I'm Not A Wrestling Groupie, I Actually Just Love the Sport

I'm Not A Wrestling Groupie, I Actually Just Love the Sport

Over the last eighty years, traditional wrestling has brought Oklahoma more national and international wrestling medals, trophies, titles, and championships than any other state

Harlee Lynn Toothman
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I've been helping with the Oklahoma Wrestling team all four years of college. People that don't know me well or just don't want to understand, say I'm a "groupie" or maybe a "follower". I typically roll my eyes and move on because they don't understand that it's a huge part of my life, not even by choice.

My boyfriends' grandpa coached our high school wrestling team for thirty years, my freshman roommate is now engaged to her middle school sweetheart who wrestles for OU. My closest friends are either former wrestlers or current wrestlers; including one of my roommates. Wrestlers are my friends and they are my family. I was first exposed to the sport when my stepbrother wrestled and I started dating a guy that wrestled (my current boyfriend and middle school sweetheart) I remember thinking "this is such a weird sport"… tight outfits, cutting weight and the scoring made zero sense.

Harlee Lynn Photo

Flash forward I'm fully invested and I would consider it a way of life. A lot of my weekends revolve around wrestling, whether I'm helping with it or watching my boyfriend, friends or family. I guess I have Cody to thank for that. Sometimes I'm fed up with it, other times I'm craving it. Since I'm not a wrestler, on the outside looking in, I would say it's unexplainable. It's the most physically and mentally demanding sport. You will never change my mind about that. I truly can't see my life without the sport.

Growing up in Oklahoma, wrestling is a huge deal. Over the last eighty years, traditional wrestling has brought Oklahoma more national and international wrestling medals, trophies, titles, and championships than any other state.

Since 1932 twelve Oklahomans have stood on the top step to receive Olympic gold medals. Oklahoma State University (OSU) wrestlers have brought home nine and University of Oklahoma (OU) three. 30+ men from OSU and around nineteen from OU have made U.S. Olympic teams.

Alan Karstetter Jr.Harlee Lynn Photo

The sport of wrestling has a long and noble history. Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, and Peter the Great enjoyed and encouraged it. George Washington, Zachary Taylor, and Abraham Lincoln relished their wrestling victories. Wrestling historian Mihaly Biro asserts that abroad, wrestling is deemed "a living antiquity . . . linking the past, present, and future of all cultures" and celebrated in art, poetry, and history.

Oklahoma literally holds the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Stillwater's sprawling Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum stresses national heritage. Displays honor distinguished wrestlers, coaches, and contributors to the sport, and a library houses national and international wrestling publications and a significant collection of rare volumes dating back four hundred years. Also on view is a life-size statue, The Wrestlers, a copy of an original by ancient Greek sculptor Cephisodotus.

Despite the overwhelming mainstream popularity of the games played on the gridiron and hardwood, the Bedlam Series roots lie on the wrestling mat. The term is said to have been born on the night of a particularly heated wrestling dual in Stillwater at Gallagher Hall. A newspaper writer was said to have emerged from the building exclaiming to others outside, "It's bedlam in there!"

Harlee Lynn Photography

In Oklahoma, the sport of wrestling has endured and flourished, heartened by a bountiful harvest of state, national, international, and Olympic titles.

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