MARQUETTE—Anatoly Petrosyan, who serves as the United States Olympic Training Center’s Greco-Roman wrestling head coach, is wrapping up his five-day visit to the United States Olympic Education Center tomorrow. He checked on athletes’ progression in school, scouted for America’s next Olympic champions and got on the mat to teach athletes new techniques.
Petrosyan is originally from Armenia. He trained in the former Soviet Union before moving to Baku, Azerbaijan, to coach. As political unrest in the country grew, he and his wife Julia’s lives were at risk. In 1989, they left everything they owned and escaped to America in search of political asylum.
Petrosyan had to start his life over in the United States at age 49. His first coaching job was at Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club in Arizona. In 1994, he was hired by USA Wrestling to head up the new Greco-Roman wrestling resident program at the USOTC in Colorado Springs, Colo. As he worked to build champions, he earned his U.S. citizenship in 1996.
During his time at the USOTC, he has groomed Olympic gold and bronze medalist Rulon Gardener, silver medalists Matt Lindland and Matt Ghaffari, and two-time Olympian and USOEC assistant coach Jim Gruenwald.
“Jim had been there (at the USOTC) since November of 1993,” said Petrosyan. “I came May 1, 1994. I am very proud of Jim. I feel he’ll be successful as a coach at the USOEC because he is a teacher. A coach must first be a teacher and father. I feel Jim and (USOEC head coach) Ivan Ivanov will be able to produce more world medalists.”
Petrosyan also shares history with Ivanov as he was his assistant coach in Colorado from 1995-97.
“He helped me a lot (at the USOTC) and everyone knows he’s been a successful coach here (at the USOEC),” said Petrosyan.
Petrosyan has used part of his time in Marquette to catch up with Gruenwald and Ivanov.
“I got to meet Jim’s wife and kids,” he said. “Ivan invited me to his home and I met his wife and daughter. I’m happy to see them.”
Petrosyan also hit the mat with the athletes during the week, teaching them the two-on-one technique. Athletes can use their two hands to control one of their opponent’s arms to dominate a match; the opponent can’t attack with only one free arm.
“If you’re strong in that position, you can tire your opponent,” said Petrosyan. “If you learn how to hold that position, you can execute any technique possible. I came to the USOEC to explain it to the athletes and now they really know what’s going on.”The athletes will put the new technique to use when they compete at the National Championships April 6-7 in Las Vegas.
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