Wrestling enjoys rich history at FAMU

Photo of FAMU wrestler competing courtesy of 9k.visualz

Wrestling is a physical sport between two people who are trying to assert a positional advantage over their opponent. Wrestling involves multiple styles including, but not limited to folk-style, Greco-Roman, and free-style.

Florida A&M University offers this sport to students who are interested and willing to learn. Considered a club sport, FAMU’s wrestling program has some history. It is the longest active wrestling program at an HBCU in collegiate history.

FAMU regularly hosts practices in the recreation center and competes against other collegiate teams on the weekends.

The wrestling team is a part of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association competing on the Division I level.

“[Wrestling] is an individual sport where you’re pitting your preparation, stamina and endurance against someone else in order to physically dominate your opponent,” said Fredrick Simmons, assistant coach with the wrestling team.

With national emphasis on women wanting to wrestle and receive recognition, the team also tries to meet the needs of female students who’d like to compete at the collegiate level. There are seven females on the team.

“Wrestling has always been seen as a men’s sport, and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago we had our first African American Olympic wrestler win gold for the U.S.,” said Asia Ronan-Johnson, team captain of the women’s wrestling team as well as acting student president of the entire team overall. “Things like that remind us that every single lady who steps on that mat has something worth striving towards, recognition, a banner, a title, or maybe just to inspire the next little Black girl who wants to wrestle but thinks ‘only boys wrestle.’”

One of the traits that set this team apart from others is that the wrestling team doesn’t just focus on the competitive aspect of the sport, but looks to develop the athlete as a person. Wrestling requires self-discipline in multiple areas of your life, and coaches Thomas White and Fredrick Simmons put students’ academics first and wrestling second. “Wrestling is a reflection of your life,” Simmons said.

Due to classification reasons, FAMU wrestling doesn’t provide athletic scholarships, but that hasn’t stopped prospective athletes from pursuing their passion for the sport. The team boasts an impressive combined 13 NCWA All Americans both male and female along with one national champion.

“It changed my mindset about pushing through the trials and tribulations and persevering to get what you want,” Amir Burgees, the 235 pound wrestler on the team.

The team has another tournament coming up next week at 9 a.m. Feb. 11. More details can be found on the team’s Instagram account @famuwrestling where they frequently post updates of all events.