West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on the Eccentricity of Champions

There is one characteristic that elevates true champions above others - "ECCENTRICITY!"

I can't speak for other champions, but during my competitive heyday, I did things that many would say was a bit "abnormal." Consider the following.

First of all, it must be understood that practices at my high school were very, very intense. (I guess that's why our mentor, Mal Paul, is still referred to as one of the greatest coaches in the annals of Pennsylvania schoolboy wrestling.) But my desire to excel didn't end at the close of daily workouts.

In the evening hours, I made it a point to run an extra five miles in leather street shoes. (There was no such thing as running footwear back then.) And when it snowed, I put galoshes over these same clogs and trudged through mounds of whiteness. Often during these treks, my scholastic acquaintances would drive past, smothering me with cute remarks and various cat calls. I just nodded congenially and kept on truckin'.

Moreover, I'd always finish my nightly stride-and-sprint work by the school's gymnasium. If there was something going on inside, I would head for the 30-foot rope and climb it twice, without stopping, without touching the floor, and without using my legs. If the facility was unoccupied and locked, I knew how to open the doors and then I climbed the rope in darkness. Once I even broke the door in my frenzy to make the climb. Dad wasn't too excited about paying that bill, and I paid dearly at home, but I still kept climbing - on the sly.

Finally, my older brother Floyd and I often practiced after practice on the blanket-covered living room floor. I'm glad Dad was overseeing us the evening I broke Mom's vase. He took the heat that night, as Floyd and I slithered into the bedroom to quietly lift weights. We pumped iron for muscle-endurance three days a week.

Yes, I was a little crazy in those days; some say I still am. But champions are eccentric, and Floyd and I wanted to join their ranks - we got our wish.

By the way, Dad still smiles when he glances at the vase he gallantly mended (or else) years ago, and so does Mom -- sometimes.

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Updated August 24, 1997