From the Wrestling Mat to the White House

More than anything else, wrestling has shaped made me into the person I am today. I started wrestling as a four-foot nine-inch, 88-pound freshman in high school, and after a mediocre season became inspired by watching the New England finals to become a champion. Three years, numerous loses, and more hours spent on the mat than I could count later, I became the first New England Champion in my school’s history. This past year I became only the second National Champion in the history of MIT wrestling.

Over the course of my wrestling career, I’ve developed passion, perseverance, work ethic, vision, and a confidence that has allowed me to succeed far beyond the wrestling mat, including thriving in the rigorous environment of MIT and becoming a leader across a variety of domains. For the past two years now, I have been interested in how my wrestling experience translated into success beyond the mat, and how similar experiences transform others. I started a project [1] to gather stories from wrestlers across the country of all ages about what they learned through wrestling and how those lessons helped them succeed more broadly.

One area where many wrestlers go on to make an impact is politics, and actually one-fourth of all U.S. Presidents, and a number of other politicians, wrestled at some point in their lives [2].  My research will explore how wrestling prepared these men for a career of public service, looking at how their wrestling experiences equipped them traits that made them effective leaders. Overall, I aim to show how wrestling can forge someone into a political leader, and by extension a leader in any domain.

If anyone would like to know more about my topic or has any thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to email me at shames@mit.edu.


[1] www.wrestlingstories.org

[2] “Famous Americans Who Wrestled,” accessed October 21, 2013, http://www.nwcaonline.com/nwcawebsite/savingwrestlinghome/famouswrestlers.aspx

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