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!

shayna101 said...
Feb. 27, 2011 at 1:45 am
Usually, we only hear about girls and women with eating disorders, never men. This was informative and surprised me that guys would ever cut weight. This is well written and reminds us that its not only women who struggle with eating disorders, its guys too and this is a serious problem.
Clopsey said...
Feb. 5, 2011 at 10:51 pm
pretty much any sport in which weight is directly related to performance has an increased risk of eating disorders, especially ballet, gymnastics, horse-racing, running, skating, and wrestling.
ShelbyMarie93 said...
Jan. 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm
This is so true and so sad. Last week in school our wrestlers had a meet, and when the wrestling coach found out that one of the wrestlers was 2 pounds overweight, he started yelling at him in the hallways and mad him go do sprints instead of eating lunch. Later we found out he had threw up to make weight too. He's done that a lot...they all have. It's so sad.
JoPhiCrow replied...
Jun. 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm
That is messed up and the coach should be fired. Period. End of story. I've wrestled 8 years, and have yet to have a coach do that, and it's illegal too..
wrestle4lifeordie said...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 11:16 am
i am currently a 171 pounder cutting 11 pounds to be 160 for next week and I'm doing it safely and smartly if you know what you're doing, weight cutting isn't dangerous or bad. people need to do a little more research before they decide to jump on wrestlers about being unhealthy and starving themselves.
aksportsgirl replied...
Dec. 6, 2010 at 11:31 pm
I have a real quick question, umm how do you plan on losing that weight that fast safely cause ive tried about everything and i just cant seem to lose the weight i need in such little time without it becoming dangerous for me. so do you got any advice?
wrestle4lifeordie replied...
Dec. 10, 2010 at 10:18 am
right now im on a 1500 calorie diet but im expendiing about 4500 calories in a day because i work out a lot and am constantly on the move. my advice is to eat catabolic foods (you can find lists on the internet) and to keep your workouts regular. make sure to drink enough to stay hydrated but not so much that you get waterlogged. just remember that every 8oz. of liquid you drink is about 3/4 of a pound so stay hydrated just dont overdo it. also if youre taking any creatine or potassium supplimen... (more »)
aksportsgirl said...
Nov. 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm
I am a girl wrestler and i need to cut some weight before my season starts in a few weeks and if cutting weight is dangerous how am i suppose to lose the weight that i need to in such a little time??
MUSICisLIFE1429 said...
Oct. 20, 2010 at 5:55 pm
wow. i thought ballet was the only activity with a high eating disorder rate... man was i wrong.
LastChapter said...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm
when i think of people with eating disorders, i automatically think of unconfident young girls. this just goes to show that no one is immune to the public's way of making us want to change ourselves. 
Grandview41 replied...
Jan. 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm
We don't cut weight to fit in because that is what others want us to do. We cut weight to become the best wrestlers we can be. We cut weight to win.
LastChapter replied...
Jan. 25, 2011 at 7:51 pm
well, as long as its done safely, have fun being your skinny winning self;)
dancer109slashwriter said...
Oct. 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm
that was good, but no dialogue. people dont like stories that put you to sleep, but that keep you waiting to find out what happenes next. keep that in mind.
Wolf_Warriorz replied...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 10:45 pm
I don't think a story has to have dialogue to be good. What if it was naturalistic, with no people? This is a narrative, which usually don't have dialogue, so... Yup!
coravecwriter replied...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm
Just saying, this isn't really a story and it doesn't have to be. It's an essay, and most essays don't have- and don't need- dialogue.
imrighthereyouknow replied...
Feb. 27, 2011 at 8:41 am
Like coravecwriter said, this obviously isn't a story.
the_picnic_girl said...
Oct. 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm
Whoa, I was one of the only girl wrestlers at my school last year and heard of guys losing weight to be in an easier weight class, but I never would have thought of this. Very powerful.
The Situation said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 11:15 am
Good article that tells people about cutting weight and what it can do to your body.
itsmaddieeeee said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 10:20 am
This is very sad, but very touching. Loved it!
Challenger101 said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 9:32 am
Reminds me of my dad. He used to wrestle and tell me these crazy stories about his cutting weight, and ways to trick the scale. Nice aricle, drew me in with the first few sentances.
Site Feedback