On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Nate Jackson, a two-time All-American wrestler at Indiana, a current assistant coach at Princeton wrestling, and a founder and president of the Black Wrestling Association (BWA)
We spoke with him by phone Thursday.
The founding of the Black Wrestling Association is a direct product of the mass anti-racist uprisings in America and the world following the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and other Black people. This led to several Black wrestlers including Nate Jackson having discussions about how to respond.
"We were kind of called together, brought together through tragedy. So after the Ahmaud Arbery murder, we sought different ways on trying to bring awareness to Black men and Black people in general being brutalized in our country through overt racists," he said.
Then on May 25 George Floyd was murdered, with the excruciating scene captured on video which was seen by millions around the world. That led to a series of protests, which are still ongoing, against racism, white supremacy, and police violence and murders, which have had the widest support and participation than any such protests since at least the 1960s and perhaps even more than occurred then.
For Nate Jackson and the Black wrestlers with whom he was already speaking, more decisive discussions took place.
"George Floyd's murder was a paradigm shifter, especially in public discussions, just because everyone that I talked to and that I saw around the Internet, everybody reacted the same way. Everybody was in shock," he said.
Now the circle of people participating in these discussions widened.
"We devised a call. And on that call there was about 60 other wrestlers of influence, wrestlers that we thought should be on that call. And this call was facilitated by myself, and we had moderators, most of the founding members. And we had just open discussion," he said.
"And at the end of the call, guess what? We all felt exactly the same about these issues. And in feeling the same, we had a responsibility to do something.
"So after that call came and went, the founding members -- myself, Kerry McCoy, Kevin Jackson, J'den Cox, Kenny Monday, James Green, Gabriel Townsell, B.J. Futrell, Kyven Gadson, and Mark Hall -- we decided to create the BWA.
"And our mission is to inspire, to connect, empower Black wrestlers and allies to grow wrestling through representation, equality, and opportunity," he said.
That was in June. In the brief time since, the Black Wrestling Association has been developing plans to build and strengthen its organization.
We discussed more of what those plans are; how they plan to use their platform as wrestlers to change wrestling and the world; how Black wrestlers need more representation in what is "a pretty insulated sport"; how they are involving some of the Black wrestlers of the past as well as college and high school wrestlers while creating role models for the youth; working to grow the sport of wrestling while striving to do all this; the priority of involving women wrestlers in the BWA; the sad recent passing of wrestling legend Carlton Haselrig; and much, much more.
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Thanks, Eddie Goldman