Frank Chamizo: I’m number one and Kyle Dake needs to understand that
That was the Cuban-born Italian’s message ahead of his upcoming clash with Kyle Dake on July 25, in Austin, Texas.
On paper, it’s an even clash. Two two-time world champions, both in their late 20s, locking horns. But Chamizo sees it differently.
He initially asked Dake to take him on in the Olympic weight division of 74kg (163 lb), where Chamizo won silver in the 2019 world championships and compete at, during the Tokyo Olympics.
But the American insisted that the bout takes place in the non-Olympic 79kg (174 lb) bracket, where he has won the last two world championships.
Frank Chamizo: The glamour man with a divided heart
Frank Chamizo: The glamour man with a divided heartItaly's two-time world champion Frank Chamizo does not shy away from making bold statements even calling himself "a legend". The Cuban-born wrestler is representing Italy while his training is in the United States. Next on his agenda: Gold at Tokyo 2020. "Unitil I get to the top I'm not happy," he told us.
“Let’s do it for the fans and for wrestling"
In a trash-talking rhetoric more associated with the run-up to a professional boxing or mixed martial arts bout, Chamizo explained in an Instagram live interview with United World Wrestling why he agreed to fight at Dake’s preferred weight.
“I want to save the match,” he said of his desire to make the clash happen. “Let’s do it for the fans and for wrestling.
“He doesn’t know what he wants for his career. Is he 79 (174 lb) or 74 kilos (163 lb)? He won one tournament at 74kg, but one victory means nothing.”
Kyle Dake's battle to make the USA Wrestling's Olympic roster
Dake falls into a fairly unique category of athletes where he is a world champion, but faces an uphill battle to make his nation’s Olympic roster.
With his favoured 79kg (174 lb) division not offered at the Olympics, he could move up to 86kg, where he compatriot David Taylor is a former world champion and United States’ incumbent No. 1.
The other option is to slide down to 74kg (163 lb), where he would have to beat 2012 Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs at trials - the same man who prevented him from competing on the World Championship teams or 2013, 2015 and 2017. But with 32-year-old Burroughs perhaps now reaching the twilight of his career, Dake moving down to the 74kg (163 lb) bracket - where Chamizo will also compete - looks to be his more likely option for the Tokyo Olympics.
“I want to show this guy that at 74 kilos we’re not kidding, and you can’t come down (to that weight),” he said.
“I’m the number one here (at 74kg). He needs to understand that. I’ve been a two-time champion at different weights, I’ve got an Olympic medal, I’ve got a lot of speed… Who is this guy and where is he coming from?
“Win a medal in a world championship at an Olympic weight. After that, he can talk to me."
Frank CHAMIZO MARQUEZ (ITA) df. Zurabi IAKOBISHVILI (GEO), 4-3
Frank CHAMIZO MARQUEZ (ITA) df. Zurabi IAKOBISHVILI (GEO), 4-3Men’s Freestyle 65kg 1/4 Finals
Turning wrestling into art… and money
Later in the interview Chamizo spoke about his desire to grow the sport of wrestling through these showpiece events, and increase the financial rewards for athletes.
“I want wrestling to get bigger. I want people to watch it (bouts) from years ago, like art,” he offered.
“We make so many sacrifices and we need some attention. More money. Somebody needs to open the door.
“Like the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), we can be like that.”
Trash talk, smiling, dance moves, and more importantly an unbelievable athlete with multiple international medals. Perhaps Chamizo is ushering in a new era of rock-star wrestlers.