Many dream of earning a championship title, but few will.
Camp Pendleton Gunnery Sgt. Ignacio Ramirezlazos shattered the glass roof of this dream last year after his son inspired him to wrestle his way to the top.
“It’s pretty hard to be a single dad in the Marine Corps,” said Ramirezlazos, who currently serves as the training staff noncommissioned officer, Installation Personnel Administration Center, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. “I did it to set the example for my son and to show him that the patience and discipline wrestling teaches you will get you a long way.”
Ramirezlazos’ championship journey began in February of 2007, after criticism from his son rekindled his childhood gold medal aspirations. Seven-year-old Marco was competing in a local winter tournament when his father expressed his disappointment.
“I remember telling him to stop slacking and give it more effort,” said Ramirezlazos. “He had pinned the kid several times before and was close to beating him again.”
After the match, his son Marco stopped, turned to his father and said, “You are not the one out there wrestling.” Ramirezlazos fell silent. From then on he knew he would have to lead by example, explained Ramirezlazos.
Ramirezlazos joined the Marine Corps right out of high school, and was now returning to the mat 15 years later. The former high school wrestler began competing at local tournaments and found nothing less than discouragement.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to show up to the next match,” said 34-year-old Ramirezlazos. “I was wrestling college students that were fresh from high school.”
He pushed forward though and spent a majority of 2008 competing at local tournaments fine-tuning his techniques. At the urging of his friends, Ramirezlazos registered for the 2009 USAA National Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas the following year.
Ramirezlazos entered the 152-pound weight class and competed in both Veteran Freestyle and Greco Roman categories. Contenders were scored on the best of three matches. Ramirezlazos lost his first match.
With victory now unlikely and nothing to lose, he shook off his nervous jitters and dominated his next opponent. Ramirezlazos continued into the finals and after a riveting first-round rematch, he won the wrestling championship for his weight class. This win qualified him in both categories for the Olympic World Wrestling Championship competitions in Turkey and Sweden.
Ramirezlazos was unable to attend the Olympic wrestling competitions, but felt just being able to say that he made it was enough for himself and his son.
“It’s awesome that my dad made it to the world championship,” said Marco. “I hope one day I can make it there too.”
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