I love Wrestling. I’m talking about the real sport of Wrestling, not that WWE crap for entertainment.
I’m talking about one man versus another in a grappling for dominance over the other. It’s primal, it’s archaic, and I love it.
There’s something about the sport that has always appealed to me. The main reason I love the sport of Wrestling so much is that it is a lot like life. I like the fact that no matter how much time is left on the clock, no matter how many points you are behind, you can always turn
your life around and pin your opponent. There’s ALWAYS an opportunity to learn…in every victory and every defeat.
But what happens when all you experience is defeat? Do you give up? Do you give in? Do you quit?
For as long as I can remember, my parents have coached me on a very simple idiom, or phrase. It has guided me and helped me make important decisions throughout my life:
“WINNERS NEVER QUIT. QUITTERS NEVER WIN.”
…sometimes to my own demise in not allowing myself to every retreat, surrender, or give up…no matter how hard it gets.
I want to tell you a short story about a young wrestler. He had wrestled all his life. He started when he was about 5 years old and continued every year through high school. It was the only sport he truly stuck with. It was the only sport he truly loved. And he was good at it, not the best, but he was good.
This young boy started high school at a very nice, refined private school and couldn’t WAIT to start wrestling season. He was determined to make Varsity his Freshman year and take a State Championship home–something he had always dreamed of. There was just one problem…he weighed 80 pounds and the lowest weight class was 103 pounds.
This meant that every opponent he would face would more than likely have a walk-around-weight of somewhere close to 125-130 pounds and they would cut that weight to wrestle at the 103 pound weight class. So, if you know anything about cutting weight…these guys would cut for a meet, weigh in at 103, and by the time they wrestled, they’d regain 10-20 lbs almost instantly after re-hydrating, eating, etc. This ultimately, on average gave this young man’s opponents an average of 30-40 pound advantage over him–easily.
It did not deter this young man. Because he loved to wrestle. Plain and simple. People told him he’d never make Varsity because he was too small. People told him he should take up running or something else. People told him that unless he really started hitting the weight room and eating like crazy, he’d never be big or strong enough to make a Varsity squad and ever wrestle under the one. single. solitary. light over the Varsity mat.
He didn’t care. He wanted to wrestle…and wrestle, he did.
The first meet of the year came up pretty quickly, as it usually does. The slated 103 pound wrestler for the Varsity team had not quite made weight yet and wasn’t going to be ready for the first Varsity dual meet. Opportunity had knocked.
The young man got to step up and fill a spot because there was simply no one else who was small enough to wrestle that weight class.
He would get his shot to wrestle under that single solitary light in the gym. (An honor you’d only understand if you were a Wrestler.)
Fast Forward to the match>>>>
The young man stepped onto the mat, lit by a single light in the gymnasium, clearly smaller by at LEAST 25 pounds. A metaphorical David and Goliath match, except the opponent was not 9 feet tall, although it seemed that way.
Nerves had the best of him. 81 pounds at weigh in, he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders as he shook his opponents hand–feeling like his opponent could break every bone in it.
37 seconds later…the match was over. He had proven to everyone what kind of wrestler they told him he was: a loser and a failure.
That young wrestler, didn’t wrestle another Varsity match the rest of his Freshman season. In fact, that young man lost every single match he wrestled. He wanted to give up many times. He wanted to throw in the towel and accept that maybe wrestling really wasn’t for him anymore. He could tell you exactly how many lights were on the ceiling of every gym he had wrestled in…he wanted to QUIT.
But something, or someone, had continually told him:
“WINNERS NEVER QUIT. QUITTERS NEVER WIN.”
He didn’t hate the sport. No one made him stay in it. No one told him he had to finish the season. No one told him he had to finish what he started. No one had to. No one gave him the option because in his mind…it wasn’t one. He loved the sport so much, he was willing to accept a losing season to be better…to learn…to get schooled.
That young man was me.
I lost every single match my Freshman year of High School Wrestling.
The final dual of the season, against a rival team. I won a match! (Despite the fact that the kid accidentally pinned himself, but that’s another story…)
I won ONE match my Freshman year…accidentally.
I never quit…I never gave up. I persevered because that’s what I was taught and it’s who I was and it’s who I am today. This philosophy has always been a part of my life and core purpose.
It’s something I want to teach my kids. And you should too.
Now, I wish I could go on to say I took State Championship titles home the remaining three years of my wrestling career, but that would be a lie…what I will say is that I went on to only lose a handful of matches and I wrestled countless times under the light each year after that. I learned and got schooled that “it ain’t about how hard you hit…it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
I got better.
I got faster.
I got stronger.
And you will too….if you simply…PERSEVERE.