The Story Behind the Viral Video
The story broke on Tuesday, right before the start of the 2013 Iowa State Wrestling Tournament. We were off to cover the Mr. Wrestler award presentation and knew that this was going to be something big. Walking in the door at the Iowa Hall of Pride museum, we ran into Dan Gable. Had been on the phone for the last twelve hours finding out what had happened and more importantly, rallying the troops to kick off the campaign to save the sport.
Three days later, in the middle of the State Tournament, I came across the Jay Mohr piece on his personal experiences with wrestling. I had all of this footage and I knew it would be important to the current wrestlers at the high school tournament, as they would be the first ones without an Olympic opportunity if the sport failed to get back into the 2020 Olympic Games. I looked through the footage I had and produced the following piece.
I posted it up on my site in early May, thinking that it might reach a couple hundred views. Within a couple of hours, the Cedar Rapids Gazette had reposted it on their website and caught the attention of wrestling fans around the state, then around the country. Within a couple of days, it had hit viral status. By best estimates, it had over 350,000 views in the first week and over 6.2 million impressions on Facebook.
By the end of May, the world-wide campaign to keep wrestling in the Olympics was in full swing. Sweeping changes had been made by FILA, the governing body of wrestling. Actor & former collegiate wrestler Billy Baldwin was involved and two big international wrestling events had been scheduled for NYC and Los Angels. Baldwin appeared on Jay Mohr's radio show to promote the LA event and the discussion turned to the video.
Jay Mohr & Billy Baldwin talk about the video (4:27)
In September of 2013, the General Assembly of the International Olympic Committee gathered in Rio to vote on the inclusion of either wrestling, squash or baseball/softball. Presentations were made by all three sports to the General Assembly. The video presentation by wrestling included a clip from the Save Olympic Wrestling video (the shot of Dan Gable and the blue "Let's Keep Wrestling" shirt from the Iowa State Tournament.) The vote was in overwhelmingly in favor of wrestling and the dream had been restored for today's high school and youth wrestlers.