasted Azerbaijan’s Panah Yasli, 5-1, finishing with a brilliant body-lock to inside single, for three. Yasli was a finalist at World Series I, in Portugal.

Humphrey will face Levan Kelkhsashvili, Saturday morning at 10:00, to decide their placement in the semis, that afternoon. Reece, sponsored by FloWrestling, achieved a sure spot in the semi-finals, despite coping with an obvious lack of coaching!

I throw that humorous little jab in because Reece’s coach is his Dad, Jim. Jim was Coach of our 1988 Olympic Team in Seoul. He is one of the most successful coaches in U.S. history. Humps is my friend. He is one of the true Gentlemen in a sport defined by Gentlemen.

I leave the competition and go directly to the airport, tomorrow. Please check United world Wrestling and/or Flo Wrestling for Reece Humphrey’s finish. I will get you a final comment, sometime Mother’s Day.

Rule # 1 ? I thought you’d never ask. Sally Stanford, one of America’s First Ladies of Officiating, taught me a valuable lesson, in 1995 in Moscow. “Pack before You Party”. I’m on my way to the room of a Georgian Referee who’s been a friend for 30-some years. He says he has his ‘Best Batch Ever’ of home-made cognac.

The good news is, it’s early in the evening (we’re old!). The better news is, I don’t have anything to pack. I never got my luggage.

MAY 10TH: Beach Blog 2019: Chapter 3: Showtime: All the preparation is done. We just finished weigh ins. I’ve always noticed that one of the things we love about Wrestling is the Peace we all feel when competition begins. After the first whistle blows, we all enter a world where everything makes sense.

I know we live in an era of challenges and video reviews. Still, for the most part, our way of life works the way things are supposed to. Winners win, losers recover, disappointment fades into new hope. We all would do to celebrate our addiction.
American, Reece Humphrey, drew into the toughest half of the toughest bracket, at 70kgs. Reece will open with Portugal’s Hugo Passos, in the top half of an eight-man bracket.

That top half will compete, round-robin, after which their top two will wrestle semis against the top two from the bottom half. Humphrey’s second bout will be versus a notable opponent in Panah Il Yasli, from Azerbaijan. Reece’s third bout will be another tough kid… Levan Kelekhsashvili, of Georgia.

The bottom half of the Men’s 70kg bracket includes athletes from Barbados, Brazil, Greece and Ukraine. Preliminary rounds, in all eight weights, will run right up to sunset, today (Friday). Semis and Finals are scheduled for Saturday, mid-day, depending on today’s progress.

In each of the first three legs of this 2019 World Series, athletes compete for prize money. The Champion, in each of eight weight classes earns 100 Swiss Francs. Each Silver medalist takes home 500 CHF. The single Bronze medalist per weight snags 250 CHF.

An additional prize of 1000 CHF is awarded to a single athlete, selected by tournament officials, for performing the most spectacular throw of the event. That bonus, within Beach Wrestling’s fast-paced three minute bout, produces some serious “Wow !” moments.

So, here we go. It IS Showtime ! I’m increasingly thrilled at FloWrestling’s willingness to spring for having an American in this World Series. Having talked, quite a bit with Flo’s Mike Malinconico, it seems clear that Flo has made a strong, well-founded commitment to this Developing Style. Appreciated !

On a personal note, I’m planning to wear the same clothes I wore yesterday. My luggage is still ‘Flying the Friendly Skies’.

MAY 9TH: Beach Blog 2019: Chapter 2: Solve the next problem

I’m in Rio, and that in and of itself is a success. Delayed an hour, getting out of Houston yesterday morning, our pilot made up a half hour. With a little hustle and a lot of sweat, I ran-walked directly from my incoming flight to Panama City onto my departure flight to Rio.

My luggage apparently did not share my sense of urgency. Apparently, this was contagious. There were eleven people ahead of me to declare their lost luggage and fill out all the paperwork. Oh, yeah, and there was one lady in the office to do all this.

Fortunately, the guy assigned to pick me up waited. My flight got in at 12:45am. I walked out of the arrival hall, sans bag, at 3:10.

