LESSONS TAKEN FROM THE MAT TO THE RING
I recently bumped into a fellow high school graduate. It was a pleasant surprise seeing Ben after seventeen years. We updated one another on what we have been up to. We spoke about our college days, our current professions, and our families. We chatted about people we knew back in high school and people we still kept in touch with. But Ben and I shared a special bond together that is as memorable today as it was after we graduated. That bond was formed through wrestling.
It was fascinating how much of an impact the sport had on us. We remembered the coaches, the matches, and life lessons we utilize to this day. I told Ben I was now a boxer and a boxing coach. I told him that I took so many things from wrestling that I have applied to being a successful fighter and trainer.
It is hard to argue that wrestling is one the toughest sports in the world. Every practice sucks the life out of you mentally and physically. You take a beating every day. You give and receive take downs and cross face cradles. You are required to be a certain weight for every dual meet and tournament. After you make weight, it is now time to wrestle one of the baddest guys in the league, section, or state. It is an individual sport, yet you become family. You never forget what you went through and who you went through it with. It is a sport that mirrors boxing.
During the daily grind of practice, making weight, and wrestling all weekend at tournaments, you learn a lot about yourself. You learn about what you are capable of accomplishing. You learn how much you could take and how much you could dish out.
Prior to boxing, wrestling was the only sport that really moved me. It had a strong influence. Sure, martial arts taught me discipline, dedication, respect, and humility. But wrestling was different. The following are just a few things that have stuck with me to this day…
Whether it is pain, an injury, fatigue, or hunger, your ability to tolerate uncomfortable situations increases significantly. Everything else appears easy or not as bad. Working a twenty four hour shift, or being exposed to the elements for hours on end. Or maybe even staying up late with your new born or smashing your thumb with a hammer. Sure, all of that absolutely sucks. But it isn’t as bad as a wrestling season or a left hook to the body.
“KEEP MOVING FORWARD”
This is one of the most unforgettable lessons I learned in wrestling which spilled over to many avenues in my life. I remember one practice where my coach, Jeff Macalolooy, taught us about the dynamics of a wrestling match. He taught us a lot of intricacies and tactics we should use wresting our opponent. But one thing he said stuck with me. Jeff said, “Whatever you do, keep going forward.” He explained that if you keep going forward, pressing the action, going for takedowns, you will eventually break your opponent. If you just keep pressing and do not give up, he’ll eventually give up first. It was a lesson I employed during the season and beyond. It helped me acheive a lot in life. Never give up, because if you keep moving forward, he eventually will.
That mind set it something that I apply to boxing. I continue to move forward, slipping lefts and rights. Sure, I eat some shots, but I roll with them off as best as I can. To this day, I keep moving forward, eventually breaking down my opponents...
DEFINITION OF A TEAM
I have been part of several sports teams throughout my life. Everyone on those teams seemed cordial to one another. But I saw a lot of cliques and individuals. I saw certain people who thought they did all the work or carried the team. I did not see that with wrestlers. Sure, we had studs who stood out. But everyone supported and took care of one another. We pushed and encouraged each other. The wrestling definition of a team is something I have applied to my life to this day.
So when life throws some curve balls at you and you think it’s too much to handle, don’t worry. You will be just fine. God made you a wrestler…
This one is for you Ben. It was great seeing you...