Hortonville hosting first international youth wrestling tournament in U.S.

The Aviators Wrestling Club hosts the first international youth wrestling tournament in the U.S. It's more than wrestling - it's the experience of a lifetime
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 7:47 PM CDT
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HORTONVILLE, Wis. (WBAY) - Wrestlers from around the globe will go head-to-head against Americans this weekend at the Aviators International Youth Wrestling Tournament.

“I’m very excited. It’s the first time for, for our team to be at the U.S., so we are really, really excited,” Matteas Huhta, a wrestling coach from Sweden, said.

After years of traveling and making friends with coaches worldwide, the Aviators Wrestling Club will host the first-ever international youth wrestling tournament to happen in the U.S.

“We are staying with families here in their homes. They open their doors to us to complete strangers, you know,” Swedish wrestling coach Samuel Eriksson said. ”To go to school in another country, it’s, it’s crazy. But it adds to the experience. All those things are something, something new and something.”

“A couple of years I’ve made multiple contacts. I’ve taken kids overseas multiple times, and I started inviting teams and asking them if they would come here, and when they said yes, so here it is, this is happening,” Jason Kleinschmidt, founder of Aviators Wrestling and a coach.

Come Saturday, wrestlers from Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, Mexico, Uzbekistan and Germany will take to the mat in Hortonville to see who comes out on top.

“On the mat, if our kids will wrestle the American kids, it’s not going to be friendly anymore,” Eriksson said, smiling. “I hope we will show the Americans that we are, we are stronger. That’s what I hope.”

But for many coaches, this tournament is about so much more than wrestling.

“I think it’s, it was really a lifetime experience for them, and to see that, people in this part of the world don’t do anything different than we are doing, you know, wrestling is the same all over the place,” said Huhta.

The coaches hope that by staying with local families and going to school with Americans for a few days, their kids can get a bigger picture of what makes wrestling so great.

“I think I’ve said it many times to everyone I meet, but wrestling, it’s like one big family. It really brings people together,” Eriksson said.

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