They were telling a story before the Olympic wrestling trials at Los Angeles about the AAU official who approached a television producer and suggested telecasting the matches to help raise funds to send the U.S. team to Melbourne. The television man was interested right away.
"Tell me," he said, "do you have lots of guys with the purple and gold robes with sequins, things like that?"
The AAU man shook his head. The television man's face fell.
"Well," he said, "you do have a couple of guys with marcelled blond hair or some characters who wear monocles?"
The AAU man was sorry.
"You got some guys," the television man insisted, "who wear black masks or spiked helmets? I mean you got some heroes and some villains, haven't you?"
The AAU man had to say no again.
"Well," said the television man, looking at the AAU official as a man more to be pitied than censured, "well, Buster, there will be no television. But I'll give you a little advice. Get yourself an act!"
The television man was wasting his breath. For to the almost 200 young men entered in the Olympic trials, wrestling is a high and holy art, its practice as ritualistic as incense burning. There is nothing funny about it. And the small but devoted band of spectators who followed the week-long, morning-to-midnight parade of matches like it that way.
An amateur wrestling match is a 15-minute contest of strength between two men in a 20-foot-square ring which has no ropes. There are two divisions of competition: freestyle and Graeco-Roman. Freestyle is governed by a complicated set of rules and in Graeco-Roman there is an additional rule against all holds below the waist. Many of the freestyle wrestlers at Los Angeles also doubled in Graeco-Roman. Eight freestyle and eight Graeco-Roman wrestlers are scheduled to make the boat for Australia, but because of doubling in the classifications, there will be fewer than 16 men on the U.S. team (see SCOREBOARD).