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Wrestling has a firm hold on me

Wrestling Room

So, sports colleague supreme John Dudley once commented how there's no middle ground when it comes to a youth's initiation into wrestling.

He meant amateur wrestling, by the way. Not the Hulk Hogan/Rowdy Roddy Piper/Nature Boy Ric Flair/Sgt. Slaughter/Captain Lou Albano variety that once hoarded the attention of my Strong Vincent brethren.

I don't remember John's quote verbatim, but it was something along the lines of how you only needed one gym class session on the mat to learn if mankind's oldest known sport was for you or not.

Win or lose, you immediately knew in your gut if you wanted to try it again.

Well, after all-the-way-back-to-kindergarten friend Brian Lipiec gleefully mangled my guts, I can emphatically tell you I never wanted to try it again. Since then, the closest I ever came to a half nelson was watching that Ryan Gosling movie of the same title.

Still, I've come to appreciate the sport since I began covering scholastic wrestling in the mid-2000s.

No, make that sincerely appreciate.

Basically folks, you have to have a different mindset to wrestle. And I mean that as a compliment.

For some reason, it seemed many of the entrants I saw up close during March's PIAA tournament bore more physical wear and tear than those from past meets.

One wrestler was in danger of losing by injury default because of spigotlike nose bleeds.

Another competed with a mammoth gauze sticking out of his mouth, courtesy of the stitches that desperately tried to connect his split lip.

Two others were removed on a stretcher.

Feel squeamish?

Well, that's the idea.

Because no other sport demands -- requires, really -- so much personal sacrifice than wrestling. I've come to believe its participants are noble just for considering it in this sedentary society of ours.

And to compete and train for two decades like four-time Olympic medalist Bruce Baumgartner did? Well. ...

Those same Summer Games are the reason I'm for once using this column space as the bully pulpit it's always had potential to be.

That's because the International Olympic Committee is threatening to drop wrestling from its competition as of 2020.

Let me clarify that with previous words.

The International Olympic Committee is threatening to drop wrestling -- mankind's oldest known sport -- from its competition as of 2020.

If that angers/infuriates/frustrates you even the slightest, please sign this online petition (www.ipetitions.com/petition/olympicwrestling/).

Even if you've never wrestled in your life, hopefully you'll help the sport escape from this fatal hold.

Posted April 14th, 2013. Filed under Olympic, Save Wrestling Tagged:

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