West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Wrestling with Injuries

"When Tom King faced (boxed) the Gouger...he knew that the Gouger's jaw was only four months healed after having been broken in a Newcastle bout. And he had aimed for that jaw and broken it again in the ninth round. He had done it, not because he hated the Gouger, but because that was the surest way to put the Gouger out and win the big end of the purse. Nor had the Gouger borne him any ill will for it. It was the game, and both knew the game and played it."
from "A Piece of Steak"
by Jack London

I have had numerous debates over the last few years regarding an athlete attacking his opponent's weakest point or injured area. Now here's where I may lose some more friends, but I have to state what I feel in my heart. I don't think there is anything wrong with keying in on your opponent's weakest point in wrestling. Let me explain myself.

As an athlete, I had my share of injuries during those years of competitive wrestling: stubbed fingers and a jammed thumb, bruised ribs, a sprained ankle, a bad knee, a nose that bled profusely, and an arm with recently-removed stitches. Did my opponents prey upon these weaknesses when they wrestled me? Without question!

How did I feel about this? Before I answer the question, let me tell you about my background. My mother taught me about God and love, and my dad taught me about honesty and the reality of life in this world. What a combination! So, how did I feel about my adversaries working on my physical problem areas? I knew they had every right to do so when I decided to step out on the mat to confront them. They did nothing illegal; they just attacked my weak points. But would I have done the same? In a heartbeat! That's a fact of life every athlete accepts when they are willing to compete with a physical ailment.

In closing, some of my readers may think I have no compassion. So be it. But before you totally condemn me, consider the defensive tackler who blind sides a wide receiver in the air as he makes a great catch, a baseball runner who crushes the sitting-duck catcher at home plate, or the hockey player who receives a five-minute penalty for fighting--an act that would eliminate a participant from further competition in the very physical sport of wrestling. Now, what do you think?

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Updated December 15, 1997