Actor/comedian Jay Mohr has a daily radio show on Fox Sports Radio which I catch off-and-on throughout the day and download at night. On my way to the barber (yes, gents, a BARBER, not a stylist) yesterday, I caught a few minutes of the opening of his show yesterday and was blown away by his enthusiasm towards the subject of the IOC removing wrestling from the Olympics in 2020. Regardless of your thoughts on the matter one way or another, it was fascinating to listen to. I couldn’t find any clips of it up, so I listened to show again and transcribed it. Here it is, in its (mostly) entirety.
“This is horrible. This is why I have this job, ‘cuz for a moment like this for me to explain to you guys how important of a sport this is. I am a wrestler, it’s in our DNA. When you sweat, when you grind it out in those wrestling rooms, when you get pinned, when you get choked; now you guys save your tweets. ‘yeah, wrestling, big deal, it’s kinda fruity, two guys in unitards, ya know, laying on top of each other, they got their packages in each other’s ears’. I know the knock on wrestling. I know it. But I can tell you, as a guy who was an absolute disaster until the age of twelve, I can tell you firsthand that this is a far-more important sport on a personal level to the individual than any sport there is.
No other sport teaches young men and now young women discipline, self-reliance, fitness, nutrition, the true meaning of ‘you’re only hurting yourself’. That never happens in any other sport more than it does in wrestling. When that coach turns his head in football practice and you stop doing pushups? That’s alright. Somebody’s still going to block for you. You’re still gonna break one off. You’re still gonna catch a guy coming through the hole and tackle him. That’s the thing about wrestling, nobody blocks for you. Nobody passes you anything. There’s no alley-oops. There’s no assists. It’s guy-on-guy. It’s a guy wrestling another guy.
And here’s what people get lost in their minds about wrestling, because when I talk to kids about wrestling and I talk to them a lot, my dream, actually, because if I wasn’t doing this for a living, I would love to be a wrestling coach, to teach young men wrestling, to me, would be another dream job. Because I can’t emphasize to you enough how IMPORTANT this is, and it’s getting cancelled by the IOC and THEY’RE KEEPING IN FRIGGIN PING-PONG AND PENTATHALON! WHAT THE HECK IS A PENTATHALON? Why isn’t wrestling a bigger deal? Because it doesn’t make money? Why not put VISA on everyone’s ass on their singlets? ‘Alright, this fireman’s carry brought to you by Sherrie’s Berries!’
I never understood why wrestling wasn’t more prominently showcased on television. You watch race after race after race after race. If I watch you run 100 meters, why do I have to watch you run 400 meters, then why do I have to watch you run 1,100 meters? You’re running! You’re running in a straight line and you’re running in a circle. Then you have swimming. Swimming is not a sport. As George Carlin once famously said, swimming is a way to keep from drowning. But swimming stays in and wrestling is out. I gotta tell you guys, this is a disaster. You have to understand how far this reaches.
Take wrestling out of the Olympics, you’re effectively stripping it from college and high school. There is no ‘pro’. There is no payoff for wrestlers. That’s what separates a wrestler from the pack. That’s why wrestlers have a chip on their shoulders, that’s why wrestlers don’t have friends. That’s why they’re spitting in cups trying to cut weight. Because they’re doing work. I remember my wrestling coach, Jim Sauer, used to say ‘boys play basketball, men wrestle’, and he always used to say ‘basketball is a game, football is a game, what we’re doing here is life’, and I never understood what he meant because I was always too busy trying to get out of those pushups, and what he meant was when you’re a wrestler, you’re the only guy at that school that did something so extraordinary, like a boxer who gets up when it’s still dark to do his roadwork, you have to do that when you wrestle as well.
