Wrestling Spirits


July 19, 2010 by David Gillaspie



Safety is the biggest reason for having a sanctioning body over sports.  Things get out of hand in the heat of competition.

The first wrestling match wasn’t sanctioned by USA Wrestling, NUWAY, or NCAA.  No state or national group rolled out a mat, put a guy with a whistle in the middle, and had the opponents shake hands.

And it turned out poorly.  Here’s what happened: Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, grew up.  One, Cain, became a farmer; Abel a rancher.

Abel found favor with his offerings to God.  Cain did not.  In a surprise ending, Cain won the first match.  The farmer killed the rancher, which seems like it should be the other way around when you think of cowboys and sod-busters. 

The underdog won, but at what cost?  Banishment.

Is it a biblical stretch to call Cain and Abel wrestlers?  If they were like any brothers I’ve heard of, they were wrestlers.  For evidence, consider the Brands brothers, the Schultz brothers, the Carr brothers, the Smith brothers, the Hazewinkels, the Scherrs, the Petersons, and the Russells.

If Gable had a wrestling brother, no one ever saw him.

Cain and Abel needed a ref, even though it’s said God was watching over them.  Since Adam and Eve were the only other human’s on earth at the time, God didn’t have his attention as spread out as today.

After older brother Cain killed younger brother Abel, the rules of engagement changed.  Victory did not include death in recreational combat because death is not a part of recreational activity. 

The rule book got refined as wrestling matches grew.  So did the spirit within wrestlers.

Gene Davis and Athletes In Action spread the words of Jesus Christ and wrestling.  Lincoln McIlravy does it with Wrestlers Of Faith. 

Brandon Slay’s motto became “Do your best and let God take care of the rest!”

He says, “If we are obedient and doing the natural, God will do the super if it’s according to His Will.”

Pastor Dan Russell says this, “I got to the edge of the mat, I closed my eyes and I asked myself two questions.  I knew if I could answer those two questions correctly, I was a champion.

“The first: Have I, in practice, given 100 percent to be the best I could be with what I have been given?

“If the answer is, ‘Yes,’ the second: Am I willing to go out now and give 100 percent to be the best I can be with what I have been given?

“If the answer is, ‘Yes,’ no matter what the score, you’re a champion. And you’ll win more than you lose.”

When you consider the results of the first wrestling match, it isn’t a surprise to find so many future wrestlers embracing the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  An opponent wrestling for Jesus will stick you the same as any other wrestler, but at least you’ll know going in that they won’t kill you on purpose. 

The important part of religious wrestlers is how they give back to the sport.  They know they are lethal weapons, that they’ve trained their bodies to do extraordinary things.  And they’re willing to show others.

Before you decide to place a pinch of Cope between cheek and gum, or stay out too late doing what you know better than doing, consider the names mentioned here.  Take a look at a list of wrestling greats and see the difference between you and them. 

Hint: it’s more than a win/loss record and the number of medals hanging in a trophy case.


5 thoughts on “Wrestling Spirits

  1. David Gillaspie says:

    Hey Ray,

    Once you learn to overcome things in one place, overcoming things in other places is easier. Thanks for coming in.

    Keep fighting the good fight,


  2. Ray Caldwell says:

    You got that right about brothers who wrestle, as the Bible says, “Iron sharpens iron.” I often kid that the reason I got into wrestling is because I figure, if it is good enough for God, it is good enough for me. In Genesis Chapter 32, the Bible records, “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.”
    Wonderful story of competition and respect,

  3. David Gillaspie says:

    Hello Red Raider,

    My friend, and fellow wrestling dad, and I were talking about faith in wrestling and that conversation went forward. Wrestling is a word non-wrestlers use when they can’t find the word they’re looking for. I try to apply it where it gains meaning. Jesus gets the same treatment in some circles.

    Thanks for coming in, Terry. Hope to see you again.


  4. Terry Thomas says:

    Nice touch on this article. However the first “recorded” wrestling match was with Jacob and an Angel. Much like your tale thee was no referee and the match lasted for hours before an illegal hold stopped the match…

    I wrestled in high school and college at Southern Oregon. I gave my life over to Jesus in high school but came to a strong position at 30. I hope you have too. Based on your writings you must be a man of Faith also.

    Keep up the good words!


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