Cutting Weight MAG

By Saige Redd, Loma, CO

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.

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This article has 125 comments.

on Jul. 22 2010 at 2:04 pm
deus-ex-machina14 BRONZE, Stewartsville, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 439 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are two main tragedies in life. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." -Oscar Wilde

I don't want to offend anyone because I don't do wrestling and am not very athletic, but I think sports and things like that are meant to be for fun. I think when they escalate to starving yourself and losing a lot of weight, it's loses it's meaning entirely. Just my opinion. Very well written, by the way haha!!

CDR Grimes said...
on Jul. 17 2010 at 8:04 am
Cutting weight is dangerous.  Cutting fat is not.  I condition wrestlers and soccer players at the local high school.  Rather than cutting weight with extreme measures at the last minute we focus on long term, sustained cutting of fat through circuit training.  We want the leanest, strongest athlete possible.  For a wrestler, all fat does is put them in the next higher weight class.

Galatea BRONZE said...
on Jul. 1 2010 at 8:01 pm
Galatea BRONZE, Falls Church, Virginia
1 article 2 photos 4 comments


Ink Dance: That is an excellent observation. I also run track, and I know how hard I train, along with my team mates. While I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with wanting to put yourself in the best possible position to win a race (or match), as that is what practice is for, justification depends upon the means. Weight cutting is dangerous, and no person should have to or want to subject themselves to such pain in order to win a match. Why not try and win something despite your size? That seems like a greater achievement.  

on Jun. 27 2010 at 12:07 pm
InkDance PLATINUM, Sylvania, Ohio
31 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
The only difference between highschoolers and preschoolers is that preschoolers get naptime.

There is actually a reason for weight limits- its to prevent some 300lb kid from facing a 150lb one. 

on Jun. 27 2010 at 12:05 pm
InkDance PLATINUM, Sylvania, Ohio
31 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
The only difference between highschoolers and preschoolers is that preschoolers get naptime.

What I don't get about this post is that to me, it seems like weight cutting can be a form of running away. So what if there's a better wrestler than you? So you step down to the kids who are smaller than you so you can achieve victory that way? I don't wrestle, it's true, so I may be missing the point, but I know that I've been ousted by countless people in track, but that doesn't make me go to an easier race. It makes me train harder and get myself in the best possible shape so I can go out and be a bit better the next one. Same with soccer- when someone blows by me with an awesome move, I go home and practice juggling or sprints so I can blow by them with my speed. 

on Jun. 23 2010 at 10:59 pm
When i cut weight i feel cleaner-it helps me focus, push myself, and it feels good. I mean it sucks to be hungry and thirsty but at the same time you no there aren't any chemicals in you any more-it really does clean you out

on Jun. 23 2010 at 10:55 pm
Cutting weight isnt just for the 6 minutes on the mat-TheGuy is right these seasons will stick with you for life-and not the health problems-20 years from you know when your doing something hard some hard job your going to look back on your wrestling career and remember what you used to do-and that job is going to seem a lot easier. Also the discipline and mental strength will stay with you forever-I've got a 48 year old dad who wrestled-he still talks about it with that glazed over expression

on Jun. 23 2010 at 10:51 pm
Hey Book Addict-Have you ever stepped on the mat? yes eating healthy is good it helps- but you still eat a lot less than usual-and unless you've stepped on the mat you will never understand 

on Jun. 23 2010 at 10:48 pm
Its not going to be stopped-not in the next 20 years anyway-its an accepted part of one of if not the hardest and most intense sport there is-and if your a wrestler it makes sense

Mrs. C said...
on Jun. 23 2010 at 8:05 pm
Death isn't bad? Interesting comment wrestler gal, why don't you tell that to the mom who lost thier kid!

WrestlerGirl said...
on Jun. 14 2010 at 4:16 pm
you people who are saying its bad...STFU especially if your not even in wrestling. you dont know anything so just shut up and leave it alone its not your buisness. ehm sorry if my last message got sent where it shouldnt have..

A Wrestler said...
on May. 17 2010 at 2:25 pm
What would YOU do if YOUR spot on the team was in jeopardy, stay where you were and get kicked off the "A-Team" or cut weight and go to a lower weight class and have a better chance of staying on the "A-Team"

A Wrestler said...
on May. 17 2010 at 2:22 pm

Great article, lots of facts.

I agree that cutting weight is dangerous, and I myself have been guilty of it. Sometimes it's necessary though when you have a wrestler better than you in the weight class you fall in, so you cut weight to go to a lower one.

Dalaney said...
on May. 17 2010 at 12:55 pm
Dalaney, Farmington, New Mexico
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Only the gentle are ever really strong- James Dean

Ummm cutting weight seems so ridiculous to you because nothing important to you requires it. I play volleyball and it's my passion, if my coach tells me he wants me to lose five pounds in two days for Thursdays game, i'm going to do it. Who are you to say what's absurd or what's worth it and what's not? I agree that yes athletes need to be aware of the health of their bodies, but to some of us going to the absolute extreme is worth it. And that's that.

on May. 5 2010 at 11:58 pm
I am a stat girl for my high school wrestling team and i witness this everyday. I sit in on practices as part of my stat girl duties, bringing water and so forth, and it has stopped surprising me when the guys shake their heads at the water in my hands and keep running, convinced they have to finish that last lap of their tenth mile. It scares me every time i see one of the guys fall to the ground in exhaustion. Weight cutting is no joke and it needs to be stopped. I just dont know how it will happen. 

TheGuy said...
on Apr. 22 2010 at 7:05 pm
Really, there is nothing I'm more proud of, or memorable than the wrestling seasons I went through.

on Apr. 7 2010 at 2:37 pm
TitanAEB BRONZE, Clemmons, North Carolina
3 articles 1 photo 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Fiction is the truth behind the lie." -Stephen King

"Can't possibly find success in any capacity, mentally, emotionally, or physically."


Really? My brother cut a lot of weight for wrestling, and he's doing better mentally, emotionally, physically, and academically than ever before...

skizzle said...
on Feb. 20 2010 at 4:20 pm
wrestiling should be like football no weight limit

on Feb. 18 2010 at 4:42 pm
Wrestlers who have body fat to lose should lose it, but healthily, not "cutting weight".

It's those that don't have any fat to lose, but still cut weight that worry me. You can see it in them on the mat; their wrestling suffers when they cut weight.

Angel24 said...
on Feb. 18 2010 at 2:05 pm
I love it and it was really good


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