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.

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This article has 125 comments. Post your own now!

abnormal said...
Aug. 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm
I agree with you completely.  My dad used to do wrestling and he said the coach always pushed them to be in a lower weight limit and after a big match they would pig out at McDonalds, just to realize that their stomaches have grown smaller since they haven't been feeding them.  Thankfully though, nothing life-threatening happened to him.
Project! replied...
Oct. 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm
We are going a project on cutting weight so what you guys are saying it is bad to cut weight witch leads to death
chiko said...
Aug. 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm

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Says Chino

punkie said...
Aug. 10, 2011 at 7:41 pm
why do this if i dont have a problem lik i think its wrong you dont see yourself pretty than that aint my problem
punkie said...
Aug. 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm
i got to this for school to boring i want to live my summer
chino said...
Aug. 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm
im doing this for school
ashrald said...
Jul. 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm
I'm so glad i've understand this article because if i don't i can't do my summer project!
earlybird_8 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 17, 2011 at 9:24 pm
This is so true! I have friends who do wrestling, and they all talk about the 'loser running kids' who spend half an hour running in thick hoodies to lose enough body weight in perspiration to get into their target weight class. One of them went on a strict diet right before a tournament that was basically protein shakes and water so she could get bumped down a weight class (thankfully she went to her doctor before, to make sure she wouldn't die of starvation or anything, but still...). It's rid... (more »)
viviJR replied...
Jul. 5, 2011 at 1:36 am
that doesnt sound fun at all.
Dr.Jerry said...
Jun. 5, 2011 at 12:33 am
The author of this essay confused HypOthermia with "HypERthermia".
The athletes didnt die from getting too cold, they died from heat exhaustion ie. HypOthermia.
Perspiration can't possibly cool you to the point of HypERthermia...especially not if you're excercising in an 80 degree room.
Shyzilla replied...
Jun. 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm
actually dr. Jerry your the one who's confused- hypOthermia is when the bodys temperature drops to dangerous levels and its hypERthermia that is the body overheating
BeatlesLove97 said...
May 4, 2011 at 7:07 am
My little brother who's only in sixth grade does wrestling and sometimes I worry about him because he's only 75 pounds and his coach is always pushing him to get to 70. I think you're right, cutting weight is very dangerous, especially at young ages when your body is still growing, like my brother. Or even high school students. Their bodies are still growing too.
hmmm said...
Apr. 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm
Who runs 40 minutes to lose half a pound? Your not running ast enough.
niga replied...
Jun. 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm
not relevant
killa2121 said...
Apr. 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

im gona eat u


niga replied...
Jun. 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm
not  relvant
Wrestler4life said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm
I have been wrestling for a few years now and my freshman year i started off weighing about 108 but i hit a growth spurt and i weighed about 118 but i could still cut down to 103 without to much of a problem and last year as a sophmore i was 134 cutting to 119 and im 5'9 it isnt that hard or dangerous if you know how to do it right and you can stay mentally strong
pacman106 replied...
Oct. 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Youre very right. I weigh about 120 and I plan to cut to 106. I could do this in a week, eating right and drinking water. My friend is cutting from 155 to 132 and hes 5"11 all muscle. As it can be dangerous and what not, Its a sacrifice we all wrestlers take, and By state championship, Its totally worth it. Good luck to your season bro.


"You've wondered if the pain and sacrifce was worth it; Now you know."

ArcaneGhost said...
Mar. 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm
Well, this may sound stupid, but wouldn't the tougher thing to do be to strive to compete in the weight division that you happen to fall under?
LucasMMA-USMC replied...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 11:03 pm
To compete and train at your weight is the best way to go about it.  Frankie Edger is a perfect example as their are many other UFC fighters that do so.  Cutting weight is dangerous, and often abused.  I do cut from 190 to 176 but my methods do not involve sweat suits, heated rooms, or saunas.  It's all done through work outs and nutrition.  I will never cut more then 5-10 pounds so I lose the weight and get as close as I can to my fight weight, then cut a little the nig... (more »)
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