By Tino Mantella
TLG President & CEO
During my flight traveling to the Men’s National Wrestling tournament in Detroit, I was pondering what I should write for the March 2022 issue of our newsletter that highlights women. Then it dawned on me. Why not write about women’s wrestling? I am talking about real wrestling, not the fake WWE (btw, there are some great athletes in the WWE, but that is NOT real wrestling.)
Some of you know that I was a collegiate grappler and captain of my Temple University wrestling team. To be honest, I was only in the middle of the D-1 pack. I had the dream to be a national champion but not the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) to make it happen. I have told the story of my summer before my senior year. This was my make-or-break year. I could have taught and trained at one of the prestigious wrestling camps and trained all summer long. Instead, I decided to work as a bouncer and bartender at a bar in Point Pleasant N.J. Admittedly, it was a lot of fun, but not a roadmap to the gold ring. I was disappointed, but I also knew I didn’t put in the time.
I learned from that experience and decided to outwork everyone on the business side. To this day, I am still working on Saturdays and Sundays when most others are playing. I am not saying it’s the right thing to do, but my work ethic not only stems from my upbringing, but also my swing and miss, or should I say lack of takedowns, that made me the working fanatic that I am today. In contrast, my younger brother Tony took a construction job the summer before his senior year. His motto was, “give me the sledgehammer.” It paid off as he finished second in the nation.
At this point I want to pause to recognize that there is generally a gap between those who desire to put additional hours into work, or to pursue any passion. The realities of life get in the way. Women have traditionally been particularly impacted by obligations and expectations. This fact was evident during the pandemic as “about one in three women said they have considered either leaving the workforce or downshifting their career” according to an article in CBS news.
Women in Wrestling
We would never have envisioned a woman on the mat when I was wrestling. To this day, I know some people who think it’s very strange to have women in “a man’s sport;” however, today there are thousands of women wrestlers. We even have an Olympic gold medal champion in Tamyra Mensah Stock.
As we all know, many people are slow to recognize that women can and should be able to do anything men can do. Often, they can do it better. Whether leading a Fortune 500 company, being a political leader, or representing the USA at the Olympics, we all need to keep pushing to not just accept but to embrace women in leadership. I for one would not have wanted to go up against Tamyra. Not because she is a woman, but because she would kick my butt!