Olympic Wrestler Signs on as Athlete Ally Ellis Coleman Joins Ambassador Program

June 11, 2013

Olympic wrestler Ellis Coleman has signed on to become the newest Ambassador of Athlete Ally, a leading organization working to raise awareness about and end homophobia, transphobia, and LGBT bullying in sports. The addition of the star athlete is part of Athlete Ally's ongoing effort to empower allies to help make sports a welcoming environment for all.

Coleman's career culminated at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials where he earned a spot to compete for the United States team in the Greco-Roman 60 kg competition. Coleman, who is of Puerto Rican and African American descent, explained that he has faced discrimination on professional and personal levels and wants to commit to Athlete Ally's mission of ending homophobia in sports.

"I know the negative effects that hate and discrimination can have on people's lives, and that is why I insist that respect and equality stand strong in sport, regardless of people's race, gender, or sexual orientation," Coleman said. "Gay rights are particularly close to my family, and that's why I’ve chosen to take a stand against homophobia in sport - there is no place for it, whether referring to my personal friends or athletes across the world who I’ve never met. We are all equal human beings and deserve to be treated as such."

Akil Paterson who serves on the Athlete Ally Advisory Board and is an aspiring Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling, directly helped connect Coleman to the organization. Patterson said, "Wrestling is one of the most diverse sports in the world. Regardless of your background, size, physical disabilities, weight, gender, nation of origin or sexual orientation, wrestling welcomes you. We hold firm in our faith that wrestling is and always will be one of the most inclusive sports in the history of humankind.  Ellis lives up to that value everyday and I think the international wrestling community respects him for it."

"I'm extremely proud to have an athlete with Ellis'  recognition, values and talents join this cause. It is a true testament to the movement that we are seeing Olympic athletes take action," said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally. "With the sport of wrestling so close to my heart, as a former wrestler and now Division I wrestling coach, I am confident in saying that the power of supporting gay rights is permeating every sport, including wrestling, and making a difference for people across the globe. I salute Ellis for being such a role model and leader."

As an Athlete Ally Ambassador, Coleman joins NBA star Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), WNBA Player Kristi Toliver (Los Angeles Sparks), an NFL contingent of Brendon Ayanbadejo (Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens,) Chris Kluwe (Oakland Raiders), Scott Fujita (New Orleans Saints), Donte Stallworth (New England Patriots), D’Qwell Jackson (Cleveland Browns), Connor Barwin (Philadelphia Eagles) and free agents Chris Gocong, and Eric Barton, tennis greats Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish, MLS stars Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Stephen McCarthy and Chris Seitz, Dan Grunfeld (Israeli Basketball), Rashad Evans (UFC), 12 Minnesota United FC players, and four Australians in rugby stars David Pocock and James Hilterbrand, Australian Rules Football player Brock McLean, and World-Champion cricketer Alex Blackwell along with scores of college athletes who have already signed on.  Coleman will act as a liaison between Athlete Ally and the his peers in the wrestling world. He will help promote Athlete Ally’s mission to end homophobia in sports by speaking out to his peers, sport and fan base, and encouraging his colleagues to join in the effort.