William Hill PLC, one of the largest bookmakers in the United Kingdom, recently named wrestling the odds-on favorite to reclaim its longstanding - though recently endangered - place on the roster of Olympic sports for the 2020 and 2024 Games.
Unfortunately, the picture isn't yet looking quite as rosy to Alex Conti.
"I'm not feeling much better," the longtime Fredonia wrestling coach said ahead of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) September decision on the sport's Olympic fate. "I feel great about the effort to save it, but I still have no idea (which way the IOC will decide)."
Wrestling as an Olympic sport, you'll recall, was dealt a sudden and surprising blow in February when the International Olympic Committee dropped it from the program of the 2020 Games. Since then, in an effort to save the world's oldest sport, its governing body, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), has, in rapid-fire fashion, instituted a number of changes aimed at making the sport more popular, more accessible to both genders and, finally, more spectator friendly.
While FILA has focused on the more technical matters (it elected a new president, instituted rules changes and weight-class alterations and the like) in order to convince the IOC to reverse course, wrestlers and coaches, Conti included, have done their part by holding events across the globe in an effort to show wrestling's popularity is as strong as ever.
As an example of just one of the many events held, Conti, in May, took part in the "Battle at the Falls," a free-admission tri-meet that pit some of the best female wrestlers from Canada, the United States and the Ukraine against one another.
What's more, a veritable pantheon of wrestling greats have come out in vocal support of the sport they love.
"That's been solid," Conti said. "The wrestling greats have really pushed it, from Bruce Baumgartner; to Bill Scherr; to Cael Sanderson, who is an Olympic gold medalist that went undefeated during his college career; to Coach (Dan) Gable... all the big names in wrestling are making a final push.
"But my fear is that it's not about peer pressure, but about financial pressure."
There have, however, been encouraging signs.
A few weeks ago, for instance, IOC Vice President Thomas Bach told the Foreign Press Association in Berlin that FILA "... has drawn its conclusions. It is now here with a new president, new program and new ideas for the sport. That is why I personally believe that wrestling has good chances to come through the vote in September."
Wrestling made it through the IOC's first cut-down process, which was held in late May, when it, along with squash and the combined bids of baseball and softball, beat out other Olympic hopefuls like karate, sport climbing, inline speed skating and wakeboarding, among others.
Conti notes that of the three remaining, squash poses the greatest threat.
"The problem is that squash is a formidable opponent," he explained. "(Those making the bid) have tried (to get the sport included) the last two times so they are organized, well-represented and are making an intelligent approach. They have dotted all the 'i's' and crossed all the 't's'."
Squash was thought to be a virtual shoe-in to make the roster for the next Games prior to the surprising IOC decision on wrestling.
The vote will be put before the IOC's general assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sept. 8 - a little more than two weeks from now.
"It would be a horrible disservice to eliminate wrestling," Conti finished. "The Olympics, its song, the posters, even hieroglyphics... they all depict track and wrestling. I've never seen a hieroglyphic with a stick and a ball, or with a squash racket. So what do you do? Do you erase all of that from the Olympic archives? Do you just scrub it off or chip away the stone?
"It would be a travesty."