In the beginning, there was wrestling. Cave drawings purported to depict wrestling go back 15,000 years. Greco-Roman wrestling was introduced in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. And, I was introduced to the wrestling mats around 1967 or 1968 at the age of 3 or 4. You see, my father was a wrestler and a wrestling coach. My earliest memories include going to practice on a Saturday with my Dad, which often involved picking up or dropping off a few of his wrestlers on the way to or way home. I remember sitting on the bench and talking to the wrestlers after their matches.
After Dad retired from coaching in 1971, he wrestled with me and my friends and anyone else who wanted to wrestle at the Allentown YMCA. We also had countless wrestling matches in the living room, sometimes even recreating entire upcoming matches to “predict” the outcome. He was in the stands for every one of my junior high and high school matches. Most of the times, sitting right next to him were my Mom, sister and grandparents. After all, wrestling is a “family sport.”
After a series of injuries, caused me to “retire” from competing, our mutual love of the sport continued. We went to hundreds of high school and college matches together. Most of them were here right in the heart of wrestling – Lehigh Valley, PA. One of my favorite parts of going to a match with my Dad when I was younger was the anticipation of who we’d get to talk to after the match was over. Thanks to Dad’s friendships, I had the great privilege of meeting many of the coaches and wrestlers in this book. And for that I’m very grateful.
The wrestling community is a brotherhood and although the rivalries are fierce, the friendships formed during those early days were deep. Mutual respect and friendships endured for many years after many of these men were no longer sitting mat side but sitting in the stands. They watched their former wrestlers coach at all levels of the sport – establishing youth programs, coaching at junior and high school or even the college level.
Unfortunately, over the past few years, many of the early pioneers, including my Dad, who were responsible for the rise of wrestling in the Lehigh Valley have passed away. This website is dedicated to my Dad and to the coaches and the wrestlers of those early days who laid the groundwork for wrestling to be the great sport it has been and continues to be in the Lehigh Valley.