By Brian Hester
Olympic medalists Jordan Burroughs (2012, gold), Kyle Snyder (2016, gold) and J’den Cox (2016, bronze) were among the world-class athletes that competed as Beat the Streets Wrestling (BTS), the largest grassroots inner city wrestling program in the United States, and USA Wrestling held the tenth annual BTS benefit, dubbed “Grapple at the Garden,” this evening, Monday, May 6, at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Burroughs, a four-time World freestyle champion (2011, 2014, 2015, 2017), battled 2008 Olympian and MMA standout Ben Askren, a four-time NCAA finalist at Missouri, in one of the 13 matchups. Snyder, the youngest Olympic gold medalist and youngest world champion in U.S. wrestling history, faced off against Canada’s Nishan Randhawa, and Cox matched up against Princeton star Patrick Brucki.
Other standout matchups included: two-time National Champion Yianni Diakomahlis (Rochester, N.Y.) vs. Bajrang Punia (India); a match between current NCAA champion Nick Suriano (Paramus, N.J. / Rutgers Univ.) and 2018 World bronze medalist Joe Colon (Clear Lake, Iowa / Univ. of Northern Iowa); women’s bouts between 2017 World bronze medalist and World Team Trials champion Becka Leathers (Chocktaw, Okla.) and Canada’s Dana Weicker, and 2018 Senior World Championships Bronze Medalist Mallory Velte (Sacramento, Calif.) vs. Linda Morais, also of Canada; an all-New Jersey matchup between James Green (Willingboro) and Anthony Ashnault (South Plainfield); and a battle of local State Champions in Jo Jo Aragona (Pope John XXIII HS/New Jersey) vs. Adam Busiello (Eastport-South Manor HS/New York).
The event included three women's matches reflecting the sports growing popularity among girls and women across the USA.
The Beat the Streets Benefit competitions began in 2010 and have since become a major showcase of the best of international wrestling. This unique and electrifying annual event has helped Beat the Streets raise millions of dollars to support local youth wrestling programs which empower young people in New York City. One of the great aspects of this event is that young fans get up close access to the sports stars which in turn provides a great deal of motivation.