Legislator-wrestling coach wants his sport to stay in the Olympics
by Howard Lestrud
ECM Political editor
Former Forest Lake High School teacher and wrestling coach Bob Dettmer is wrestling with other issues these days, serving his fourth term as a state representative. He represents 40,000 constituents in District 39A.
Early this week, Rep. Dettmer, a Republican, found himself introducing a House resolution expressing the sense of the House in opposition to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to remove freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling from the Olympic Games beginning in 2020.
Also, this week, Dettmer was speaking against Gov. Mark Dayton’s suggestion that a toll be imposed on the new Stillwater bridge to be built over the St. Croix River. The proposal calls for a $3 charge each time a vehicle crosses on the new bridge.
“This bridge is already being paid for by taxpayers,” Dettmer countered. “I am not a champion of toll roads and I don’t believe a toll was ever part of the initial federal legislation,” Dettmer said. “Just think of what this could do to the price of cheese,” Dettmer said in trying to point out the craziness of the proposal.
The House resolution opposing IOC action on wrestling shows Dettmer’s love for the sport in which he participated and a sport he coached for more than 30 years. Dettmer was a star wrestler at Faribault High School and at Bemidji State University. He also wrestled in the 1972 Olympic Trials losing to eventual Gold Medalist Dan Gable.
Minnesota has an outstanding history of producing outstanding wrestlers, both freestyle and Greco Roman, Dettmer said.
In drafting the resolution Dettmer said he gained support of longtime University of Minnesota coach Jay Robinson and from Dan Chandler, four-time Olympian who wrestled for Anoka High School.
The resolution speaks to the United States as a key competitor in international wrestling competition, especially the Olympic Games, with 124 medals having been awarded to the U.S. throughout history. Greco Roman wrestling has been part of Olympic competition since 1896, including participation by a Minnesotan on the U.S. team every summer Olympic Games since 1968.
The resolution resolves to request reconsideration by the IOC of its decision due to “the immense local and global impact said ruling will have.” Dettmer said the Democrats have introduced a similar resolution but his reached the floor first, he said.
Dettmer, who is in the minority this session, has carved a history in the Legislature for his veterans legislation. He serves in the United States Army Reserve as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CW4). Dettmer served a two-year tour on active duty supporting Operation Enduring Freedom at Fort Gordon, Ga. and later Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Howard Lestrud can be reached at email@example.com.