UWW president, Greco-Roman stars to be honored at World Championships

WATERLOO, Iowa—The most influential name in international wrestling will be recognized alongside several of the biggest names in U.S. Greco-Roman history during the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum will induct Dremiel Byers into the Alan & Gloria Rice Greco-Roman Hall of Champions. Nenad Lalovic will receive the Alan Rice Leadership Award and the 2007 U.S. team that won the Greco-Roman World Championships will receive the Legacy Award.

Lalovic is known worldwide as the man who successfully led the campaign to keep wrestling in the Olympics after the International Olympic Committee recommended its removal from the Games on Feb. 12, 2013. Lalovic took over as president of FILA (now United World Wrestling), the international governing body for the sport of wrestling, on Feb. 15, 2013.

His leadership led to the reinstatement of wrestling during the IOC’s meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sept. 10, 2013. Lalovic was unanimously re-elected to a six-year term as UWW president on Sept. 7, 2014.

“President Lalovic has done an incredible job of strengthening wrestling within the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games,” said Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “We are excited to recognize his extraordinary leadership of United World Wrestling during the World Championships this September in Las Vegas.”

A reception for all award winners will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, at the club level of the Orleans Arena after the first session (approximately 4:30 p.m.) of the second day of the Greco-Roman World Championships. This is the sixth induction class.

Alan and Gloria Rice, namesakes of the hall of champions, have been instrumental to the success of Greco-Roman wrestling in the United States. Alan Rice was a Big Ten champion and an All-American for the University of Minnesota. In 1956 he won double national titles in Greco-Roman and freestyle. He also placed fifth at the 1956 Olympics and was coach of the 1972 Greco-Roman Olympic team.

He and his wife, Gloria, founded the Minnesota Wrestling Club. Minnesota enjoys the unique distinction of placing a wrestler on every World and Olympic team since 1964, a record unequaled in American wrestling history.

The Alan & Gloria Rice Greco-Roman Hall of Champions is located inside the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo.

“I’m excited that we get to honor this year’s induction class during the 2015 World Championship,” said Rice. “Greco-Roman wrestling continues to have an important place in our sport. I’m excited that we get to honor this group in such a significant way and during such a significant event. We want the United States to stay strong in this style of the sport.”

Dremiel Byers is considered the most decorated American Greco-Roman wrestler. He is the only U.S. wrestler to win three medals at the Greco-Roman World Championships. He won a gold medal at the 2002 World Championships, a bronze medal at the 2007 World championships, and a silver medal at the 2009 World Championships, all in the super heavyweight division. Byers made eight World teams (1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011) and two Olympics teams (2008 and 2012) during his career.

The 2007 U.S. Greco-Roman wrestling team will receive the Legacy Award for its historic achievement of becoming the first U.S. team to win a team title at the Greco-Roman World Championships. The United States scored 32 points followed by Russia (31) and the Republic of Georgia (28). The win was clinched when Byers won his bronze medal match and Khassen Baroev of Russia lost in 264.5-pound finals to Cuba’s Mijain Lopez Nunez.

The 2007 Greco-Roman World Championships were held in Baku, Azerbaijan, from Sept. 17-19.

The line-up for the 2007 team included Lindsey Durlacher (5th at 121 pounds), Joe Betterman (132 pounds), Justin Lester (3rd at 145.5 pounds), T.C. Danztler (163 pounds), Brad Vering (2nd at 185 pounds), Justin Ruiz (211.5 pounds), and Dremiel Byers (3rd at 264.5 pounds).

Training partners included Willie Madison, Spenser Mango, Jake Fisher, Peter Hicks, Adam Wheeler, and Phil Johnston. Coaches for the team were Jay Antonelli, Rich Estrella, Steve Fraser, Momir Petkovic, Anatoly Petrosyan, Ivan Ivanov, and Shon Lewis.

Rod Rodriguez was the medical representative and John Bardis was the team leader. Rich Bender served as executive director of USA Wrestling.

Contact the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum at (319) 233-0745 or dgmstaff@nwhof.org for more information on the Alan & Gloria Rice Greco-Roman Hall of Champions.