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Deaf Wrestling

Monday, April 6,
By Steve Rodriguez
2009 Deaf Wrestling

The topic I chose for my ASL research blog was inspired from my high school wrestling days. I grew up in Fremont, California and was on the Washington High School wrestling team for all four years. Our athletic league, MVAL, consisted of eight schools, one of them being the California School for the Deaf. Each year we would have to face CSD during the regular season and although they were never the most talented squad, neither were we so it made for some intense matches. When it was CSD's year to host the dual meets, it was definitely a much different atmosphere than what we were generally used to. I remember it being eerily quiet, which I always thought worked to the advantage of the Deaf wrestlers. In our gym, as with every other school, the ambiance was often very noisy and that is what we became accustomed to. I remember it being difficult to get "pumped up" before a match in a quiet atmosphere and it always seemed to throw us off of our game (no, that is not just an excuse). Nonetheless, the experience of competing on their campus and observing their culture was a unique experience. It was easy for us to imagine the students at CSD to be different than us because they were sort of isolated from the rest of the city's high school students when it came to social events and things of that nature. However, the Deaf students at CSD were just as stylish, spirited, and vibrant as any other teenager around town. In the short amount of time that I was able to observe the Deaf students, I was instantly fascinated by their culture and way of language. This is why I ultimately decided to pursue ASL as my foreign language requirement at Sac State instead of continuing with Spanish after high school.

One of the most popular MMA fighters in the industry right now is Matt Hamill. Most people remember him from the television show The Ultimate Fighter, which he ended up winning with dramatic TKO in the season three finale. Since then, Hamill has gone on to win some high profile fights and has certainly earned himself a name among the UFC elite. However, in high school I remember reading about Matt Hamill in magazines and on websites, years before his UFC fame, as an incredibly talented and successful Deaf wrestler.

Matt Hamill was a three-time NCAA Wrestling Division III National Champion while attending the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. In November 2007, Matt was inducted into the RIT Athletics Hall of Fame. Matt also participated in the Deaflympics in 1997 (Denmark) where he won both golds in greco-roman style and freestyle. Then in 2001 at Rome, Italy, Matt earned a silver in greco-roman style along with a gold medal in freestyle. "[Matt Hamill] is widely considered one of the most successful deaf athletes of his time and for good reason…. To deaf wrestlers across the country he is an icon, a reason to believe, and that is something he understands." (Bonagura) Hamill was born deaf and was encouraged to wrestle by his step father, the wrestling coach at the local high school. He continues to give back to the Deaf community by dedicating time and effort to various Deaf organizations. In fact, he has even put on wrestling camps for Deaf wrestler in my hometown at the California School for the Deaf. Keep an eye out for his biographical movie entitled "Hamill". For more info on that check this link

Sources Used:

Bonagura, Kyle. "UFC Wrestling Star Attends Deaf Tournament." Oakland Tribune 21 January 2007.

Deaf Wrestling
By Marchessa Descallar
April 6, 2009

During high school, my favorite sport was wrestling. I was on the wrestling team for a short time but ended up transferring to a school mid-semester that was lacking in the sports department. Even though I was no longer on a wrestling team, my passion for the sport did not wane. I regularly visited the team at my former high school and attended many of their home games. At first I could not think of any interesting topics to research in relation to the deaf community, but remembering that this was an old passion of mine, I finally decided to research the commonalities between the deaf community and wrestling.

Wrestling has been an affiliated sport with the Deaflympics since 1961, in which the team is called USA Deaf Wrestling Association and will also be participating in this year's Summer Deaflympics. There will be two different wrestling styles and seven different weight classes (USA Deaf Sports Federation, 2009). I have always known that wrestling in general has always been a male-dominated sport so I was not surprised to see that during this year's Deaflympics schedule there are two wrestling events occurring, both of which are all male participants (21st Summer Deaflympics Taipei, 2009). However, in the future, I hope to see more female participants in this sport.

Besides the Deaflympics, many deaf schools with wrestling teams participate in nationwide wrestling tournaments, such as the National Deaf Prep Duals Wrestling Tournament, which began in 2004 and has been held annually ever since (Model Secondary School for the Deaf, 2009). There is also the World Deaf Wrestling Championship, which is also held annually for deaf wrestling teams from all around the world (Armenian Sports Committee of the Deaf).

I also came across a truly inspiring article from the featuring a deaf and mute boy named Ramon Rodriguez from Reading, Pennsylvania who is on his high school's wrestling team. Along with an interpreter, to communicate with Ramon on the mat, teammates have used pad and pencil as well as learning some basic sign language. He has even inspired his whole team into learning how to sign the alphabet. At first, many teammates were skeptical about Ramon but after a few months they came to accept him, one fellow wrestler even stated "he's probably one of the most intense people on the team, and he's probably one of the hardest workers on the team." Ramon has enjoyed his experience with the wrestling team so much that he is considering joining the boys' volleyball team and even football team (Rippey, 2009). I found this article to be inspiring because it illustrates that a little patience and understanding goes a long way. Not only has Ramon set an encouraging example for his team, he has taught them the significance of patience and understanding. His team has also encouraged Ramon to try other team sports by accepting and supporting him. He sets a great example to everyone and sends out the message that you can do anything you put your mind to, despite any disability or obstacle.


(2009). 21st Summer Deaflympics Taipei 2009. Taiepei Organizing Committee of the 21st Summer Deaflympics. Retrieved 30, March 2009: []

(2009). Armenian Sports Committee of the Deaf. Retrieved 30, March 2009: []

(2009). National Deaf Prep Duals Wrestling Tournament. Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, Gallaudet University. Retrieved 30, March 2009. []

(2009). USA Deaf Sports Federation. USA Deaf Sports Federation Inc. Retrieved 30, March 2009: []

Rippey, Brian (2009, Jan. 18). Deaf Reading wrestler teaches teammates about communication, tolerance, understanding. Reading Eagle Newspaper Online. Reading Eagle Press. Retrieved 30, March 2009: []


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