How we got started

This article published on was the spark that sent us into action: 



Wrestling: What the Sport Means to Me

Competing in the sport of wrestling has virtually defined my life.  At the age of seven, when I began wrestling, I enjoyed the excitement and competition of the sport and the quality time that it afforded for me to interact with my six brothers – who all wrestled also.  However, then I did not understand the many, possible benefits of wrestling and certainly not its positive, life-altering potential.  For me wrestling has become more than simply another sport of fun and wins and losses, as it was when I began competing. Rather, it has become a lifestyle filled with endless opportunities, crucial life lessons and life-changing experiences.

Growing up in a city plagued with gang violence and troubled with a failing school system, I soon understood that wrestling would provide me the opportunity to overcome many obstacles of my negative environment.  The sport became a safe haven in which I could comfortably and even enjoyably reside. As some of my friends turned to gangs, drugs, and other wayward activities, I stuck to wrestling.  I discovered that not only would the sport provide safety in a dangerous city,but athletic success would provide me desirous opportunities if I continued to hard work.  Some of these opportunities I could not have anticipated, for example – traveling.  I had the opportunities to wrestle in California and in Puerto Rico – what re-enforcement that hard work pays off!  Indeed, from my hard work cherished opportunities ensued.

Traveling to compete in wrestling competitions, I have created fond memories with my family and friends.  One of the most memorable moments in my wrestling career did not include my wrestling.  This memorable moment involves my brother wrestling in the state finals.  I sat watching helplessly as my brother, Canaan Bethea, lost 8-3 in the New Jersey State finals.  I will never forget the  ain – the agony – that I felt when I walked into the locker room and saw my brother lying on the floor, in tears.  The look on his face and the aching pain revealed in his eyes left me speechless!  Canaan and I had vowed to motivate, inspire and push, each other to work hard to reach our dreams and goals of becoming New
Jersey State Wrestling Champions. Although he had worked so hard and had come so close to his goal of being state champion, still he had failed!

My poignant experience of watching my brother lose in the state finals not only motivated me to work even more diligently, but it more significantly helped me to understand that genuinely accepting defeat is an indispensable adaptation of being successful in life.  Canaan’s ability to rebound from his loss the next day, and head to school amazed me! He managed somehow to accept that he would never be able to accomplish
his goal of being a state champion, and Canaan moved on to work   towards other goals.  Canaan’s acceptance of his failure to reach his goal and his quickly regained resolve to pursue other goals, including wrestling ones, would later instill me the reality that it is impossible to live life without obstacles, trials, and even failures, and the necessity that I must accept my victories and defeats in life with dignity and integrity.

Indeed, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.  As I pursue my goal of winning a state championship, I am reminded from my empathetic experience of Canaan’s wrestling defeat, that I will face obstacles and trials.  However through his inspiring life-victory of accepting defeat, I vicariously learned to no longer fear failure!Rather, I learned to challenge myself to overcome my trials and obstacles to become successful. My cherished and transforming life lesson, learned in such a painful manner at a wrestling tournament, will resonate with me and inspire me forever! From wrestling I learned the transforming lesson that as in one’s match a wrestler must sometimes physically reset to conquer,in life to succeed one must accept, resolve and reset!

joe butlerComment