By Morissa Lindsay
Beach wrestling has the potential to financially boost the sport tourism product in Barbados and the Barbados Wrestling Association led by President Rollins Alleyne wants to make this island a hub for the sport.
Alleyne who recently returned home to Barbados from the United World Wrestling Congress and World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, said that the 2022 Barbados Wrestling Association Open Beach Wrestling Tournament scheduled for Saturday, October 15th, at Brandons Beach is part of the plan to further expose beach wrestling on the island.
Each member country is mandated by the United World Wrestling led by President Nenand Lalovic, an International Olympic Committee board member, to promote beach wrestling which is expected to be featured in the Youth Olympics of 2026 in Dakar, Senegal.
In 2023 beach wrestling will also be on show for the first time at the Central American and Caribbean Championship in Santa Marta, Colombia, and Barbados will be sending an eight- member team. In addition, beach wrestling is also expected to take place next year at the Anoc World Beach Games.
President Alleyne said there is a push to develop and prepare local wrestlers for Olympic-style wrestling. “Over the years we have been pushing beach wrestling as our strategy to move from how we develop our wrestlers especially the young ones from the beach to the mat to Olympic style.”
However, Alleyne explained that the cost of hosting beach wrestling events in countries that have little resources was ideal for places like Africa, parts of Asia and the Caribbean.
“I just came from the World Championships and based on what I saw they had set up, I could clearly see that is a $5 million bill in terms of the infrastructure. With mat wrestling you need shoes, mats, etcetera, but with beach wrestling we have plenty of beaches in the Caribbean and all you need is a short pants or a t-shirt and most of the men compete bare back. So, beach wrestling has become a sports tourism product,” he explained.
So far the BWA has gotten confirmation from the United States of America, Canada, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago that they will compete in the Beach Open event. There are other countries who are also working on sending participants but Alleyne said they are awaiting final confirmation.
One of the most globally respected administrators in martial arts sports, Alleyne noted that the Barbados Olympic Association has been a constant source of support for national wrestlers along with BTMI, Rascals Barbados restaurant and the Argentina Embassy who are slated to host a special VIP cocktail reception on Friday, October 14th.
This Beach Wrestling event will tie in with the now popular BiiG Games put on by the Barbados Olympic Association. While he did not want to reveal too much, Alleyne shared that the winners can expect a good sum of prize money. In addition, spectators can look forward to seeing Cuban-born competitor Lesyan Otomuro, who currently represents Jamaica, in action.
This is the first time in a few years that international beach wrestling will grace the shores of Barbados and Alleyne said they are using this year to make 2023 even bigger as the world gets back to normalcy post the Coronavirus pandemic.
The BTMI Open Beach Wrestling Tournament will be used as a warm up for the national Under-15 team of Rebecca Williams, Ayden Williams, Kamar Williams and Kodi Marshall who will be competing at the Pan American Championships scheduled for November in Apartado, Colombia.
Meanwhile, the Senior National Beach Wrestling team comprising Lemar Tull, Kcey Williams, Ricandrea Beckles, Adrian Maynard and Reuben Wiltshire will feature in the first CAC Beach Games slated from November 19th to 26th in Santa Marta, Colombia.
Already there are a couple sponsors such as My House, a company that sells wrestling gear in the United States of America, that have come on board and donated prizes for the winners. Imperial Peers, a private school, will be having a beach hand-wrestling aspect for the children during the event which Alleyne explained is a strategy used to populate the event as the BWA seeks to get more people joining the sport.
Beach wrestling in Barbados started six years ago under then president of the wrestling association Vincent Smith.