InterMat Wrestling – Ohio youth coach charged with child endangering, hazing

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Bart Freidenberg, active in various aspects of youth wrestling in the state of Ohio, has been charged with child endangering and hazing, based on an alleged incident in Franklin, Ohio — a community about halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton — last summer.

Both charges are misdemeanor offenses.

A 14-year-old wrestler from Cincinnati was participating in a wrestling camp conducted by Freidenberg in June 2018 at Franklin High School (but not affiliated with the school) to prepare for an eight-week tour that summer as part of Freidenberg’s Ohio All-Star Wrestling Team.

The father of the teen (neither has been identified in media reports) said his son was pinned down by other wrestlers who then lifted his shirt, hit and clawed repeatedly at his chest, and then rubbed Icy Hot pain cream all over him, a ritual the father said the participants called “surgery.”

When the father went to pick up his son and ask Freidenberg about the incident, he said the coach “kinda laughed it off like some locker room horseplay,” and that the man’s son was exaggerating what happened.

“Bart knew and described to me what the term ‘surgery’ meant,” the father told the Columbus Dispatch.

“It appears to me that this was something that was done either at the encouragement or the ignorance of the coach, when there was an expectation that he would be monitoring things,” the father continued.

In related news, Freidenberg’s Ohio All-Star Wrestling Team sought to use Franklin High School again this summer but was denied by the school superintendent because of the current investigation of the alleged hazing incident from 2018.

“We don’t condone that type of behavior,” Franklin City Schools Superintendent Michael Sander told the Dayton Daily News. “I’m very glad that 14-year-old young man had the courage to tell his parents about this.”

Sander, who has served as a high school coach in the past, said the Franklin district has not had any hazing incidents among its student-athletes and teams because people know it’s not tolerated and they don’t do it.”

“When parents send their kids to athletic or academic camps to improve themselves, they should feel their child is safe and that they’re not exposed to that type of behavior,” Sander said. “Coaches are supposed to be role models.”

When contacted by multiple media outlets in Ohio, Freidenberg referred questions to his attorney, Mark Minister, who declined to comment.

Freidenberg, 58, has been actively involved in amateur wrestling in Ohio for decades, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

He founded the Ohio All-Star Wrestling Team, according to his biography included in this year’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament media guide. The program, operating for more than three decades, takes sixth- through ninth-grade wrestlers on summer wrestling tours across the country.

Freidenberg also founded and operates the Ohio Tournament of Champions, an annual competition for youth wrestlers now in its 27th year. The tournament, held in Columbus, draws 2,500 wrestlers. It will be held this year on April 27 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus.

Freidenberg has been involved with the Ohio High School Athletic Association in various capacities, from helping with photography to managing records, said OHSAA spokesman Tim Streid.

In addition, Freidenberg is director of the Ohio District for Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Wrestling and is a member of the AAU Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Freidenberg has coached wrestling with Bexley, Olentangy Local, Southwest Licking and Canal Winchester school districts, all located in central Ohio.

Prior to his involvement in coaching, Freidenberg served as head wrestling manager at Ohio State University from 1979 to 1982, according to his hall of fame bio on the AAU Wrestling website.





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