Wrestlers face winds of change again3/26/2014
Wrestlers are homosapiens of a different breed. One minute they have a 4,000-calorie meal before them, and the next they’re spitting into a water bottle to cut weight. These mat warriors relish the competition and the thrill of not knowing for certain if they’ll come out on top or be pinned on their backs.
While their body-preztelling bouts are a spectator’s delight, seasoned wrestlers have techniques rarely talked about outside the locker room. Always looking to gain any advantage over opponents but without enough hours in a day to expand training and weight-cutting, one such example is when a grappler ingests garlic before going head to head with an opponent to make the physically intimate three-period matches all the more uncomfortable for the other guy. Others have been known to eat beans — the “magical (and musical) fruit — or choice vegetables like Brussels sprouts or broccoli shortly before taking the down position to build gas in the bowels (an untold reason behind the term “cauliflower ear.”)
Fart jokes aside, mat pack veterans such as University of Iowa hero Dan Gable are aghast at the claim that flatus might “conceivably be used to weaken an already underfed opponent,” he said in a press conference last week. Gable’s comments stem from recent litigation where the Supreme Court decided such tactics, if proven, were disqualifiers.
Things came to a head last year when Ohio State middle-weight Hal Tosis earned a sour second place finish at a Big Ten tournament and took the matter to court. Though many likened the lawsuit to a case of sour grapes, the court’s ruling declared that precedent had been set as early as 1928, citing the use of mustard gas in WWI. The Geneva Convention’s ruling prohibits the use of “asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices” and “bacteriological methods of warfare,” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg quoted. “The rectum, like mustard gas, contains sulfur, which has demonstrated to significantly increase the smell of flatus.”
Wrestling ambassador that he is, Gable said, “How can this possibly be enforced? It’s understandable in reference to a shart during a match, but strictly flatus? They’ll get tummy aches!”
He suggested the referees of the wresting world step back off the mat, take a deep breath and see if this ruling passes the smell test of true amateur sportsmanship before delivering any such penalties.
Many will recall the unparalleled support that started in Iowa and grew throughout the world last year when the Olympic committee threatened to take wrestling off the list of Olympic sports. Saved by the march of past and present professional, collegiate and Olympic athletes and coaches, wrestling continued to be sanctioned. Who can forget Gov. Branstad in that skintight T-shirt followed freakishly close behind by Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, representing Iowa’s tradition in the sport, leading the parade of supporters. Celebrities such as Iowa native Tom Arnold and the lesser-known Baldwin brothers also reached out to touch the wrestling world.
Gable, in his speech, called for an encore.
“Was it not Obama who rose to prominence with his ‘there are no red states or blues states, just the United States’ speech, just as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin rallied the citizens in the wake of hurricane Katrina with his ‘Chocolate City’ speech?” he urged. “Perhaps the time is now, in this great state of many wind turbine parts cruising down every Iowa highway for our leaders to stand up to this assault on the sport and say: ‘Fart You.’ ”
Locker Room Note: The International Mime Olympics will row into Hy-Vee Hall this weekend on Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Invisible box seats run $30. APRIL FOOLS!
David Rowley is a University of Iowa graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Smartass Quips.