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My Ringer Beat Your Ringer

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I was the wrestling coach of the Ft. Wolters, Texas (about 40 miles west of Ft. Worth) base team. Ft. Wolters at that time was the primary helicopter flight school for the US Army. In addition there were many foreign students. I taught in the Leadership Branch, which also got the officer classes for pre-flight. My high school coach had been an AA for Ed Gallagher at Oklahoma A&M, so I'd had some pretty decent coaching in high school.


I figured some of the students in the officer classes might have wrestled in college. I was the scheduling officer for 15 officers. So I made sure that I got a different section each day. I'd ask them if any of them had wrestled in college. Finally one day a student held up his hand, he said he hadn't wrestled in college, but had wrestled for Greco-Roman for Turkey in the 1960 Olympics and placed 5th. Rafik Turna was his name, and he was at 136.5 in 1960 and could still make in 1968 even though he smoked and drank.


First day of practice I'm in the down position I stand up and the next thing I know I am flying through the air straight to my back. I said that is a slam! Rafik replied no it was a Salto. So every day I got an education in Greco Roman wrestling from Rafik, how to do arm throws, spins, jap whizzers, and gut wrenches.


We could use foreign students in dual meets, but not the tournaments for the Army teams (Ft. Wolters which had about 4,000 stationed there, took a team of foreign students as their soccer team and won the 4th Army tournament easily. After that the generals said no more foreign students!).


I convinced Rafik that as good as he was, there was no way the Ft. Sill team would have anyone as good as he was. So he agreed. Goes out in the first period and hits a 5-point arm throw. Then he stalls the rest of the match and wins 5-3. I realized the wrestler from Ft. Sill was pretty good. When the match was over Rafik, said you lied, he was pretty tough. When the meet was over the coach for Ft. Sill comes over and asks me who my 136.5-pounder was? I said who was yours? He said mine was 2nd in D-2 last year. I said mine was 5th in the 1960 Olympics, my ringer beat your ringer!


Rafik completed his 5 months at Ft. Wolters and then went to Ft. Rucker. I never saw him again, nor how to get in touch. I still teach some of the stuff he showed me, and tell these two stories.

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I was coaching youth wrestling.  We had a meet for the league championship.  The other coach cheated with his kids at every opportunity, hiding kids, lying about weight classes and then protesting - 'we don't have time to do weigh-ins', etc.  The previous year our teams met for the championship and he won by cheating, so I was ready for him the next year.   

It was going to be a close meet.  He came to me and said, "I have a kid from the Jr Hi who is looking for a bout. He's pretty good, but not great. Okay if we set one up?"  The kid was a ringer and I knew it.  The kid ended up as a PA state place winner in high school.  What the other coach didn't realize that I had brought my own ringer.    So I said, "I have a kid who came along to watch the meet.  He's in Jr Hi and is pretty good, too.  Let's set it up."

My ringer beat his ringer.  We won the dual by 6 points.

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