My entrance into the sport of wrestling was very odd. In fact, I would argue that it was pure coincidence or even a miracle that I got introduced to the sport. In my family tree I do not know of anyone that has ever practiced any sports, not even for fun. My father was a fisherman and my mom a traditional stay-at-home mom, and they both grew up in a farm-like community.
After my father passed away at an early age, my mom was left with three boys and lots of catching up to do in order to provide. As a child, I saw how my mom worked very hard to provide and somehow managed to find time to take care of us.
Unknown to my mother, I watched her carefully display a character of hard work, perseverance and sacrifice. The best way I can describe my mom is like a super hero with an unofficial uniform that rises up to face down tyranny, resist oppression, fight the bad guys, and establish justice with a strength of kindness.
Thus, I was able to absorb much from my mom and also developed persistence and grit, at least in theory. Ironically, my mom didn’t like the sport of wrestling or any other sports for that matter. Furthermore, how was I going to persuade her to let me practice? How was I going to explain the sport of wrestling when I had no idea what it was?
I arrived at Club Sparta in San Juan, Puerto Rico thanks to a group of friends that had invited me. I thought I was going to see the WWE-type of wrestling, but they explained to me that this was the Olympic style, the real deal. When I stepped into the wrestling room, I vividly remember that I saw kids doing all kinds of gymnastics and games. This was the bait for me. Although I had no idea what was happening, I liked the games, and that persuaded me to go again and again.
Mom had no issues with me going to Club Sparta to play “games.” Later, I started to understand that many of the games they practiced were geared towards the development of specific areas of wrestling. Then, I learned about the rules and ways to attack and defend. The “games” became wrestling almost without me noticing.
One day I came home with a few scratches, and my mom objected to the “games” I was playing. She wanted me to stop going because it was common for me to come home with a few scratches or cuts from wrestling. However, it was too late. I was emerged and enjoyed the competition aspect of the sport of wrestling. Wrestling became an escape, a way out of the streets, a path to the best possible alternatives.
I enjoyed wrestling so much that when I learned a new technique I would try to practice it with my mom. She looked at me like I was crazy, but I was excited that I was learning and learning. In addition, I was making friends that were also very competitive and worked very hard.
Reality set in when I realized that most of the kids there had been practicing at least six years and so I had to catch up somehow, at least I thought. Honestly, I was just one more kid as I remember, but I started to put into practice the qualities I learned from my mom. Since she was very persistent, and worked hard, I tried to translate some of those qualities I was absorbing from her into the sport of wrestling. I started to do extra exercises and would stay at the end of practice to play wrestle with others as much as I could and I was enjoying it. And as they say, the rest is history.
I would argue that the makeup of my wrestling DNA does not come from my own abilities to work hard necessarily, but rather from my mom’s grit demonstrated as she undertook her challenges. She planted the seed without noticing it and now I continue to develop much of what was passed to me.
Yes, somehow we have to be able to see or perceive such qualities. I think as we grow in knowledge and wisdom and take time to reflect, some people will come to mind whose qualities rubbed off on us in positive ways. I am thankful because even at a young age I started to see some of those qualities in my mom, in my super hero.
Are you able to trace back your beginnings? Can you notice that it wasn’t all just you? From whom were you able to grab, make yours, or rub off positive qualities that contribute to your development?