You try to get your fifteen-year-old son to clean his room. You try to do that. Now I want you to get that same kid and tell him he can only eat chicken breasts and spinach, and every once in a while gorge himself on some fruit, and get up when it’s dark out and run five miles BEFORE school, and then when he’s at school, he’s going to stay at school and go to a wrestling room and grind it out. It’s an amazing sport. It’s the purest sport. It’s the solo, solo sport. It’s a monastic life, the life of a wrestler. Running alone, working alone, working with a team certainly, but working within that team structure, you are crushing it every single day. You are testing yourself, and when you get uncomfortable, you get exhausted, that’s when you gotta push through. That’s when you gotta push through, ‘this is where I got tired last time, I gotta push through’.
It is life itself. When you are in a wrestling room and you are exhausted, and you feel like you’re going to throw up, there’s still a guy trying to take your legs out! And I got news for you, America! We live in a world, if you go to a job, someone is trying to take your legs out. It’s the most indicative sport to what you go through on a daily basis. Every day, as a grown man, I measure myself. How do you measure yourself? By what stick do you measure yourself? No one has any idea. ‘Am I nice? Am I a good guy?’. Wrestling is the only sport that really gets the core of the man, and the IOC is going to take it from you.
And let me tell you something. There is no pro. The reason you wrestle in high school is to get a scholarship to wrestle in college, and the reason you want to be great in college is for your, quote, ‘pay day’, and by ‘pay day’, I mean you get, like, a tote bag and free airfare to Iran. That’s the payoff: Olympic gold. It’s a sport where there is never money involved. We talk all day on this show about guaranteed contracts, we talk about how the unions are ruining the sports, Billy Hunter just got shown the door, hockey just went on strike or had a lockout, however you want to put it, what Commissioner Bettman is doing, you want to know what wrestlers are doing while all that is happening? Working. Working harder than you and I ever know what work is. I remember on career day when the Marine recruiter would come to high school and tell us horror stories about basic training, the wrestlers sat in the back of the room LAUGHING! Because we knew he couldn’t make it in wrestling practice, and we COULD make it in Marine boot camp because we were wrestlers.
We were degenerates, we were bad kids, but because we got in a wrestling room and a guy taught us a bunch of takedowns and ways to defend ourselves, we had purpose. We had direction. We had focus, which became uber-focus, which became hyper-focus. Right now, I am a 42-year-old man and I can honestly tell you, wrestling, aside from meeting my wife, is the single greatest, most important thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life. I guarantee you that without wrestling, I’m doing this show in a jail cell, if Premiere was nice enough to give a guy in a jail cell a radio show.
Everybody wants to take karate, everybody wants to do the sexy thing, they wanna fight, they wanna box, they wanna krav maga, they wanna throw. Every fight winds up on the ground between two cars in a parking lot, wrestler wins. The wrestlers are separate. To remove this from the Olympics is so abhorrent, and make such zero sense. Look at the phones, Olympic wrestler, Olympic wrestler, Olympic wrestler. We have three Olympic wrestlers calling in.
We’re going to talk Lakers, we’re going to talk pitchers and catchers reporting, but I’m your guy for this. If I can’t get this point across having this radio show, then I’m the wrong guy for the job. This is one of the darkest days. This is worse than McGwire and Sosa testing positive for steroids and breaking all the home run records, this is worse than Lance Armstrong doping, these are guys who DON’T dope! These are guys that treat their body like a temple because they’re always taught to treat your body that way. These are the guys that do it.
These are the guys that are in it for one reason and one reason only; to get their hand raised in front of 14 parents in Boonton, New Jersey when it’s freezing cold outside. Don’t. Let. This. Happen. Tweet, retweet, call the IOC, tell them, save Olympic wrestling. We got guys out there who are so exceptional at what they do, and you’re going to take this from them, but you’re going to keep ping-pong. You’re going to keep fencing. That’s completely normal, what are we playing? Joust? You can not take wrestling from us. As a country, as a world, this is the FIRST Olympic event. I weigh 140 pounds, you weigh 140 pounds, we know the same moves, we trained the most. But who trained the most when nobody was looking? THAT’s the guy that’s going to squeeze out a 3-2 win.
Don’t take that.”
If you liked this article, you may also be interested in:
Why Wrestling is More Than A Sport, It’s a Martial Art by Connor Dillon
Good Guy Gray by Marta Gallo