BERLIN, June 19 (Xinhua) -- German Greco-Roman wrestler Frank Staebler has urged the United World Wrestling (UWW) to increase efforts to secure the sport's future.
"Wrestling is a sport that can unleash a paramount power. We proved that today. I hope we have set a trademark and created an example to follow," the three-time world champion said after a farewell show to end his career in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
5,000 enthusiastic fans followed the 32-year-old's invitation to witness an evening of wrestling called "the last fight" also featuring show elements and music acts.
Nine international wrestling stars from nine countries completed the collection of sporting stars.
Iran's 2020 Olympic champion Mohammadreza Geraei, Cuba's five-time gold medal winner Mijain Lopez, Moldova's 2021 world champion Victor Ciobanu, 2018 Asian champion Mohammadali Geraei, and Kyrgyzstan's 2020 silver medallist Akzhol Makhmudov delivered an example of how to combine wrestling and entertainment.
Two-time European champion Staebler announced he would continue to serve as a wrestling ambassador and promote the sport after retiring.
Nenad Lalovic, president of the United World Wrestling (UWW), seemed impressed after attending the event.
"He asked me to possibly take up a job in the association to help support the sport," Staebler said after a brief talk with the Serbian official.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach provided a video message for the event praising Staebler's passion for wrestling. "Frank is a role model and a champion not only on the wrestling mat. He delivered true sportsmanship coming back after several setbacks and achieving great success," Bach said.
Since being elected in 2013, Lalovic triggered significant changes to increase the sport's attractiveness and force athletes to be more active in competition. Passive athletes now face penalty points.
Following the changes and a global outcry from wrestling fans, the IOC in 2013 took back the decision to exclude wrestling from the Olympic program and confirmed the sports' participation in the 2020 and 2024 Games.
"Today the winner is wrestling. We must attract more young talents to take up wrestling. This evening was a perfect start as we saw many youngsters in the arena having fun with our program," the German athlete stated.
Staebler's success has triggered new enthusiasm for wrestling in Germany, after the sport suffered from a decreasing number of youngsters taking up the sport over recent years.