When looking at Rueben Felder, most people don’t see one of the toughest wrestlers walking FAMU’s campus. Instead they see a guy who some may consider short or scrawny.
But looks can be deceiving. A junior health care management student from Miami, Felder is a two-time tournament championship winner of the 133 weight class of the Florida A&M wrestling team.
Felder recently won his second championship at the Florida Classic, which was held at the University of Florida. Felder said he started to wrestle in the 10th grade and this is actually his sixth season wrestling.
“I was running cross country in 10th grade and the wrestling coach asked me to join the team,” said Felder, 21.
Felder said he was hesitant at first to join, however when he found out that most of the guys were running cross country to get in shape for wrestling, he jumped on the decision to try something new.
The rest is history. His commitment to the sport is what has aided him in becoming one of the best wrestlers in his respected weight class.
Jude Moreau, the assistant coach, said Felder is indeed different from other wrestlers.
“He is driven to be the best he can be at his craft,” said Moreau, 24, a criminal justice student from Orlando.
Felder said what makes him different from most wrestlers is his dedication. When he is on the mat, he said feels his opponent has not outworked him in the days leading to that match. Felder said he works hard at what he does and takes it very seriously.
Administrative assistant Kiana Lewis, 24, a graduating senior, said Felder is very motivational.
“He keeps the team motivated,” said Lewis, a health science student from Tampa. “He keeps the team together as a whole and shows good leadership.”
Leadership is another big thing with Felder. He said he tries to lead by example, or in his words, “show other teammates where they need to be.”
Without a doubt, Felder is good at what he does and compares himself to Cael Sanderson, an Olympic gold medalist and four-time undefeated NCAA wrestling champion.
Felder said Sanderson and he are alike in terms of technique. He said they are both offensive and aggressive in their approach to their matches.
Felder, who isn’t short on confidence, is very optimistic about the upcoming national championship for the wrestling team. He said it is his turn to shine.
“I feel this year is my year to get a national medal,” he said. “I am willing to put it all on the line. I know I have the heart.”
Although wrestling may end for him this year because of a nagging a knee injury, Felder said he never really intended to pursue the sport beyond college.
However, no matter what happens with the 5-foot-5-inch tall, 133-pound athlete, one thing is certain: his confidence is definitely in the right place.