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Bruce Thompson honored at 35th anniversary of 1980 Olympics

Bruce Thompson (Photo by Tom Elling and Jim Thrall for International Fraternity of Wrestlers)1 / 2
(From left) Justin Basch, CEO of Basch Solutions, Bruce Thompson, and Steve Fraser. Fraser is the first American Greco-Roman Wrestler to win a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics along with Thompson’s teammate Jeff Blatnick. (Photo by Tom Elling and Jim Thrall for International Fraternity of Wrestlers)2 / 2
Priscilla Hunter
International Fraternity of Wrestlers

CHICAGO (Sept. 25, 2015) - On Friday, Sept. 11, Morris resident Bruce Thompson, a member of the 1980 Olympic Wrestling Team was honored at a dinner and awards ceremony to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the XXII Olympic Games in Moscow.
 The invitation-only event was held at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas between sessions of the 2015 World Wrestling Championships. With more than 200 guests in attendance, the 20 members of the 1980 team, 15 who were present, became lifetime members of the International Fraternity of Wrestlers.  Not only were they recognized for their missed opportunity, but were also lauded for their professional and personal accomplishments on and off the mat. The event was hosted and produced by the International Fraternity of Wrestlers and the National Registry 4 Wrestling.
 At the time the 1980 team was believed to be the best US Olympic Team and favored to bring home several medals. The athletes missed their opportunity to compete due to the United States-led boycott of the Games in which more than 60 nations did not participate in retaliation of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan earlier that year. Each member of the 1980 Team provided a statement. Below is what Thompson said. "After a somewhat disappointing performance in the 1976 Montreal Games, I had made the decision to continue competing for another four years with the goal of winning a medal at the 1980 Olympic Games. While it was a huge commitment and sacrifice,  I knew that it was within reach. I had defeated several World and Olympic champions and knew I was close. Once the decision was made, I was all in. We did our fundraising and competed in as many international tournaments as we could afford. Sometimes that involved going into debt because often the funds we were able to raise were not enough. In fact, days before one of our events the decision to boycott the Moscow Games was announced. I remember thinking that they had no right to use the Olympic Team for their political purposes. The Olympics were intended to transcend all of that. At that time, we were not able to coach or do clinics. Allowing a paid professional athlete to compete was of course out of the question. We all did the best we could working odd jobs, hoping we would be able to go back to work after a three to eight-week training camp, usually without pay. Once we realized that this was not going away, we were invited to the White House where we were outfitted and treated like an Olympic Team should be. But, it wasn't the Olympic Games. It wasn't what we trained and sacrificed for. I was part of the 1980 Olympic Team. Once an Olympian, Always an Olympian!"

The International Fraternity of Wrestlers is a membership-based organization created by and for competitive wrestlers. IFW is dedicated to connecting all those who have wrestled, coached and/or officiated at any level during their lifetime to this elite brotherhood of wrestling. The collective strength of our members and business leaders creates greater purchasing power and larger share of voice when promoting and advocating on behalf of the great sport of competitive wrestling. The National Registry 4 Wrestling is a membership organization whose mission is to increase wrestling’s fans, build a registry of wrestling fans across the nation and re-engage the six to eight million Americans who wrestled at the high school, college or club level. NR4W seeks to leverage the group’s mass demographics and purchasing power to benefit the sport of wrestling and ensure amateur wrestling continues its 3,000-year history as an Olympic core sport. Thompson, a two-time Olympian (1976), started wrestling at Prior Lake High School in Savage, Minnesota. He and his brother Brad played a major role in starting the wrestling program at Prior Lake High School.  He attended St. Cloud State where he was a two-time NCAA Division II All-American.  Thompson won two gold medals at the Pan-Am Games and qualified for four World Teams. Many consider him to be the best lightweight American Greco-Roman wrestler in Olympic history.

Brooke Kern

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