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What You Don't Know About Being A Female Wrestler

Jamie Squire / Staff

We don’t all look like what you think.

There are 10 different weight classes in Women's Wrestling, which means wrestling encompases SO. MANY. DIFFERENT. body types. Our weight classes range from 110 pounds to 167 pounds, which allows for different sizes, heights, and shapes. Trying to stereotype a female wrestler’s body as only short and stocky will only give you a narrow view of our sport. Wrestling is one of the few sports where you use your body type as a way to get the advantage over your opponent. Tall wrestle short, skinny wrestle stocky. As long as they are the same weight, you must learn how to wrestle whatever your opponent looks like.

Stereotyping a female wrestler’s body as short & stocky will only give you a narrow view

Women’s wrestling has been around for a long time. 

Image source: Al Bello / Staff

It may seem like a new phenomenon in the U.S., but women have been competing in wrestling internationally since 1989. Women's Wrestling has been an Olympic sport since 2004. Today, over 15,000 high school girls compete for their school. Many then go on to compete for one of the 40+ collegiate programs in the U.S. or Canada, and internationally representing the U.S. Our senior national team is comprised of the top 3 women in the country in 10 different weight classes, who travel and train as their full time jobs.

Girls do beat boys, and it's not surprising why.

Every senior-level female wrestler has been told by someone about the ONE girl they had on their team who beat ALL the boys. This is not unusual. Because the majority of girls who would like to compete in wrestling have no other choice but to compete against the boys on their high school or middle school teams, this is a common story within the wrestling community. Females are fantastic competitors, and when they have plans to compete in college and possibly to try out for World and Olympic teams, they will certainly be successful within the arena of competing against the opposite gender.

Girls do beat boys, and it's not surprising why.

We actually want same gender competition nationally.

The best way to grow the sport of girls wrestling is to include a division where girls can compete against their own gender. Just because a girl CAN be successful against the boys, does not mean that the sport will grow to its potential by limiting competition. There are many obstacles girls must face in order to often be accepted onto an all boys team. These kinds of roadblocks prevent many girls from joining the sport and competing against other females just like any other high school sport.

We are literally still fighting the good fight.

The U.S. only has 6 states which have sanctioned girls wrestling in high school. We are still met with resistance when encouraging schools to start a girls team or to include a girls division at a wrestling tournament. Girls across the U.S. are excited to wrestle and compete, but if they can only wrestle on a boys team or a coach is resistant to allowing them on the team, those barriers often prevent the sport from growing in certain communities. However, not only are we working on increasing the number of states that will sanction girls wrestling in high school, but we have also submitted a bid for NCAA emerging sport status.

It has nothing to do with professional wrestling on TV.

Some of us may have found wrestling because we watched it on TV as kids, but the similarities stop there. The top female wrestlers in the U.S. are professional athletes who must focus on nutrition, weight management, strength and conditioning, and years of intense wrestling technique. The drama and the show stays home. Oh, and there's definitely no mud and no jello either. #sorrynotsorry

And there's definitely no mud and no jello either. #sorrynotsorry

We also get cauliflower ear.

Cauliflower ear is when the cartilage in your ear breaks due to impact. And it isn't immune to gender.

Team USA brought home gold from the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Helen Maroulis wins gold in Rio

Image source: Julian Finney / Staff

Team USA has been one of the top teams due to the focused efforts of growing the sport and increasing funding and resources. Actually, the U.S. has placed as a team in the top 3 for the past 5 years, and we had our first U.S. Olympic Champion, Helen Maroulis, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. We are using that momentum to propel and promote the sport for females!

Muscle size does not equal success.

Being a successful female wrestler has nothing to do with our muscle size and everything to do with years of intense focus on technique. The bigger and bulkier you are, the harder it can be to have fluid motion and flexibility. Wrestling requires intense amounts of agility, so don't be surprised that we don’t look like bodybuilders!

Wrestling requires intense amounts of agility, so we don’t look like bodybuilders!

It’s totally annoying when you ask us if we can take down our significant other and/ or you.

Do you ask a professional runner if they can run faster than you? For our senior level competitors, it is our full time job, and we are the top in the world. You can be fairly certain that if you’ve never wrestled or even wrestled a little, you will have no reference to the skill level of technique we have! (In other words, the answer is a simple, Yes.) But just because we are females, it doesn’t mean you need to sexualize our sport for a good laugh.