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
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.