BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Wrestling is a slow and melodic start to a frenzied free for all.
For Ryan King and Wesley Baker, each match pits them against three opponents – the man standing across from then and their eyes.
“It’s a contact, blood sport,” Baker said. “You can vent your frustrations out. It’s therapy for me, really.”
Both boys are legally blind, which is something that makes their pursuits in wrestling even more impressive.
“I was actually born completely blind, because I was born with cataracts, but it was corrected,” Baker said. “They took out my lenses and gave me fake ones.”
The mat is an arena where the field is required to be level.
Life, though, has no rules.
“When I was in elementary school, they’d call me a freak, they called me a blind b-word, blind bat, blind curse word,” explained King.
For the Redskins of the Alabama School for the Blind, the biggest battle isn’t what they see but how they’re seen.
“Some people may think just because I have a disability that I’m not as good as they are,” King said. “That’s my inspiration – to prove them wrong and prove that I have what it takes to be where they are, and I deserve to be out on that mat.”
By winning on the mat, they win in the mind, showing that no matter the opponent, your toughest competition doesn’t look at you from across the mat.
Rather, your toughest opponent is who you see when you look into a mirror.
“Keep pushing. Keep fighting for what you want to do,” said Baker. “Don’t let something you were born with, something you can’t help hold you back.”
Because at the end of the day, a champion’s name is always at the top, where everyone can see it.
2014 WIAT-TV CBS42