West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Weight Reduction

Is weight reduction a must in wrestling?
Personally, I am no longer convinced it is. After years of contemplating this problem (as a wrestler, coach and parent), I now have come to the conclusion that dieting is not a necessary element for championship performances in wrestling.

Note, the Russians are considered to have some of the greatest wrestlers in the world. However, their philosophy on conditioning contradicts our American approach to dieting. They believe that grapplers should build up to a weight class via training hard, "pumping the iron," and eating good foods heartily.

Don't get me wrong; I would be the last person found cheering for the Russians while in attendance at the World Cup competition. Still, if a method is successful, it must have some merit. Furthermore, by utilizing this approach, the wrestlers' minds would be entirely on perfecting their moves, and not be distracted by losing weight. And let's face it, the matman who is losing weight tends to lose enthusiasm at practice when he is close to making weight. Hence, with the Russian strategy, there could no longer be any "I'm dieting" excuses given for sluggishness during daily workouts.

To be totally honest, I am not talking from a high horse. As a wrestler, I dieted. Throughout my coaching tenure, I had wrestlers who lost weight. Why--because all of us veterans in the sport were indoctrinated to believe that losing weight was a way of life in the mat sport. Maybe this doctrine is not totally accurate.

In truth, weight reduction is the one aspect of our sterling sport that is constantly under scrutiny. The above thoughts offer an alternative to this dilemma. Shouldn't we at least give it some thought?

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Updated October 7, 1998