By Peter Schwartz
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When you walk through Times Square in Manhattan, you never quite know what you’re going to see. There’s the plethora of shops, restaurants and tourist attractions to go along with street vendors, festivals and the many superheroes who are ready, willing and able to pose for a photo. But for the last few years, there has been an annual event that has no doubt caused many curious New Yorkers and visitors to stop and take a look.
Wednesday is the annual Beat the Streets wrestling event in Times Square that gives kids the opportunity to learn and compete in amateur Olympic-style wrestling. This year, the featured matchup is a clash between Team USA and Japan, but the event begins at 3 p.m. with matches that highlight wrestlers in the Beat the Streets program.
“Every year we try to showcase the best of wrestling from both an international level and from the grassroots with all that is going on in our programs in the schools,” BTS board chairman Mike Novogratz told WFAN.com. “This year we are lucky enough to have world champions from the U.S. and Japan wrestle, combined with some of our rising stars in both the boys and girls programs from across the East Coast.”
The New York City Public Schools Athletic League’s girls dual meet championships will take place at 4:45 p.m. followed by a matchup of young stars Austin DeSanto, the Pennsylvania state champion, and Daton Fix, the four-time, undefeated Oklahoma state champion. A special scoring system is in place for this match with the first wrestler to score five takedowns getting the win.
Then it’s the main event, as the United States takes on Japan at 6 p.m.. Former Olympic champions Kyle Snyder, Jordan Burroughs and Helen Maroulis, along with 2016 world champion Logan Stieber, are among the stars on the USA team.
The event is capped off with a gala that raises money to help provide wrestling equipment and opportunities to over 3,000 kids across the five boroughs each year.
“There is no better location to do this in than Times Square,” Novogratz said. “It’s the crossroads of the world, and what will again be a memorable night not just for Beat The Streets and wrestling, but for all that is good in international sports.”
Other men’s wrestlers on the USA roster include Tony Ramos, James Green and David Taylor, while Victoria Anthony and Tamyra Mensah are key components of the women’s team. There will also be youth matchups featuring local wrestlers from the New York City Beat the Streets program, including eighth-grader Wilver Mariano-Peralta and 11th-grader Daniel Bogie on the boys side and sixth-graders Keyanie Riddick and Allesandra Elliot on the girls squad.
The objective of the Beat the Streets organization is to see that urban youth develop their full potential and to strengthen the culture of New York City wrestling. As part of the program, over 3,000 kids are exposed to the life-changing sport of wrestling, and they are given the assistance they need to achieve their personal and athletic goals.
So if you happen to be strolling through Times Square on Wednesday and you see a commotion with a big crowd of people, don’t be alarmed. It’s a great event that goes a long way toward enriching the lives of kids through the sport of wrestling.
For more information on the program and the event, visit btsny.org.
Don’t forget to follow Pete on Twitter at @pschwartzcbsfan. You can also follow @BeattheStreets and @USAWrestling.