Our Referees Clinic started at 9:00, so I was at breakfast at seven. We have athletes at Round Two of the Beach Wrestling World Series from twelve countries. We have Referees from five, including two Olympic Style I-S. That’s the category that allows a referee to be considered for Senior Worlds and Olympic selection. It’s refreshing to see that level of officials, and their Federations, buying into Beach Wrestling.

I have not seen Reece or Mike, from FloWrestling, yet. We have our Technical Conference for Team Leaders, later this afternoon. So, I will hope to see at least one of them there.

Organizers are busy setting up the competition venue, this afternoon. Our event will be inside the Olympic Park, from 2016, just a few steps away from where we wrestled.

So, I’m off to lunch, and then (hopefully) a nap. At least I don’t have to change clothes.

: Nature always wins

Weather ! As I sit in Houston, nearly hypothermic from sleeping the last three hours on the floor, I’m reminding myself how much we love the ‘Adventure’ of it all. The flight I’m supposed to be on will be landing soon, in Rio de Janeiro.

I’m on my way, eventually, to the Second Leg of United World Wrestling’s 2019 Beach Wrestling World Series. The first leg was a month ago, in Portugal.

This event, to be contested near the 2016 Olympic Park on the outskirts of Rio, will hold a little extra excitement for Americans. Former Freestyle star, Reece Humphrey, will represent the U.S. Look forward to some interesting coverage, by FloWrestling, documenting Reece’s adventure and outcome.

Flo landed the UWW contract to carry the entire Beach World Series. It’s pretty sweet to see them take the financial plunge into supporting this beautiful presentation of our sport. Beach Wrestling has been gaining traction, for over a decade, featuring the raw beauty of our sport on the backdrop of some of the planet’s most stunning shores.

Besides competing for a substantial paycheck, Humphrey is out to earn a spot on the USA squad for October’s Beach World Games. Those Games, sanctioned by ANOC, will be hosted by San Diego. As National Host, the United States automatically earns the privilege of one entry in each of eight weight classes (four women, four men).

The U.S. Women qualified, last week, in Las Vegas. Our Men will qualify, next week, at the U.S. Beach Wrestling National Championship in Carolina Beach, NC.

If Reece fares well… and he should… in Rio, he’ll earn a Wrestle-Off against the National Champion crowned in North Carolina. That contest will, likely, take place mid-June.

The Carolina Beach Championships will also qualify both Male and Female Cadets and Juniors for UWW’s age group World Championship. Both Cadets and Juniors will celebrate their World Championship in Odessa, Ukraine, the second weekend of August.

The Cadets and Juniors World championship will coincide with the Third Leg of the Senior World Series. The fourth, and final, World Series event is scheduled for early September, on the sunny coast of Croatia.

‘Sunny’ is not a thing, here in Houston ! I am one of literally thousands of passengers stranded here. From what I’m told, IAH was completely closed most of yesterday.

After my original flight was cancelled, I was able to Stand-by out of Albuquerque, only to miss my Houston to Rio connection by eleven minutes. I got in the ‘Customer Service’ line, right at 11:30, last night. My turn came up at twenty-til-two. Funny how things work with TWO ‘Customer Service’ Agents and SIX Empty Stations !

The best I could come up with (since the ‘Customer Service’ agent couldn’t come up with anything) was to re-route through Panama. Leaving in a couple of hours, I can look forward to a forty-five minute connection there. If all goes perfectly, I can get to Rio just after midnight… a mere 14 hours late.

So, while I decorate my own pity-party, I’m aware of countless others who have it far worse. I watched many, after two hours standing in line, just ‘lose it’ as they learned they simply could not get to whatever it is they had planned.

I understand, completely, what I said in the beginning. Nature DOES always win. Weather grounds planes and things get backed up.

What’s alarming and sad is how people’s feelings… not to mention their needs… are minimalized by representatives of the huge corporate entities that were happy to take money for a service. I get it… they can’t fix most of the problems. I’d just like to see these airline giants invest a little… check that, A LOT… more training and effort into they way they treat their customers.

In our free market economy, where transportation providers are allowed to compete for our dollar, we hear so often about how tough it is for them. It seems like some of these highly educated and experienced CEO’s would figure out that Treating Customers with a little Dignity and Compassion is good for business. Amen.