INGLEWOOD — The Freestyle Wrestling World Cup featuring eight of the top wrestling teams in the world, will be held April 11 and 12 at the Forum here.
The World Cup is a team dual meet tournament. However, it is also one of the most impressive displays of individual talent within the sport.
The field includes three Olympic champions, Jordan Burroughs of the United States at 74 kilograms, Jake Varner of the United States at 97 kilograms and Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan at 70 kilograms.
There also are five world champions in the field, including two-time world champions Burroughs and Reza Yazdani of Iran at 97 kilogram. One-time world champions include Alexei Shemarov of Belarus at 125 kilograms, Hassan Rahimi of Iran at 57 kilograms and Haji Aliev of Azerbaijan at 65 kilograms.
The field also includes three Olympic medalists, 17 world medalists, eight junior world champions, six university world champions and two military world champion. There are dozens of other medalists in the event on the continental and age-group levels.
The other Olympic medalists are Coleman Scott of the United States at 61 kilograms, Komiel Ghasemi of Iran at 125 kilograms and Livan Lopez Azcuy of Cuba at 74 kilograms.
While the quality of the individual talent is impressive, at its core this is a team dual meet event, and the individual stars are seeking to do their part in helping their nation win dual meets and take home the Freestyle World Cup trophy.
Of the teams entered in the 2015 Freestyle World Cup, the United States has won 13 team titles, with Russia winning six, Iran claiming five and Cuba winning two. The nation with the most World Cup titles is the former Soviet Union with 15 titles. The World Cup has been held annually since 1973, when it was founded in Toledo, Ohio.
Stephen Neal, who won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots in the National Football league and also wrestled at the world level, is the honorary chair of the World Cup and is helping promote the event.
“Dual meets are awesome,” he said. “You line up the teams. It is not the normal tournament style. You don’t have to wait for a few hours to see the wrestlers you want to watch. You watch the matches, back-to-back-to-back. You get to see the whole USA team, the Iranian team, the Russian team. You have the lineups and know what key matches to watch for. It is a different experience and very exciting.”
Neal placed fourth in the California State Wrestling Championships for San Diego High School, and won a Junior National freestyle title for Team California. He went on to compete for Cal State Bakersfield, where he was a two-time NCAA champion, three-time NCAA finalist and four-time NCAA All-American, competing at heavyweight.
In 1999, Neal won a gold medal for the United States in freestyle wrestling at the World Championships, held in Ankara, Turkey. He was also a 1999 Pan American Games champion in Winnipeg, Canada.
He was also a U.S. Nationals champion, a runner-up at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and winner of a number of medals in foreign tournaments. Neal has been inducted as a distinguished member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
All-session tickets are available, as well as single-day tickets are available for the tournament. Fans can purchase all-session tickets for $60 for general admission and $85 for preferred seating. Single-day tickets, are $35 for general admission and $55 for preferred seating. Fees apply for tickets purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com.
There will be two sessions of wrestling action each day of the Freestyle World Cup. On April 11, there will be sessions at 3 and 6:15 p.m. On April 12, the first session is at 11 a.m., with the first place and third place championship duals set for 4:15 p.m.
For more information on the Freestyle World Cup, visit www.wrestlingworldcup.com.