Josna Rege

32. My Wrestling Career

In 1960s, Childhood, Stories on March 29, 2010 at 8:20 pm
For a few months when I was about ten, I fancied myself a wrestler. It was wrestling, not boxing, that interested me—I was never attracted to the idea of using other people as punching bags. I was skinny and agile, and to me, wrestling was a game of wits and joyful physicality, where people wrangled for positional advantage in a series of skilful moves. It didn’t seem adversarial to me, simply fun. At recess once I enjoyed causing a few heads to turn by challenging some of the boys to a wrestling match, and I came away still thinking of myself as rather good, and of wrestling as a harmless sport. I realize now that they were almost certainly being kind to me, perhaps out of gentlemanly forbearance,  more likely out of fear of the consequences if someone were to report them for fighting a girl. But I didn’t see wrestling as any different from the coordinated acrobatic routines I used to work out with my girlfriends, or the gymnastic feats we performed at the playground, shinning up poles and hanging by our legs from the bars above the swings.

One day a friend came over to play after school and I challenged her to a wrestling match. She was a sweet girl, and though she wasn’t enthusiastic about the prospect, she consented without demur. I directed her to a mat in the living room and without any preliminaries, pinned her arms expertly to the floor.

“Ow!” said my friend, “You’ve hurt my elbow!” And she began to cry.

This scenario had never occurred to me: I was appalled.

“Oh sorry, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you. Let’s stop playing this game right now.”

That was the end of my wrestling career.

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  1. As a ten year old boy, I would not have let you win

    • Then perhaps I wouldn’t have such a big head today! Then again, there’s possibility that he didn’t (let me win), but was thrown by the element of surprise!

  2. I did’nt say you would’nt have won, just that I would not have let
    you. Like you, when I was ten years old I was small and wiry and out
    thought my much larger foes, whereas you being your confident self,
    won because you knew you could and would.

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