Wall Street Journal: Going to the Mat With a Gift

Michael & David Barry

Wall Street Journal

Brothers David and Michael Barry have a passion for wrestling and are supporting their alma mater Columbia University with a $1 million gift to endow an assistant wrestling coach position.

David, 45 years old, and Michael, 43, are principal owners of Ironstate Development Co., a real-estate development and management company in Hoboken.

The brothers say that the decision to support the program is to help “make sure that Columbia’s program thrived and would stick around for the future,” said David, adding, “Wrestling at Columbia was an important part of our experience and development.”

While at Columbia, Michael was a four-year letter winner in wrestling. He majored in history and graduated in 1989.

David was a first-team All-Ivy League selection as a sophomore and captain of the team during his senior year. He majored in history and pre-med and graduated in 1987.

Though a traditionally small program, Columbia wrestling has a long history, with records dating to 1903. For David, the importance of wrestling as a sport is “wrapped up in being a male, in a sense. It’s very fundamental, it’s very old and goes back to the ancient Greeks.”

The Barry brothers feel that the federal Title IX law, which requires federally funded education programs to offer equal opportunities to women and men, has caused cutbacks in men’s wrestling programs at some universities.

“Title IX put a lot of pressure on wrestling programs in particular and so it was really important for people to step up and help,” said David. The assistant coaching position will raise the profile of the team and help to retain and recruit good coaches, he said.

In the years since their graduation, the brothers have returned to the school for matches and have hired members of the wrestling team for summer internships. David also supports a youth-wrestling program in Greater New York called Beat the Streets.

The brothers view wrestling as a great sport to teach kids how to work hard and take individual risks, while still working as a team.

“It’s you out there alone but also as the member of a team,” said Michael. “You’re experiencing both aspects of the sport more so than in a typical team sport like football.”

And like all sports, it teaches kids confidence and how to lose gracefully, though “in wrestling it’s even just a little bit more demoralizing and difficult,” David said.

Columbia’s program is on the “upswing, for sure,” said David. Two members of the team are set to compete in this year’s NCAA wrestling championships.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: