Cutting Weight This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

His heart races to the sound of the clock ticking in the background. Twenty more seconds and he has this match won. All he needs to do is hold on. His opponent meets his eyes with a look of defeat. Thump, thump … 15 … 14 … the clock ticks down the final seconds. The wrestler thinks of the final 40 minutes he ran to shed that extra half pound. A match easily won. Then he’s thrust into the air and, dumbfounded, he finds himself on the mat. The ­referee pounds his hand on the ground and he’s down for the count in a ­moment of weakness. The defeated wrestler watches his opponent raise his arm with the grin of a champion.

Wrestling requires blood, sweat, and tears, in addition to dedication and pure passion. As many wrestlers know, the preceeding story is more than a haunting tale: it’s a fear that fuels their drive to put more effort into becoming the best. Many wrestlers go to extremes to become champions, and they are recognized for their ability to drastically lose weight, known as “cutting.” Many of these pound-dropping skills aren’t just dangerous but also can be fatal, which is why wrestlers should not cut weight in the first place.

With 81 percent of wrestlers cutting weight, there are many unique methods to achieve the task. Some are ridiculous – myths of athletes shedding as many as 20 pounds in one night have been passed around the wrestling community. Wrestlers will go days drinking only a few sips of water and eating just a piece of fruit each day. Ultimately, the calories they burn during practice will be more than they’ve consumed in two days.

Not eating for that long takes a toll on the body. Wrestlers dream of food, yet many won’t eat for fear that they’ll exceed the limit of their weight class. Consequently, they account for three-quarters of male athletes with eating disorders. Eating disorders claim 300,000 lives a year. Weight cutting can lead to death.

In 1997, three college wrestlers made national headlines, dying within 33 days of each other. Coming from Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, these dedicated athletes died from the same cause: weight cutting. In all three cases, the students experienced dehydration resulting in hypothermia after they layered on clothes and did endless workouts in heated rooms. Unfortunately, they out-worked their bodies. The perspiration they produced cooled them to the point of hypothermia resulting in heart attacks and kidney failure, all common effects of extreme weight cutting.

Following these deaths, the NCAA took steps to make wrestling safer by banning cutting techniques such as training in a room hotter than 80 ­degrees, self-induced vomiting, and extensive food or fluid restrictions. Following the actions of the NCAA, even high schools have taken precautions. The NCAA requires wrestlers to take hydration tests, checks their body fat, and restricts the amount of weight they can lose. But it’s not enough; ­unscrupulous coaches will turn their heads, and some wrestlers will overlook the rules, risking their lives for their favorite sport.

Wrestlers push themselves to the limit to make weight. These athletes seek to make themselves the biggest competitor in the smallest weight class possible. This goal taunts wrestlers to cut more and more. ­Although rules have been enforced, if wrestlers are going to be protected, officials need to banish weight cutting altogether.

Risking so much for such short-lived glory is absurd. Cutting weight is unhealthy and can lead to serious complications. Athletes must be more aware of these dangers – and listen to their bodies.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 125 comments. Post your own now!

krautJrr512 said...
Oct. 20, 2014 at 11:23 am
i agree who ever wrote this we do take many riskes but all of these people are wrestlers and we do this and we love what we do we wrestlers arnt stupid we wont take that high of riskes   
sticktocuttingweight said...
Jan. 14, 2013 at 11:35 am
whoever the person that wrote this obviosly doesnt know anything about cutting weight.
nwrestler113 said...
Sept. 28, 2012 at 10:44 am
Whats the best way for me to cut down to 113 from 129 pounds in the next 3 weeks and be able to maintain it until jan 2013 until we get a 2 pounds allowence... can anyone help me with any ideas?
Claire_baller replied...
Apr. 25, 2013 at 11:24 am
run for at least two to three miles a day and try to keep a steady pace of 6mph. Streach for 30 to 45 minutes it acctually burns a lot of calories. Get your friends to go with you. It's waaaaay more fun that way and you can push eachother. Listen to music too it gets your modivation on!
lose weight said...
Jul. 25, 2012 at 7:37 am
as long as its done safely, that was good
Brooke M. said...
Apr. 17, 2012 at 10:43 pm
I'm not really a wrestling fan... but i clicked on this because i live in Loma too! Good articlel though! :)
Know2Win said...
Mar. 18, 2012 at 11:46 am
It's all about setting your goal early and making progress little by little to get there. It's like trying to cram the night before a big final exam, doesn't work out well if you just opened the book the night before the test. Same thing applies to cutting weight and practicing to "pass the test" in wreslting. Before the season started I set my goal for the state finals match at 135lbs, a had a plan on how to get there and most importantly how to stay heathy enough to win. Pre-season starting we... (more »)
jswider1 said...
Jan. 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm
I am a sophmore in high school. My average weight is 115 my minimum weight is 105. The weight class i have to get to is 106. I made it once by starving, and dehydration, I came so close to passing out. I won my tournament ,but threw up after each match. I'm actually stuck I am terrified I don't want to get yelled at by my pig-headed coach. I don't think i can make it again. Like I said I was able to stay at 110 for a while now ,but on Saturday we have another meet. I am really scared ,because my... (more »)
nmsatc replied...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm
Do you have an Athletic Trainer at your school? Maybe you can talk with the ATC and they, in turn, can speak to the coach. I work as an Athletic Trainer at a high school and am an advocate for my athletes. I have no problem standing up to my "pigheaded" coaches. I have had too many of my wrestlers be carted off in ambulances as a result of cutting weight. It is frightening to read the comments that state short term cutting weight is not an issue or a big deal. IF you do this constantly ev... (more »)
Kid14 replied...
Dec. 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm
brah its not that hard eat small postions of food and hydrate with water  
Lace21311 said...
Dec. 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm
What really bothers me the most about this article is near the end when the author says that doing something as extreme as cutting weight for short lived glory is absurd. I'm a weightlifter, a cross country and track runner, and a tennis player. I also cut weight. I don't cut weight for "short lived glory" I cut so that I can be the best that I can be. I want to make the most out of myself in these sports that I can. I think that cutting weight can show dedication, this isn't just something that... (more »)
lil 70 said...
Dec. 7, 2011 at 9:34 am
all you have to do is work hard you dont have to cut weight. i cut weight for 13 years and its my senior year now and i wrestle 10xs better not cutting weight you just have to work hard.
Saints126 said...
Dec. 5, 2011 at 12:12 am
I went from 156 to 125 last year in 2 weeks. i hated it but i didnt die or suffer any fatal consequnces. even if you are cutting the "wrong way" you can still do it without dying or harming yourself. i went from winning only 2 maches in 10th grade to winning about 25. if you love the sport and want to be good you almost have to cut unless you are insanely stronger than everyone else at your natural weight
170 stud said...
Dec. 2, 2011 at 10:45 am
i agree with this guy i came from 200 to 170 im kicking butt right and left this was a good artical but its all about want to
189lbpitbull said...
Nov. 10, 2011 at 9:29 am
Wrestling in High-School is a serious time for athletes. We do what we have to, whether it be jumping rope in a dry-sauna or puking our brains out the morning of a tournament. You do what you have to do to win. Sacrifice+Hardwork=Dedication. Everyone knows, dedication=championships.
wenttojrobcamp said...
Nov. 2, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Ok, the stats are off like people have written - 300,000 deaths a year are not caused by weight cutting - lets make that clear.

Cutting weight is really the control you have over the people that you wrestle. Body fat % has a lot to do with it, since a person that weighs the same as you (say 130) could be five inches shorter and much stronger with less body fat. By lowering your body fat and getting to your lowest possible percentage (7% in high school, 5% in college) you stand the best... (more »)

AlaskanWolf said...
Oct. 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm
This article is a travesty to writing in the younger generation. I sincerely hope that this was not written by a high school student.
Liv297 replied...
Nov. 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm

excuse me but i thought this article was very well written. everyone is entitled to their own opinions, you dont need to be harsh about it though 


Project said...
Oct. 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm
Please Comment because we need as much information as posible thank you :))
OKwrestler said...
Oct. 7, 2011 at 10:17 am
I wrestle in high school and they make us take a hydration and weight test. The OSSA has made rules to prevent cutting weight from being unhealthy.
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