Character and Courage
One’s character can be boiled down to the sum of one’s actions and/or one’s habits. John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyways.”.
Character and courage are two terms that come to my mind when I see wrestlers quit. Looking back to the 2021 Olympic Team Trials, and more recently the 2021 World Team Trials, we saw wrestlers enter the tournament, lose on the front side of the bracket, and then choose to not show up and wrestle on the backside. It shows their true character: one that is lacking courage. It is heart wrenching to train, to put the time and sacrifice in, and then fall short of your goal… I’ve felt it. BUT… how you deal with that adversity is what shapes you as a person. Adversity is the great revealer. Are you going to have the courage to get back out there and do your darn best after a loss or are you going to make some excuse and quit? That decision will show one’s true character.
True Warriors never quit because they have morals and principles that can not be corrupted. It takes character and courage to keep our morals and principles from being compromised when we are faced with adversity. It takes character and courage to fall short, to get up back up, and to keep fighting.
Kids are terrible at taking advice, but they are great at following examples. What kind of standard and example are we setting for those kids who are looking up to us and want to one day fill our shoes and attempt to be the best wrestlers in the world? If you as an athlete quit and chose not to wrestle back how are you supposed to effectively coach, mentor, or parent? How are you supposed to tell a young person who looks up to you to do the right things? If we set bad examples in our lives we are setting those kids up for failure… lowering the bar of expectation because it shows them it’s ok to quit if they don’t get their way.
Preach only what you practice. This world has far too many preachers. People that sit around and talk about this ideal while they have never even attempted to strive for such a thing. We need doers. We need people who lead from the front and lead by example.
There’s a lot of talk about “growing the sport”. There are a lot of good ideas out there, but I’ll add one more: wrestle back, show upstanding character and courage. We have to solidify the foundation for those who come after us. The best thing we can do as wrestlers is to set good examples of character and courage by overcoming adversity and continuing the fight even after our hearts feel like they have been ripped out. Our society needs wrestlers and wrestling more now than ever. Instead of lowering the expectations we need to keep them high so our kids learn to fight and take accountability even when they don’t feel like it!
Photo Tony Rotundo
God works in ways we can’t always comprehend. This is because He is the Supreme Creator and He has a plan for each one of us. Most of us don’t take the time to sit in stillness to hear what He is telling us. So when we don’t take the time to listen to Him he gets our attention in creative ways.
For some, God burdens us with an addiction. We sit and ask ‘Why God? Why do You burden me with this?’. Part of the healing process for one with addiction issues is entering Alcoholics Anonymous to help overcome this addiction. The addict enters this program for help. Help to fix a symptom. Once they enter the doors of a meeting they begin to find not a fix for the symptom, but they find the root of the whole issue. They strayed from God. They find God! God says, ‘Hey, child, now you see and hear Me. Welcome back to My flock. Let me help you fix this issue at its root.’. The addict refused to listen so God used His creative Spirit to get the addict's attention in order to bring the lost sheep back to His flock.
Much like the addict, my journey to God and healing on all planes, of this world and the next, has been the work of His creation. He never granted me my prayers until I LISTENED to Him and made STILLNESS a priority. He struck my foot down with injury so I would be humbled, so I would listen to the body He gave me. My body was crying out to be taken care of, but I kept refusing. I came to LA to fix my foot, a symptom. I’m leaving LA after a physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional journey that has allowed me to realize the foot was just a symptom. The issues were much deeper. We can’t just look at the symptoms and attempt to fix them. Soon enough another symptom will appear and we will continue to chase our tail until we get to the root of the issue. I’m grateful for my inner circle and God and the opportunities they have presented me in order to heal the way God intended… on all planes! Physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.
Thanks be to God for all His creative ways and to all the mothers and soon-to-be mothers! Happy Mother’s Day!
My Top Five Book Recommendations
When we read, not only are we improving memory and empathy, but research has shown that it makes us feel better and more positive too. Science has shown that reading has some amazing health benefits, including helping with depression, cutting stress, and reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer's later in life.
I told myself five books, but I couldn’t help myself and had to group a couple together. The first four books are related to World War II. There is a laundry list of reasons for that, but I will keep it simple. The aftermath and consequences of World War II have always fascinated me. From the leadership to the men in the trenches to the battle of conflicting ideologies to the old and young on the home front. That brings me to a personal reason why I fancy this era so much…my grandmother. My grandmother, Kathe Moore (her maiden name is Gentsch), lived on the outskirts of Nürnberg, Germany during the war. I have always looked up to this amazingly humble and strong woman who has been very influential in my life. A little context to why I admire her so much…grandma worked for NAPA Auto Parts for 40 years, her one and only job here in the States. She worked those 40 years in a warehouse-like setting, which wasn’t easy work, and she NEVER MISSED A SINGLE DAY OF WORK AND WAS NEVER LATE! In 40 years…imagine that. Imagine 40 years, 14,600 days of work, and never missing a day and never being late. Hard work, toughness, and dedication is in my genetics…and that is one of four examples from that generation that keeps me strong, dedicated, and determined. (I’ll talk about the other three in a future blog.)
Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen E. Ambrose, chronicles the American campaign on the Western Front during World War II. This book gives the reader a good understanding of the sacrifices our servicemen made in order to win the war against Nazi Germany. As the title points to, ordinary citizens no different from you and me put their lives at home aside for something much bigger than themselves…our beloved United States of America.
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, is an amazing book that was turned into a terrible Hollywood movie. I highly recommend this book, but I do not recommend the movie. The book is a rollercoaster of emotion that keeps you flipping page after page. Through the book you’ll follow Louis Zamperini from an ornery young kid of immigrant parents, to an Olympian, to a bombardier, to a POW, to an abusive husband, and finally a saved man. Mr. Zamperini made a promise to the Lord somewhere along his journey, forgot that promise, and finally came around to being saved years later. This ultimately changed the trajectory of his life.
Give Me Tomorrow, by Patrick K. O’Donnell, is a phenomenal book on Man’s fighting spirit and how far a Warrior will go to save the lives of those with whom he shares a foxhole. One of the main characters, Rocco Zullo, drew me in from the start. He epitomizes what it means to be a leader and he always put the needs of the men underneath him before the needs of himself. Another reason why this book finds its way on my list is because it is about the Korean War, a war my grandfather found himself fighting in. My grandfather, the husband of the grandmother mentioned above, spent his retirement years reading and reflecting. Of all the books I’ve inherited from his collection this book was not one of them. He handed down hundreds of books to me, all on history, and not a single one was about the Korean War. He said, “I was there, I don’t need to know any more about the subject.” I’ve always had an interest to know more about the war my grandfather served in. This book gave me insight into why he didn’t feel like revisiting that chapter of his life.
Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rule for Life I highly recommend right now, due to the current landscape, or anytime you are going through a difficult or hard time. There are two things that make this book so great. The first being Mr. Peterson is an extremely rational and smart man who does not back down from a conflict or someone attempting to discredit him. The second is that every one of the 12 rules Mr. Peterson list he backs them up with BIBLICAL principles.
Here I’m grouping Stalingrad, by Anthony Beevor, and the Fall of Berlin, by Anthony Read and David Fisher, together because they are the turning point and the end of World War II respectively. Both of these books do an amazing job of not only showing the grand strategic importance of the battles, but they also give the reader a glimpse of what it was like for the civilians living under siege. Admittedly the Battle of Stalingrad was far more brutal, on both the civilians and soldiers alike, than the Battle of Berlin. That being said they are both good examples of how the momentum of the war shifted and how, by 1945, both sides were ready to be done fighting.
Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany by Steven Ambrose
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor/Fall of Berlin by Anthony Read and David Fisher
Give Me Tomorrow by Patrick K. O’Donnell
12 Rules for Life by John B. Peterson/ The Bible
Thanks to Tony Rotundo and WrestlersAreWarriors.com for capturing the photo used in this blog at the Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa last month.
Mans Connection to the Warrior’s Spirit
After being in the Caucasus Mountain region of Southern Russia I have realized a few things that makes the men there different than the men in the States. It’s nothing physical, necessarily, but philosophical.
In the Caucasus region- ie. Ossetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan- they are priming their boys and young men for the Fight. Every aspect, as far as the combat sports realm goes, of their lives revolves around preparing the mind, body, and soul for the Fight. The important thing to realize, though, is that that Fight isn’t necessarily on the mat or in the ring. These people have a history and culture that has roots running thousands of years deep. Throughout those years they have had to fight empire after empire as those empires vied to control this strategically important region. From their point of view, it is only a matter of time before they are going to have to rise up and fight again. History repeats itself, the people of the Caucasus understand that, but the details each time around tend to be different. Since the details of the Fight that is inevitably going to come are not know, a warrior must be prepared and educated to the Fight.
Here in the States people are deliberately ruining our men, pacifying and neutering them, and in turn our men are losing their connection to the Fight and the Warrior’s Spirit. It wasn’t long ago many aspects of our society were geared toward preparing our boys and young men for battle. The structure of schooling, P.E. classes, and sport- though subliminal- were all geared toward preparation. We have no, immediate physical, enemy and in turn we have let ourselves become lax, fat, soft, and unprepared for the Fight that is to come. Who will protect the Rights, Values, and Liberties we so cherish? Who will protect our young, our old, our women, our disenfranchised?
These questions are important to ask as we move forward. Are YOU doing enough to prepare your self and the young men around you for the Fight? If not, why? If not, when? We must remember it is as much a philosophical and mental preparation as it is physical.