Story by Cpl Naomi May on 04/28/2019US Marines partnered with and attended the US Marine Corps Open Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, April 25-27, 2019.
The Marine Corps Recruiting Command partnered with USA Wrestling to support student athletes, coaches and their communities, to inform young people about opportunities within the Marine Corps, and to continue to foster the fighting spirit that Marines and athletes share.
"The same characteristics you would use to describe Marines is what you would use to describe wrestlers," said Ryan Johnson, director of corporate partnerships for USA Wrestling. "The natural fit between the two organizations is really powerful for us."
The Open presented opportunities for wrestlers of almost all ages and weight classes to compete for a place on the USA Wrestling National Team, which will compete at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan in September.
USA Wrestling, a representative of the United States Olympic Committee, is the central organization that coordinates amateur wrestling programs throughout the nation. The organizations has more than 226,000 members. It charters over 4,500 wrestling clubs and sanctions over 2,100 local, state, regional and national competitions.
"Wrestlers are exactly who we're looking for in the Marine Corps," said Capt. Karen Holliday, a former wrestler and the current communication strategy director of Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. "It's all about overcoming adversity and getting to that next goal. Overcoming failure is what really breeds success."
Throughout the event, Marines distributed branded items at athlete registration, presented awards to winning wrestlers, presented the National and Marine Corps colors during the National Anthem and shared their core values with athletes and coaches.
Col. David Fallon, the commanding officer of 9th Marine Corps District, also gave remarks to the wrestling crowd and acted as a guest commentator for FloWrestling during the championships.
"I'd really like to acknowledge and congratulate all the competitors, win or lose, for making the decision to sign up and show up to this event," Fallon said. "We all know it takes a special type of person to have the courage to walk to the center of these mats, put their toe on the line, and put it all on the line."
During the open, Marine Sgt. Raymond Bunker, a member of the All-Marine Wrestling Team, won a bout against Ravaughn Perkins during the Senior Men's Greco Roman Finals, securing him a spot on the USA Wrestling Team for the World Championships.
"To win this [championship] for the Marine Corps is a dream," Bunker said. "Marines do whatever it takes to get the victory, to win, to come out on top wrestlers and Marines, we have this in common, that fighting spirit."
The Marine Corps continues to support USA Wrestling to increase awareness and positive perception of the Corps while also reinforcing values such as discipline, physical fitness, aggressive attitude, and mental and physical toughness, which align with Marine principles.