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Star power at wrestling clinic

Frank Popolizio knows how to bring the stars to Clifton Park.

The founder of Journeymen Wrestling Club welcomed current UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar to Shenendehowa High School for the club's preseason wrestling clinic last Saturday.

I was one of those kids once, so it's great to help them out as much as I can, said Edgar.

Edgar is the latest in a long line of stars from the worlds of wrestling and mixed martial arts to teach at one of Popolizio's clinics. The list also includes Iowa wrestling coaching legend Dan Gable, MMA rising star Urijah Faber and, more recently, four-time NCAA wrestling champion Cael Sanderson.

"It's good for the kids," said Popolizio. "There's a crossover from regular stardom."

Not that it's been easy for Popolizio to get the big names from the world of wrestling to come to the Capital District.

"It's a continual process of courting them to come here and be a part of something helpful," said Popolizio. "They don't always want to do it, but they do it because they know it's helpful to the kids."

Edgar said his background as a wrestler helped him develop as a MMA fighter.

"I love wrestling," said Edgar, who is also an assistant wrestling coach at Rutgers University in his native New Jersey. "It teaches you things that not many other sports " of life, for that matter " can teach you."

Popolizio also appreciates what mixed martial arts has done for wrestling, since many MMA fighters come from wrestling backgrounds. To a point, anyway.

"I think it helps the sport tremendously [with making wrestling popular] right through college," said Popolizio. "And then, it has an adverse effect on us because these go on to fight rather than try out for the Olympics."

More than 350 youth and high school wrestlers attended the clinic.""

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