Kerry Regner is a former United States National Team and University World Team member, as well as an alumnus of Northern Michigan’s Greco-Roman program under Ivan Ivanov. Currently, he is the head coach of Millersville University, residing in Pennsylvania with his wife Sarah and two sons, Jack (four) and Liam (two).
As I look back on my upbringing, two of the major pillars in the structure of our home is and has been our belief system — and sports. Our belief system is that Jesus Christ is God’s only son, who came to Earth and died on a cross to save us from sin. The second, much less important pillar is sports (and more specifically for my dad, brother and I, wrestling).
In processing why the sport of wrestling has stuck with me is the understanding that there are so many factors that relate wrestling to Christianity. I think the most relevant to me right now is that it does not matter what physical gifts you may or may not have, wrestling has a place for you. However, it does require one thing — your all. Just like Jesus explained in Matthew 22:37-38 with the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind.” That in so many ways brings a peaceful understanding.
Every day, it is so easy to pick out our flaws, failures, and shortcomings in both life and sports. But if we just believe in Him, He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28). I can remember at a young age in a tournament, we had a family friend who also competed. The family friend was actually an older gentleman who was completely blind. Our sport, which is confusing to many, allowed and found ways for him to compete. What an inclusive sport!
Perhaps more notably, you can look at wrestlers like Anthony Robles and Hassaan Hawthorne. There are so many sports that are limited to people due to height, size, or maybe even what I would dare refer to as a “disability”. Whereas, wrestling simply says, Put your foot on the line and give your best. Whatever you have, if you win, you win.
These examples bring to mind so much symmetry that is found in Luke 21:1-4. A poor widow had offered her two copper coins among all the coins the rich had, and Jesus praised her gifts that technically equaled more than the rich people’s abundance. Big, small, tall, short and or whatever your body type is, go and give it everything you have. Wrestling can be looked down upon because of its complexity, uniqueness, and maybe even its intensity. Just open your Bible and think about all of those who were looked down upon, shamed or killed by the world.
In the end, wrestling is just a sport. Although it holds a very important place in my own life, it also does not define me. The pillar that will stand the test of time is that regardless of my ethnicity or race, my true identity is that I was bought with the blood of Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28).
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