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Myths and Methods of Weight Cutting

Caroline Yenzer, Staff Writer

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Caroline Yenzer

Wrestling is a rather off-the-radar sport, failing to attract a student section or any significant attention at all, due to lack of knowledge and a common awkwardness when spotting a high school boy in an extremely tight singlet. But, the one feature of wrestling that people have at least heard of is weight cutting, due to its prominence and rarity. Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts are the only other sports that include weight classes and cutting. An athlete cuts weight in order to be eligible for a particular weight class. Period. It seems like a simple concept, but the real question is: How many people can actually distinguish between the facts and the fabrications of the practice?

What is Weight Cutting?

Weight cutting is the practice of fast weight loss prior to a match or tournament. There are two types of weight cutting: one method is to lose weight in the form of fat in the weeks prior to an event; the other is to lose weight in the form of water, or the lack there of, in the final days before competition.

Why Weight Cut?

In high school wrestling, there are a total of 14 weight classes. At the beginning of the season, an individual selects his desired weight class. If two people want the same weight class they wrestle-off for the spot. The idea behind wrestling in a group lighter than your present weight is to have the advantage of already being bigger than the other athletes in that class.

How Do Wrestlers Cut Weight?

Throughout the season, athletes practice eating and exercise habits most beneficial to their performance. But, since wrestler’s bodies are not acclimated to being the weight they are striving to be that season, they often find themselves overweight the days prior to a match or tournament. In these situations, extreme acts of weight loss are pursued.

“One time I put makeup remover all over my body to
keep the heat in, and slept in a trashbag, three hoodies, and a beanie to lose 10 pounds in one night,” Andrew Javier (11) said.
The Javier twins both wrestle on the LHS Varsity team. They take weight cutting really seriously. In fact, they got a sauna for Christmas for when they need to sweat off some weight in a short amount of time.

“I run with three hoodies on and sit in the sauna for two hours.” Dawson Javier (11) said.

What Does Coach Think?

It is rather obvious that weight cutting isn’t a healthy practice because rapid and abundant weight loss can be extremely dangerous. Here at LHS, the coaches are well aware of the hazardous routines and are fairly opposed to them.

“I think it’s a scar on the sport and I personally don’t like it at all” Ben Smith (Wrestling Head Coach) said.

In order to assure the safety of the wrestlers, the state of Missouri has passed laws that set up a weight index to determine how much weight an athlete can and cannot cut. Other states have laws in place that limit the allowed amount of weight to be lost in a week. Coaches must follow these rules to assure that their wrestlers remain in good health.

In addition, Coach Smith promotes other methods to cut weight and stay healthy.

“I would rather my wrestlers exercise and eat healthy because, to me, that’s not weight cutting, that’s just being healthy,” Coach Smith said.

Any coach is going to do what it takes to win. Coach Smith obviously recognizes that weight classes and weight cutting are a significant part of the sport, but his primary concern is the health of his athletes. Awareness is being brought to the issue with more involved coaches and legislative regulations. But, it is important to stay educated on the issue and obtain the ability to distinguish between the methods and the myths.

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