This past weekend I had the opportunity to go see the National Duals for the first time in about 10 years. Cliff Keen the event sponsor sent me to represent them at the tournament. I love going to wrestling tournaments with little to no responsibilities. Almost all of the tournaments I go to now are to coach, and that can be very hectic and stressful. Working this tournament for Cliff Keen I was able to enjoy myself, watch some great dual meets, and most importantly talk to some great people. I consider myself a shy people person. It is hard for me to go up to people I do not know and just start talking, but when I do I will be able to chat with anyone for a long time about this great sport.
One of the best conversations I had this past weekend took place in Bennigan’s after the first day of wrestling. I was by myself eating a quick dinner and watching the football game between the Packers and 49ers. I was exhausted at this point in the day. The day before I worked, worked out, and flew to Springfield. I arrived at the hotel around 11:15pm and after a long day I fell asleep very quickly. The morning came fast and I was slow to get up and moving. I finally showered, dressed, and went over to the convention center to set up and get ready for the wrestling to start. There was not much down time on the first day, the duals ended and started like a revolving door. I spent most of the time wandering around taking pictures and talking to some coaches who did not have a team wrestling during that particular session. Before I knew it the day was over and I was sitting at one of the only seats left in Bennigan’s. Bennigan’s was in the hotel and everyone in the place was there for the wrestling, but let me tell you they were also super fans of football. I was shocked how many Packers and 49ers jerseys were being worn in the bar area. I guess I lose track of reality since I am always in the bubble I call wrestling. I don’t get out much let’s just say that. After I finished my bowl of New England Clam chowder I waited for the half to end and paid my bill and walked away.
I was ready for bed and it was only about 10pm on a Saturday night. As I was leaving I happened to walk by a coach from Ithaca College named Dave Auble. I shook his hand and asked him how his team fared that day. He quickly ran through the day’s events but then turned the conversation to international wrestling. This was my first meeting with Dave and I feel silly for not knowing more about him. I recognized the name from reading the book Wrestlers at the Trials by James V. Moffat. Dave was in the 1964 Olympics and on the 1962 World Championship team where he placed 4th both times. I don’t think he was ready for all of the questions I had for him. I love the sport of wrestling and I love the history of the sport and I study it as much as I can. Lucky for me I had a lot of downtime over the holidays and I probably spent a good 6 hours looking over the FILA international data base. I was researching the most accomplished wrestlers of all time and studying the history of the World Cup. Dave wrestled at a great time in history. America was becoming very strong on the world scene, Russia was emerging as a powerhouse, Iran was very strong, and Turkey was at their best. The Olympics were becoming a true gathering of nations from all over the world and they were being broadcasted for the first time in history. We talked for a long time about some of his matches, his experiences, and some of the greats that wrestled during his time. He told me about Yojiro Uetake, Osamu Watanabe, Alexander Medved, Ali Aliev, Emam Habibi, and Gholamreza Takhti. I only know these great wrestlers by name and accolades, Dave knew them from watching them and spending time with them at tournaments. I was like a little kid listening to all of these stories.
I could have talked to Dave for hours about all of his experiences. I saw myself in him and I pictured everything I have done in my wrestling career and how I will remember it when I am his age. I have had the opportunity to spend time with some of the greatest wrestlers of all time and I have picked up so much from everyone I encounter. This is why I love the sport and meeting Dave was a bonus to all the great dual meets that I was able to watch over the weekend. I am on a long stretch where I am gone every weekend, but this is my life and I am passionate about what I do. I am very fortunate to love what I do so stay tuned for more of my journey to come.