The worst thing a person could say about professional wrestling is that “professional wrestlers are not real athletes.” Today’s pro wrestlers are some of the most highly trained athletes in the world. Their bodies are finely-tuned and well-defined. Many of the wrestlers come from athletic backgrounds ranging from Olympic wrestling to collegiate football. They possess strength, conditioning, and, most importantly, they put their bodies on the line every time they step into a wrestling ring.
Like every other amateur sport, including basketball, football, and baseball, wrestling has a professional level of competition. However, unlike other amateur sports, wrestling’s profession is widely known as a complete fake. The outcome of a matchup between two wrestlers is always decided before the match takes place. Although viewers on television and spectators at live events have no idea who is going to win or what will occur during a match, it is certain that scriptwriters behind the scenes have already decided weeks in advance who the winner will be. Because of this, many people oppose professional wrestling and its soap opera-like qualities. They say it doesn’t involve legitimate competitive action.
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This male soap opera façade and lack of true competition, however, should not take away from the athleticism of the wrestlers involved. Take wrestlers, Kurt Angle and Dwayne Johnson, for example. No one can refute their superior athletic ability. Kurt Angle was the first American ever to win a gold medal in Greco Roman wrestling at the 220-pound weight class during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. “The Rock”) gained All-American status as a defensive end for the University of Miami football program. They continue their careers by competing in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). They entertain the audience with all sorts of moves including the Olympic Slam, the Ankle-Lock Submission, the Rock Bottom, and the People’s Elbow. Although these moves are controlled so no one gets seriously hurt, sometimes accidents do occur.
Wrestlers are constantly putting their bodies on the line. It’s not easy to perform high-risk moves (i.e., jumping off the turnbuckle) and come away unscathed. One match alone can last anywhere from ten seconds to one hour. During that match, a wrestler is required to lift his 200-plus pound opponent several times, run across the ring, jump off turnbuckles (the four posts at each corner of the wrestling ring which hold up three different sets of ropes), and receive several shots to the body which actually cause pain. If any of these actions are not performed properly or on time, wrestlers may become injured and/or look like fools.
Professional wrestler wannabes on the TV reality show Tough Enough, found this out the hard way. Tough Enough was a show in which thirteen prospective wrestlers were chosen from a group of 4000 possible candidates, trained by experienced WWF wrestlers, and given an opportunity to win an official WWF contract. Throughout the show, contestants were either cut by the trainers or left the show for personal reasons. Of the thirteen wrestlers, two could not continue the show due to injuries, and four more sustained minor ones which kept them out of competition for a couple of days. They thought professional wrestling would be an easy job but found out injuries, conditioning, and not being able to see their families for weeks or months at a time made the profession extremely difficult.
To me, an athlete must possess strength, conditioning, and a willingness to push his/her body to its maximum potential. Professional wrestlers carry these attributes with them every day of their careers. Although their profession is often labelled as a joke because of its lack of true competition, I honestly value their athletic ability for what it truly is, awesome.
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