By: Andy Hamilton from the Des Moines Register
Tony Ramos added to his wrestling resume in May when he beat Sam Hazewinkel with a ticket to the World Championships on the line.
Their next encounter will provide Ramos with a chance to add to his bank account and seize the first championship belt in a league that's aiming to change the wrestling landscape.
The Global Wrestling Championships is set to debut Nov. 22 in Ithaca, N.Y., with three $10,000 title bouts that will be shown on a webcast. Ramos is slated to wrestle Hazewinkel for the flyweight title, Kyle Dake is scheduled to take on Andrew Howe or Nick Marable for the welterweight crown and Tyrell Fortune is set to tangle with Tervel Dlagnev for the heavyweight belt.
GLOBAL WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Nov. 22 live stream
"We're trying to create an audience for the sport that hasn't been there up to this point," Global Wrestling Championships producer Wayne Boyd said. "When you put money in the mix, a prize and you put a belt that has some prestige, you get a wider audience base."
That's one of Boyd's objectives. Another is upping the ante for post-collegiate wrestlers.
Boyd, a 1969 NCAA champion for Temple, remembers the days when he borrowed money, worked side jobs and hitchhiked to get to wrestling tournaments. He envisions a future with 11 club teams competing in a dual league that could fund nearly 90 wrestlers with Olympic aspirations. The league could begin in 2015.
"Right now we're only paying the very top echelon," Boyd said. "We're trying to give a guy who might not ever make an Olympic team the chance to make $30,000 to $50,000 per year competing for one of the clubs. And you don't have to be the best guy at the weight."
Boyd said Global Wrestling Championships is backed by the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, a group that lists 43 wrestlers on its senior freestyle roster, including former Iowa stars Ramos, Matt McDonough, Phil Keddy, Montell Marion, as well as Deron Winn and Jarod Trice of the Cyclone Wrestling Club.
The Global Wrestling Championships will feature a best-of-five series with three minute bouts and freestyle rules. The first event comes a little more than a month after Flowrestling unveiled the Flo Premier League with a bout between two-time NCAA champion Chris Perry and Robert Hamlin.
"Flo has their league, but they aren't paying anywhere near what the payday is for winning matches in this," said Ramos, who swept the best-of-three championship series against Hazewinkel in the finals of the World Team Trials. "It's a good opportunity."
For perspective, Iowa coach Tom Brands said he once won $9,000 at a two-day event overseas.
"The one thing that probably talks more than anything else to get something done is to reward the athletes — because without the athletes you don't have an event," Brands said. "That's where we're missing the boat sometimes. Regardless of what my mentality is as a competitor — anybody, anytime, anywhere — that's not reality because these guys are getting smarter. Their time is more valuable.
"A guy like (three-time World and Olympic champion) Jordan Burroughs is worth a lot of money to go other places and make appearances. You get a guy like Tony Ramos or a guy like Kyle Dake who haven't really arrived on the scene yet but have made themselves relevant with other results or their past has made them important, now all of a sudden you give them relevant money and the public wants to go see that."