I wrestled as a child
With men five times my size
They’d pick me up and throw me down
Laughing the whole time.
They’d tickle me
And take me to the ground
No matter how fast at them I’d run
And only when I had a partner
Together we would make them fall.
I got a little older
And learned to wrestle at a local gym
I’d fight my best friends laughing
And throw them at my will.
Fights in the school yards became matches
I’d take them on even if I didn’t win.
On mat I would continue training
Even after I outgrew the inner rebel teen.
My coaches changed as did opponents
New champions emerged to look up to.
New training partners,
Strategies and injuries
That I would overcome to fight again.
Numerous opponents who were to beat impossible
With training and perseverance,
Eventually I’d win.
Yet none impressed me so much as those who fought
All of their life and didn’t let old age their bodies rot
Those who would come into the room
Forgetting about difference in strength
And take young whipper snaps
By scruff of our young necks
And put us on our backs.
Their wisdom on and off the mat
And smiles that through their wrinkles
Spoke kindness and support when our eyes met.
The sport of wrestling
Which left the body feeling sore
Made my life mean so much much more
Through people like the ones I met
With wrestling shoes on the wrestling mat.
Image of wrestler and coach after championship match win. Taken at California State Wrestling Championships.