Cocky State Champion: What to do?

Beginning in the fall of 2000, I had the opportunity to begin working exclusively with one of those athletes who just hates to lose. He asked me for help, and I took the time to work out with him before school, wrestled with him exclusively during practice, stayed behind after practice, wrestled 2-3 hours per day during the summer of 2001, etc.

He finished with a 39-3 record in 2001, and washed out of the state championships (ranked #3, lost two straight matches). So, his goal was to win in 2002.

So, we started again. Before school drilling; wrestled with him exclusively during practice; spent time after; etc.

He finished 43-1 (injury forfeit in tournament) and won a state championship. Now, during freestyle, he is a complete asshole to deal with. His attitude is horrible. Younger athletes hate dealing with him. But, the head coach has said nothing.

I (as a BJJ blue belt) have shown him a few things over the past 2 years. I have also started teaching a few graduates (former wrestlers) and a couple of guys from the present squad. But, he belittles their efforts and announces that he'll still destroy them in BJJ, since he's a better wrestler and "knows" BJJ.

It is also getting to the point that he is smarting off to me in public, did a "punk slap" (albeit not hard or "real") to me in front of a group of people, and so on.

How would you handle this? I'm close with this young man, and he attends my church. He has stayed with me and my wife when his homelife (BAD) is not so swift. I've watched him grow from the skinny 8th grader to a state champ in his senior year, but the attitude is starting to get on my nerves.

I played with him in BJJ yesterday in private and got 4 taps in 4 minutes before wrestling practice began. Should I continue to do this, or should I demolish him in wrestling, in front of everyone?

Either or.

But if I do not let the tap go, who ends up looking like an ass? Him or me? Word gets out very quickly in small towns.

Put him in his place definitely, let him know that even though he may be a good wrestler, he's still no match for your submissions

I like CAMEL KILLER's suggestion. Thank you very much.

CAMEL definitely has a good idea! He needs to be humbled, but not by you. CK, book yourself a ticket now. You can deduct the cost as a charitable contribution to society ;)

Maybe you can find some nearby wrestling clubs and ask around for a former college wrestler or something. If you can't find a "ringer" then yes, you should demolish him in front of everyone in wrestling.

Also, if you really are close to him (he's stayed with you and all), why not try to talk to him? Explain to him that he's acting like an asshole. If you are close to him and he does respect you, he'll listen. (He will probably initially act offended and be pissed, but over the course of a few days, the words will sink in). Also let him know that his worth as a wrestler does not equate to his worth as a person, since he apparently has not figured this out.

It seems his problem might be that he is a big fish in a very small pond. It might help to remind him that there are ponds (college wrestling, for example) where state champs are a dime-a-dozen.

Either way, I got pissed off just reading your original post. With all the help you've given him, I can't believe he would be that disrespectful to you in private, OR in front of others. Also, why has his head coach not addressed this? That behavior would be taken care of REAL quick in most wrestling rooms.

Maybe his shitty homelife has something to do with it? Maybe he's got a serious confidence problem so now that he's achieved an admittedly admirable level of success, he's just running wild with it.

CAMEL's idea

Good advice from Chip. Talk to him. Not many people, especially young males, are willing to really talk about such issues. Get your feelings out in the air. Even if it doesn't help him, it will make you feel better.

Also, be willing to cut him off completely. You're the one who's making the decision to spend the extra time with him. It sounds like nobody else would make that same decision. He should realize this and appreciate you and his team-mates.

Gotta agree with whoever said "talk to him first." It's easy to just make assumptions about him, and go and try and embarrass the kid in front of his peers. Depending on the situation, that might help.. but it might just make things worse as well. I'd really suggest just sitting down and talking to him, explain how you see things, and why you thing his attitude may be getting out of hand, and find out what he's thinking.

If that doesn't help, then yeah, maybe he just needs to be put in his place so to speak.

He is probably just going through a phase that many of us do in high school. As tempting as it might be to "humble" him, this may cause more harm than good. This I say from experience. I had a high school coach who thought the same of me at one point, so he took me into the wrestling room one day after class and "humbled" me for about 45 minutes. The whole experience was very counterproductive for our relationship.

I lost a lot of respect for him and really ended up thinking that he was a pussy for doing it. After all, why would an NCAA champion have to prove himself by beating the shit out of a 16 year old. I wasn't humbled at all, I just resented him for it.

If you would like to continue to have the father-figure relationship that you have with him now, I would suggest that you don't humble him because it could backfire on you. As Chip suggested above, I would talk to him and let him know how you feel. As a state champion, he ought to be a leader for the team. Maybe you, the coach and the other members of the team should let him know that they want him to be a leader but he is not doing a good job of it now.

If all else fails, he will have plenty of humbling experiences should he decide to wrestle in college.


I get the feeling that your situation with your coach was somewhat different than this...

