I Believe in the Power of Wrestling
Wake up. Don’t even look at the clock because if it’s after six you’re gonna be pissed. Eat. One large can of tuna, eat all of it. PLAIN, mayo is for the benchwarmers. Wheat bread. (I HATE wheat bread, but white bread is for the losers.) Do this, it will make you tolerant. Done. Tee-shirt? Check. Other tee shirt on top? Check. Sweatshirt? Check. Hoodie? Check. Two pairs of sweatpants? Damn… I just had to have that extra bag of chips. Check. Filthy, disgusting smelly, sneakers? Oh my god, double check. Run.
Ignore the girls in the street; they cannot save your ass on the mat. Know this, because this will make you independent. Ignore the barking dogs in the back alleys: use them as ambition to run faster, because fear is your worst enemy. Learn this, it will make no man your equal. Sweat, a lot, until that extra bag of chips is gone, because the other guy probably wouldn’t even have looked at those chips. The other guy probably doesn’t even know what fat is. Self control. Shower? Hopefully, this isn’t a beauty contest; the other guy probably doesn’t go near a shower unless it’s to sit in the steam to sweat. Seven thirty: time to head for school. The place you go to wrestle.
You get to school and everyone thinks they know who you are and what you do, but they don’t. Some call wrestling “gay”, some say, “It’s not my type of game.” But they are ignorant, unfit, and most of all afraid. You know this because the pretty boys who call it “gay” would never have the guts to put their bodies through what you do to yours. The people who say “It’s not their type of game” don’t understand that one doesn’t PLAY wrestling, because it is not a game. You cannot try to become a wrestler; you must be one and once you are a wrestler you are nothing else. You can become anything you want, a doctor, an actor- even the president- but you will always be a wrestler within. Wrestling made you more powerful. Wrestling has broken down whoever you thought you were before to make you something else, something far more important and powerful: a teammate, a warrior. With your team, you are one unit and nothing else. Your teammates, once failing students, are now scholastic champs. Once, some were once unpopular, socially awkward outcasts, but now they are superstars. No matter how numerous your weaknesses, your teammates made you stronger. If you were ever too slow during our team jog around campus, the team would rush you on ahead. Wrestling is this.
When you wake up you’re training for the next match. When you pull an A+ on that in class essay, you’re training for that next match. When you choose to eat a salad instead of the usual sloppy Joe at lunch, you’re training for the battle to come. You have never with your own free will worked this hard for anything on your entire life.
When you’re out on that mat, it’s not about winning. In high school it wasn’t about a pin in 5 seconds-it was about the fight. I was no longer Justin the student or Justin the wrestler. I wasn’t even a man. It was an inhuman feeling. After wrestling, you don’t look at things the same way. You perceive things on another wavelength. When you look at a really muscular guy you don’t think, “Gee that guy is really strong,” but you think, “Can he get out of a Peterson?” or “I wonder if he wrestles…” You’re soon able to tell if someone is a wrestler. It’s almost like you can smell it off of their skin. You can read people. Wrestling this, it’s called Power. Self empowerment and confidence is something our society lacks and wrestling allows us to earn this and it is the most powerful thing anyone can conceive.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.