Written by Josh Lashley
Just about anybody who’s ever witnessed a wrestling match, let alone those who competed on the mat for any extended period of time, can attest that it is quite unlike any sporting event that they’ve ever seen. Unlike a football or basketball game, where your fellow teammates are on the playing surface at the same time and if you’re not feeling well, someone else can be subbed in for you, wrestling is one-on-one combat. If you aren’t feeling up to par, that’s just too bad. Once you shake hands with your opponent and the referee blows the whistle, the battle gets going whether or not you are at 100 percent.
Further, wrestling isn’t contested at a relatively leisurely pace, like say a baseball game. No, wrestlers go at one another at a furious pace and the action is constant. If a wrestler is outgunned during a match, he has nowhere to hide. When a wrestler is getting dominated, it’s right there for everyone in attendance to see.. This, of course can include their friends, girlfriends and/or family members. If, on the other hand, a football player is getting manhandled at the line of scrimmage, it may get overlooked amongst the other things going on around them.
No question about it, wrestling is a unique experience in the realm of sports. But there are some similarities between wrestling and other sports that are worth delving into. Of course, the differences need to be pointed out decisively as well.
Jesse Jantzen, a star of Real Pro Wrestling who won a National title at Harvard, has thoughtful perspectives in terms of comparisons between wrestling and other sports. Jantzen recently mentioned the sports that he feels are the most comparible to wrestling.
“I feel that boxing, judo and mixed martial arts are similar to wrestling,” Jantzen said. “They’re similar in that all of those sports require weight management, weight lifting, endurance and those sports also feature one on one physical competition.”
Of course, the sports listed by Jantzen differ from wrestling in several ways. As a studious participant and observer of the sport, Jantzen is able to see the distinctions between wrestling and other sports.
“They are different in that in wrestling you are trying to defeat your opponent with control whereas in the other sports you are often trying to injure your opponent to achieve victory,” Jantzen said. “I think that judo is similar to wrestling in that it’s a controlled fight.”
It’s one thing to compare wrestling with other sports where athletes compete in hand-to-hand combat. But what about individual sports that don’t require physical contact with another athlete, such as golf or tennis? What does wrestling have in common with athletic endeavors of that nature?
“I see those sports being similar to wrestling in the mental capacity,” Jantzen said. “You must have extreme mental focus to succeed in tennis, golf and wrestling. Often times, the most successful athletes in these sports are not the most successful in practice. They bring a higher level of mental focus to the competition. I once saw a wrestling t-shirt that said ‘it’s 80 percent mental, the rest is in your head’.”
It’s definitely easier to equate wrestling with other individual sports such as the ones mentioned by Jantzen, but wrestling is also a team sport. Obviously, wrestling isn’t to be categorized amongst ‘team sports’ known world-wide such as football, hockey or baseball, but wrestling fans are well aware that there is a team aspect to the sport.
“Wrestling is a team sport first in that you need a training partner, usually multiple training partners,” Toby Willis the CEO of Real Pro Wrestling said. “Also, it is best to share training facilities so every wrestler doesn’t need to buy his own mat and gym. Therefore, teams provide this efficiency. In competitions, wrestling doesn’t need to be a team sport, but that’s how most people enjoy it.
“It goes hand and hand with the efficiency of the facilities. It’s easy to then extend this partnering to duals and travel, etc. Real Pro Wrestling uses the team concept for many of the same reasons. However, it differs from other sports in that teammates compete one at a time. So during a match, everything falls on the shoulders of one wrestler.”
Like Willis, Jantzen fully understands how wrestling can be viewed as a team sport. Once again, however, Jantzen rightfully notes how wrestling is unlike those competitions which are generally viewed as team sports.
“Wrestling is a team sport in that if you win, you can help your team win,” Jantzen said. “It is an individual sport in that you are alone on the mat against your opponent and there is nothing your teammates can do to help you succeed individually.
“In other team sports, you win or lose as a team. In wrestling, you can lose as a team but win individually or vice versa.”
If you want to see great teams and world class athletes going at each other non-stop for the love of their sport and the entertainment of their fans, definitely tune into the second season of Real Pro Wrestling. You’ll see the differences and similarities between wrestling and other sports for yourself.
“Form, function, uniqueness, individuality, teams, intellect and entertainment all factor into a sport,” Willis said. “There are sports that have a few of these aspects, but not many have them all. Wrestling does have them all which is what makes this sport so unique.”