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!

BigPeterT said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm
Dude cmon, its part of the sport. Give us a break. YOu probably have no idea what we go thorugh in a wrestling season so get you facts straight
wrestle4lifeordie replied...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 11:26 am
yeah but thats your brother not every single person that wrestles. untill youve done it, dont talk about it
ForeverFelix replied...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 3:27 pm
Hello, I said "too much, too long." Dropping five or ten pounds isn't a big deal if you can afford it. But getting down to like 0% body fat? That's dangerous.
AquaMan said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:54 pm
This is a good article, but weight cutting isnt that bad if you do it the right way. The right way is to limit food porportions and work out for a resonible amount of time. I weigh 133 and i am thinking about going to 112, but if i do that i will do it from now until regions.
DellsBallas said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:50 pm
I agree with Ryan. Some of the eating disorders are from the kids that are stupid about cutting wieght. the wrestlers that I know are all very healthy. I also know that i could not ever be a wrestler.
BigPeterT replied...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm
I love your name
Ryan N. said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm
check the facts maybe
119 wrestler said...
Mar. 23, 2009 at 3:50 pm
This is a pretty cool article, but check some of the facts, like the eating disorder.
112lbWrestler said...
Feb. 22, 2009 at 6:15 pm
obviously the college wrestlers didn't die from hypothermia because of their perspiration, thats ridiculous. they were wearing rubber suits in a 90 degree room while exercising at an insane level. they died from hyperthermia because their core temperature rose above 113 degrees. hyperthermia is also known as heat stroke. and hypothermia didn't cause their organ failure, it was their use of diuretics, fasting, vomiting, and spitting that dropped their hydration level far below a safe level.
wrestler140 said...
Feb. 15, 2009 at 4:23 pm
JPBK171... the weight class is 171. If you weigh over that aount then you are ineligible for the weight class.
Also, he may have drank up because the coach felt the team had a better chance at winning if he wrestled 189. It's all in the nature of the sport. I'm a 140 pounder and sometimes I have to weigh in at 145 so I can wrestle 152. My coach would not make me wrestle that high up unless he was sure I could/would win
Wrestlersmom said...
Jan. 27, 2009 at 8:41 pm
I totally agree with your article. I watched my high school son go from a healthy 170 lb. to cutting to make 145 lb. weight class. He wrestled for a while, unsuccessfully after being placed 5th in the nation, until he finally collapsed with a horrible headache. His blood pressure shot up to 148 over 101. He was lucky, we are still in the process of doing tests, but he is eating regularly. He may just come out of this with only high blood pressure. I stress only, and not that that is not se... (more »)
alex t. said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 12:13 am
alright i think that you are right about the extreme weight cutting, saige, but i dont believe we should go and completely abolish weight cutting in wrestling. It is a facter but in my opinion not that big of a facter and shouldnt be such a big concern
hiel hittler replied...
Sept. 8, 2009 at 1:29 pm
jeremys the man and randy too
Worried Teacher said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 9:09 pm
Thanks for raising an issue that is so important to our young wrestlers. As a teacher who sorrowfully watches my students lose weight each year to the point that they are lethargic and unable to focus, I am entirely against an athlete dismissing the common sense value of good nutrition. I have students who haven't eaten in three days, or drank for two. With this strategy, they can't possibly find success in any capacity, mentally, emotionally, or physically.
BigPeterT replied...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm
Wow, i dont not agree with you at all dude, we try hard to succeed you dont know what we go thorugh
AquaMan replied...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm
I do not agree with you! It should be up to them. Dont worry about it.
BigPeterT replied...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm
Ya Aqua Man
BigPeterT replied...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 2:01 pm
Ya aquaman thats whats up
TitanAEB This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm

"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...

Eagles Wrestler replied...
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
Grambus said...
Jan. 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm
Big D-- I don't think that he is saying that cutting weight causes 300,000 deaths per year. He is saying that cutting weight may lead to eating disorders (which it does) and that eating disorders contribute to 300,000 deaths per year, some of which (probrably not a large portion) could be from cutting weight.
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