SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
September 25, 1989
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September 25, 1989


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The most curious sight in Martigny was that of women wrestling. For the first time the world championships included a women's competition, with Olympic freestyle rules and nine weight classes, from 97 to 165 pounds. FILA, the sport's governing body, recognized women's wrestling in 1984 and has lately been promoting it heavily.

"It wasn't too bad, I guess," said U.S. men's team director Greg Strobel. "Some of the women had technique. But some of it was like bad junior high school wrestling." Japan won the team title over 12 other countries.

There's no reason women can't develop into decent wrestlers—girls have won U.S. age-group titles against boys—but they face social barriers and a lack of training opportunities. Members of the American women's team, which placed fifth in Martigny, said that most people assume they wrestle in mud and weigh 250 pounds.

"It's so new, no one knows where it's going to go," said spokesman Gary Abbott of USA Wrestling, the sport's U.S. governing body, which is debating whether to develop a serious women's program. "For us, it could be a large membership base. But it could also make a mockery of what the men do."


Barry Switzer is learning that politics can be nastier than a herd of Texas fans. After Switzer quit as Oklahoma football coach in June, Virginia Jenner, a Democrat from Tulsa, formed the Draft Senator Switzer Committee to encourage him to run for the U.S. Senate in 1990 against Democratic incumbent David Boren. Jenner, who calls Boren "a wimp" and "a closet Republican," said that Switzer had "horse sense, guts [and] the courage of his convictions, and he treats the rich and poor just the same."

Switzer wasn't so sure he should seek office. He said he wouldn't run for the Senate but might consider a bid for lieutenant governor—and would definitely be interested in an NFL coaching job. Jenner found this equivocating intolerable. Two weeks ago, griping that Switzer had shown "a distinct lack of moxie when it comes to politics" and had been "seduced by some of Senator Boren's buddies to run for an errand-boy job as lieutenant governor," she disbanded her committee.

"Not only is Barry Switzer a jock, he's a dumb jock who wants to become the Oklahoma Democrats' Dan Quayle," said Jenner, adding, "Like Jerry Ford, he must have played one too many downs without his helmet."

Because sea gulls off the Great Salt Lake saved Mormon settlers from a plague of crop-eating crickets in 1848 by devouring the insects, the sea gull is both the state bird of Utah and a revered Mormon symbol. Perhaps it was no coincidence, then, that as Washington State football coach Mike Price was taping his postgame television show in Cougar Stadium in Provo two weeks ago, after his team had defeated Brigham Young 46-41, a gull drifted over him and dropped what Price politely called "a deposit" on his head.


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