By Jonny Ruggiano
U.S. Open Champion Tony Ramos gives the singlet off of his back
Tony Ramos remembers what it was like to be a kid looking up to people in admiration and dreaming of the future. After last Saturday’s win against Andrew Hochstrasser for the U.S. Open championship, Ramos can rest assured that everyone now is looking up at him. At the conclusion of his title bout with Hochstrasser, Ramos’ post celebration was delayed for a brief moment as he was running through the crowd and one young fan asked for his autograph. This fan never expected the generosity that came next from Ramos,” I was a little kid too and had people I looked up to.” Ramos recalled, “Why not give him my singlet? It’s gonna mean more to him than for me to bring it home. So I decided to take it off, sign it and give it to him. Hopefully it made his day and maybe his year.” This sort of reaction, on the part of Ramos, has been commonplace for the rising star of wrestling. A new father himself, Tony has learned to create a balancing act that serves to meet the needs of all that support him: family, team, club and fans.
The former Iowa Hawkeye has made an impressive run to the top by taking on all challengers. “This time last year I decided to start wrestling freestyle.” Since Ramos’ change over into international wrestling he has earned the position of world team member; wrestled at the World Cup in Los Angeles, claimed and defended his Global Wrestling Championships belt and wrestled for Titan Mercury for the World Clubs Cup in Iran last fall, in which Titan Mercury won a world silver medal. Tony has defeated all of his domestic opponents and aims for a higher prize, “for me the ultimate goal is winning a world title.” In winning last week’s U.S. open Ramos has paved a smoother road to earning the world team spot.” This is one step toward it. Now I’m sitting out for the tournament and six to seven guys will be battling it out to see who I’m gonna be wrestling in the best two out of three.”
While claiming the U.S.A.’s top spot seems to have created an easier road, Ramos continues to pursue greater opponents and remains grounded in his development. “I think the most important matches are the ones that I lost. You see the mistakes your making and you can get better.” One of these progressions can best be seen from his early lost to Iranian wrestler Hassan Rahimi at the World Clubs Cup last fall in Iran to his close battle with Rahimi in Los Angeles last month at the World Cup.” Titan Mercury actually went to Iran for the World Clubs Cup. I wrestled Rahimi there and it wasn’t a pretty match. One thing I notice is that I’m getting better every time I step out on the mat. When I wrestled him again at World Cup it was much closer. Definitely a winnable match, so I’m getting better every time.” Ramos will have a chance to avenge his other World Cup loss as he takes on Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez of Cuba in the Beat the Streets dual in Times Square, this Thursday, May 21st.
While Ramos has gone from college national champion, to world team member in one year, his elevation to being a top American wrestler has been highlighted with dynamic comebacks and high profile matches. His best performance of the year came from the newly created Global Wrestling Championships, a pro wrestling league that has offered dream match ups throughout the year. In April Ramos came into the GWC event: Iowa Against the World as the reigning GWC champion. However he faced perhaps his greatest opponent to date in Olympic Champion, Henry Cejudo. Ramos proved yet again that he was the man to beat, pinning Cejudo and stealing the show from all other bouts of the night.
Dynamic match ups have propelled Ramos into the star that he is now. He also sees the emergence of professional wrestling outlets as a major opportunity for wrestling. Ramos believes it’s the next step for wrestling. It’s also one that can merge a demanding international training and competition schedule with a domestic showcase. “There got to be a consistent two to three match ups per year, you can’t have two to three match ups every month. We might even be able to bring in some foreigners. You never know what can happen.” With wrestling duals on the way in the upcoming Hawkeye Wrestling Club vs. Titan Mercury Wrestling Club dual slotted this fall, you can guarantee that the sky is the limit for wrestling and Tony Ramos. As for Ramos, you can bet that he will continue to offer show-stopping matches taking on all comers from both international competitions as well as in the pro leagues.