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Do you want to be tough? Get involved with Greco

Some of the biggest stars in wrestling, mixed martial arts have competed in Greco-Roman wrestling

By Steve Fraser, U.S. National Greco-Roman Coach Do you want to be tough? Do you want to be able to outbattle your opponents? Do you have a dream of becoming an NCAA or Olympic champion some day? Or maybe you want to excel as a MMA fighter after your wrestling career? Then get your tail involved with Greco-Roman wrestling! Yes, of course you can – and should – wrestle folkstyle. That

is the style preferred by our nation. However, please don’t stop there. If you want to become an Olympic or World champion some

day, you have to wrestle all three styles of wrestling. Folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman are the three styles I am talking about. In fact, if you want to become an NCAA champion or even a

state champion, you should be wrestling all three styles. Just ask the many superstars of our sport like Kendall Cross (Olympic champion), Kevin Jackson (Olympic champion), Sammie Henson (World champion), Kyle Dake (3-time NCAA champion) or David Taylor (NCAA champion) to name just a few. All are experienced in Greco-Roman Wrestling. Yes, Greco teaches you upper body wrestling techniques. However, Greco-Roman wrestling teaches and trains you in so many more areas of the sport. Besides becoming a dangerous wrestler with throws, Greco-

Roman teaches great pummeling skills and great hand-fighting skills.

Greco develops super core strength and outstanding cardio- vascular conditioning. It allows for you to shut down your oppo- nent’s attacks and neutralizes many lower body attacks. Not to mention all of the mental strength that it helps to devel-

op. Why do you think so many former Greco wrestlers have done

so well in the MMA world? Dan Henderson, for example, who is still fighting at 42 years

old, would be the first to tell you how beneficial Greco was to his MMA success. Dan has competed in the MMA for 15 years. He has won numerous titles and belts in multiple organizations such as the UFC, Strikeforce, and PRIDE.

34 USA Wrestler At 42, he is still considered one

of the toughest, most dangerous fighters in the game. Before his outstanding 40 fight

career in the cage began, Henderson was a two-time U.S. Olympian (1992, 1996) in Greco- Roman wrestling. “You definitely have to be dedi-

cated,” said Henderson of being an Olympian. “You have to be able to learn and to get into shape and be able to do all the cross-training that is involved. I think that's why I'm so mentally tough, because I competed like that. Wrestlers in general are fairly mentally tough. “The biggest thing is the dedication involved - the commit-


ment. It was obviously one of my goals. It was something that I wouldn't trade for anything. It definitely made me much more of a patriotic person. There are all the countries there, and to rep- resent the United States was awesome. Barcelona was my first time and I was 21 years old. I was really excited about it, but it didn't compare to wrestling for my country in my home country in Atlanta. I think I was the first American to compete, so the crowd was really waiting for an American to come out and it happened to be me.” What Henderson has been able to accomplish in MMA should

be reason enough to sway the uninformed of a Greco-Roman wrestling mat’s ability to forge hardened fighters. But “Hendo” is far from alone, as UFC veteran Matt Lindland

won a silver medal at 76 kg at the 2000 Olympics, former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture was a three-time Olympic alternate, “The People’s Champ” Chael Sonnen won high honors in several international tourna- ments and was an Olympic alternate, and the original depiction of Greco-Roman wrestling in the Octagon was multiple Olympic alternate and UFC Hall of Famer Dan “The Beast” Severn. The facts of the matter are clear, Greco-Roman wrestling can

make a man out of you. “I believe that Olympic caliber Greco-Roman wrestlers have

an advantage in a lot of particular positions, but more important- ly, at the highest levels everything is a fight,” affirms Lindland. “You fight for points that don't come easy, you fight to make it on teams, you are fighting to medal at the tournaments. “You absolutely have to fight for every inch and the word used

is literally ‘pummel.’ These are some of the most mentally tough men I know.” So, wrestle your hardest this fall and winter in your folkstyle program. But when the weather starts to warm in the spring and summer, don’t wait! Get involved with Greco-Roman wrestling! It will change your wrestling/fighting career forever!

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