The events that began in the United States with the despicable killing of George Floyd and have rightly reverberated around the world have saddened but unfortunately not shocked me. Wrestling played its part with a US high school coach feeling the need to justify actions of the police officers involved.
Here in the UK the fact that coronavirus (Covid-19) disproportionately affects Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and the Black population in particular just reiterated the inequalities that continue to exist in our society as well as that across the Atlantic.
I took the decision for British Wrestling to support #BlackoutTuesday on social media last week. Whilst a challenging decision to involve the BWA in something outside of wrestling in the strictest sense, it felt accepted with the positive response from our followers and members.
This, of course, is only meaningful if it is more than just a social media post. Relatively new in post, I am very consciously aware of the diversity within wrestling with approximately 55% of our membership from BAME backgrounds. I am also very mindful that this diversity is not reflected at all levels of the sport and in all types of roles.
This is something we can only tackle with open minds to identify our own biases and a steadfast commitment to diversity in all aspects of our sport. I am aware of previous issues that have been raised and whilst I cannot rewrite the past, I am committed to making sure we move forward together as a wrestling family.
Recently we made a promise to ensure that all our coach education tutors receive equality and diversity training, and this was completed just last week. This is a small step towards a greater ambition to ensuring that wrestling is a sport that is open and welcoming to all.
As Chief Executive, I know there is more we can do and initially, our focus will fall on these three tasks:
Whatever we do we must ensure that wrestling is not part of the problem by being willing to address racism and prejudice in all its forms head-on.