"After all, why would an NCAA champion have to prove himself by beating the shit out of a 16 year old." just based on this statement, it seems that you had a decent amount of respect for your coach.

from k-dog's statements, "It is also getting to the point that he is smarting off to me in public, did a 'punk slap' (albeit not hard or "real") to me in front of a group of people, and so on."

it seems that he is disrespecting k-dog to "gain status" among his peers. he's abusing their relationship. i'm just guessing that you didn't do that with your coach.

now it all depends on his personality. for some guys, talking to them works best. others need the humbling followed by talking (me for instance- i would have definitely needed this).

no shame

i like camel killers idea too, find somebody that has excellent wrestling and excellent skills. let him walk in before practice and see you guys rolling and have him say "hey i've seen some of that stuff can i give it a try." then have the guy tap his ass all over the place, then stay for practice. your boy will be so anxious to whip up on him in wrestling and when he doesnt that ego of his should get nicely crushed

Yep, he needs his ass kicked,plain and simple.

You say that he goes to your church.. possibly have the pastor talk to him about a sin called "pride."

when this doesn't work.. refer back to the "find someone to kick his ass" thread.

out of curiosity, where are you, I might know somebody.

I'm in the "hotbed" of interscholastic wrestling, Florida.

The "slaps" are not the major concern. Everyone knows that I could get him for that. When he does something like that, I take off after him, and he falls into the "Ettish" position and begs forgiveness. It can be viewed as playing, but it is inappropriate.

My major concern is how others view him, and by extension, the program. Younger wrestlers (8th graders wrestling freestyle now, 9th graders who wrestled during the season) resent him and the attitude that comes across.

No doubt that his success, his appearance on the front page of the local paper, his name on all restaurant billboards in town, etc., has flamed his ego.

lol @ the sin of pride, funny, but all too relevant to this situation.

Ya dude, you do not want the younger guys either emulating him, or having their wrestling experience soured by him. Fix the problem.

Plan A: talk to him. Let him get pissed at you initially, and give it a few days for him to mull over your words. My guess (assuming he does respect you) is that you will see him mellow out over the next few days.

If plan A has no or limited effect...

Plan B: you really should consider finding a ringer to school him.

As long as you do something. One of the things I love about wrestling is the very sportsmanlike culture of it, be humble, don't talk shit, just go out on the mat and do your thing. If you're good, your performance will do all the talking you'll ever need to do. A coach should reinforce sportsmanship and quickly take care of anyone who steps outside the lines on this - "The nail that sticks up... gets hammered back down."

It's usually not in my nature to talk this harshly about stuff, but those who commit the sin of pride *nod to Samoo* severely piss me off. Kind of a hot button for me.

Problem solved on both counts. The head coach had a much older wrestler (the only other person at the school to win a state championship, which was in 1991) come in and wrestle. He introduced himself to me and began to wrestle in with me first.

He had talked to me beforehand via telephone and wanted to know about the young man's attitude problem, since the head coach had mentioned it in passing. So, after our match (pretty exciting actually), the ringer asked the "problem" to wrestle.

Our "ringer" stayed on one knee, in a football stance, for much of the match. The ringer kept getting the takedown, and letting him up; then the ringer would get him pinned and hold him there until he gave up, and started again.

After the "ringer" thanked me for letting him wrestle with me and asked if he could come back and get more practice, the young state champion came over to me and asked how to beat the ringer, why the moves (when I used them) worked for me and not for him, and if I could stay after and help him practice.

So, I used the opportunity to lecture him on his attitude. I reiterated that no one enjoys working with an arrogant ass who thinks that he is God's gift to small town wrestling. I informed him who it was that he wrestled, and that the attitude portrayed over the scholastic season and first weeks of the freestyle season will not work.

So how did he react to this, k-dog? Did he seem like he got the message, and will likely improve his attitude now? Or did he get pissed and sulky, or what?

Please let us know how this turns out... I'm sure there are lessons to be learned from this, that many of us will be able to apply later in life (or maybe even immediately... I say later because I personally don't have kids yet, and I don't work with any kids or anything ).

Excellent k-dog. I'm also interested in hearing about his reaction.

He was not happy about what I said. He said that the other people (i.e., the other high schoolers) were jealous of his success and hard work. He was less than ecstatic that the head coach and I had a former collegiate wrestler come in and whip him on the mat "in front of everyone." He said that he would not come back into the room since it was evident that his time was not wanted.

I asked him who made him the wrestler that he has become. I rudely reminded him of his freshman and sophomore season records, and how he still has an 0-12 freestyle record. I also reminded him how I spent the entire wrestling season practicing exclusively with him (with a knee injury), and that I did not remember getting pinned or beaten in shark bait drills all season.

I did tell him that state champions mean dick to collegiate wrestlers. As stated, they are a dime a dozen. I even pointed out to him that two of his losses during his junior year came against an individual (2x state champ, undefeated for 2 straight years) that is third team at a junior college in Iowa.

At church, his tone was different. He came up after the service last night and apologized to me, said that he recognized where he was going and that he had simply forgotten how he was supposed to act.