In the United States, the rise of SAMBO began in the early 1970s and was spearheaded by the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (“AAU”) – an organization dedicated to the development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs in the United States.
These efforts were led by Joseph Scalzo – AAU’s then-president – and Russ Weiner, whose enthusiasm for “sambo wrestling” earned him the nickname “Mr. Sambo.” In 1972, AAU formally started promoting SAMBO and sanctioning national competitions for the sport, designated as “sombo wrestling.” In 1973, the United States fielded its first national SAMBO team.
The same year, Burke “Buck” Deadrich – a five-times U.S. freestyle wrestling champion as a heavyweight – won a bronze medal at the first SAMBO World Championship that took place concurrently at the 1973 World Wrestling Championship in Tehran, Iran.
Two years later, in 1975, the first United States National Sambo Championship was held in Mesa, Arizona. The same year, Weiner took part in the 1975 World Sambo Championships in Moscow. In 1977 and 1979, Bob Anderson – a noted American freestyle wrestler – won gold medals in SAMBO at a tournament held in conjunction with the Pan American Games.
In 1980, the AAU hosted the first SAMBO championship for women in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1981, Greg Gibson won gold at the SAMBO World Cup.
The following year, he became the first American to win a gold medal in the World Sambo Championships in Paris, France. In 1983, Becky Scott became the first American woman to win gold at the World Sambo Championships, where other U.S. female participants medaled as well. At the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, the U.S. women’s team also won the team championship.
In 1984, the United States Sombo Federation (“USSA”) was founded to promote the sport in the United States, organize SAMBO tournaments, and recruit and prepare American sambists for international competition.
“USA SAMBO” informally evolved in 2011 from a group of SAMBO enthusiasts, whose main objective was to make sure that the sport persevered and continued to develop in the United States.
With this goal in mind, they voluntarily began hosting SAMBO seminars, exhibitions, and training sessions for the general public.
Utilizing the name “USA SAMBO,” they began recruiting and training Americans for SAMBO tournaments. This progressed into “USA SAMBO” becoming involved in organizing SAMBO tournaments and inviting sambists from other countries to participate and take part in joint training sessions.
FIAS became aware of their efforts, and impressed with these undertakings, eventually appointing “USA SAMBO” as the official governing body of SAMBO in the United States in 2013.
Since official recognition, “USA SAMBO” has trained and selected members for the “U.S. National Sambo Team” that took part in tournaments sanctioned by FIAS in the United States and abroad, including: