Weight Classes | Teen Ink

Weight Classes

April 16, 2008
By Anonymous

His heart races to the sound of the clock clicking in the background. 20 seconds to go and he has this match won, all he has to do is hold out until the end. His opponent looks him square in the eye with a look of defeat. Thump thump... 15-14… the clock beats down to its final seconds. The wrestler thinks soundlessly to himself of the last 40 minutes he ran to shed that extra half pound, for this? A weak match easily won. Then it hit him, he’s thrusted into the air and dumbfounded, he finds himself on the mat, motionless. The referee pounds his hand on the ground, down for the count in a moment of weakness. The defeated wrestler lies on the mat, watching as that once weak opponent raises his arm up with a grin of a champion.

Blood, sweat, and tears, wrestling takes much more than that, it takes dedication and pure passion. As many wrestlers know, the story above proves to be more than a haunting reality; it’s a fearful drive to put more effort into becoming the best. Many wrestlers seem to go further than extremes to become a champion; therefore they are recognized for their weight cutting techniques. Many of these pound dropping skills are much more than dangerous, they can be fatal, which is why wrestlers should not cut weight in the first place. Surprisingly

With 81% of wrestlers cutting weight, there are many unique ideas of how to achieve this somewhat impossible task of losing weight. Some of these techniques are ridiculous, and myths have been passed around the community of wrestlers. Some tell tales of crazy athletes shedding as many as 20 pounds in a night. Wrestlers will go days without drinking more than a few sips of water and eating a piece of fruit a day. Ultimately, the calories burned during practice will be more than they’ve eaten in two days. Not eating for that long can take its toll on the body. Wrestlers dream of food, yet they can’t eat for fear that they’ll be over by just a couple pounds. Consequently, ¾ of male athletes with eating disorders are wrestlers. Anorexia and bulimia, leading eating disorders, claim 300,000 lives a year ("Could You or Someone You Care About Have an Eating Disorder?") meaning that weight cutting can lead to other harmful things other than disease. It also leads to death.
In the late 1990s’ three college wrestlers made headlines around the nation after each died within 33 days of each other. Coming from Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, these dedicated athletes died from the same cause, drastic weight loss, or also known to those familiar to it as “cutting”. In all three cases, the deaths were related to dehydration resulting in hypo-thermia. The wrestlers layered on clothes and put themselves in high temperature rooms while they did endless workouts. Unfortunately they out worked their bodies. The athletes tried to sweat out the pounds and with the amount of perspiration they were producing, their bodies constantly cooled until they reached a degree below their core temperatures relating to hypothermia. This also caused heart attacks and kidney failure, all consequences of extreme weight cutting. Upon hearing of these horrible stories, NCAA took steps to make weight cutting healthier by banning certain cutting techniques such as;

Saunas, Hot Rooms, and any room hotter than 79 degrees

Self induced vomiting

Extensive food and fluid restrictions (Diehl)
Following the actions of the NCAA, even high schools have made precautions. These NCAA officials have gone as far as making their wrestlers take hydration tests, checking their body fat, and also giving restrictions to how much weight they can lose. But it’s just not enough; coaches will turn their heads, and the most dedicated wrestlers will over look these rules; still risking their lives for their favorite sport.
Wrestlers all around the nation push themselves to the limit to make weight, and these athletes have to cut enough to make them the biggest person in the smallest weight class possible. This goal of being the biggest small wrestler is taunting the athletes to cut more and more to become champions. Although rules have been enforced, if wrestlers are going to be protected, they should just banish weight cutting altogether to keep these athletes safe and healthy.

Risking so much for such a short lived glory is absurd. Wrestlers need to open their eyes and see what the truth is. Cutting weight is unhealthy and in the long run, can lead to more serious complications. Athletes who choose to be a part of this growing craze of cutting weight must look into the dangers of it and listen to their bodies. If need be go up a weight class, but ultimately, wrestlers shouldn’t cut weight.

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