Oct 1987: Brands Brothers, Rat Martin, Barry Davis

Right now I'm a liability to the Iowa Wrestling program. From their point of view, I'm a 24-year-old from New York who wanted to wrestle for the club, and now that I'm here I can barely keep up with the freshmen. And, what, how much can a 24-year-old possibly improve?

I've been wrestling mostly with Tom and Terry Brands, Martin, Regan, and several of the walk-ons. I'd like to go more with Penrith, Melchiore, and Davis, but I wouldn't do them much good right now.

Tom and Terry are true freshmen. They have the same wrestling style: brawling. I almost duked it out with Tom the first time we wrestled, because he shoved me into the wall after the whistle.

I don't care about politeness, but what is the reason for shoving your teammate into the wall? Unless you are simply an asshole.

Terry is the tougher of the two, at least from my vantage point. He is a 118 pounder, and Tom is 126, but Tom makes more mistakes.

I typically go 50-50 with either of them for the first 20 minutes of wrestling. But they don't get tired. They will almost get your leg, and almost get your leg, and almost get your leg, and eventually they'll get your leg. Then they'll get it again. And again. And again.

It is highly annoying.

We had a "red flag" practice today. That is what they call a really, really grueling practice. As opposed to a regular practice, which is merely grueling.

It was open to the press and the public. Gable handed out black t-shirts to us with our last names on the back, so that the press could identify us.

I went with Rat Martin, and he got the best of me, though I did score on a shoulder throw.

Every week I get a little better.

Nothing worth having is easy. This is not easy.

The guys who are not good enough are mocked. I was wondering why there are not more walk-ons here, why more people--like me, I guess--don't just show up and wrestle, just to be a part of the program. The reason is clear. The bar is high here, and it's about winning. You don't physically get run off, but psychologically. It is clear you are not wanted if you don't perform. It's only been a month, and already there is thinning in the ranks. Two of the walk-on 118-126-pounders that were here last month are not at practice anymore.

What happened to them? Were they killed? Don't ask questions. Keep your head down and wrestle.

I should be 20 instead of 24. So I've wasted some time. It's partly my fault. All-American status in freestyle wrestling isn't going to be easy. It may take a few years. I'm not even in the top 50 in my weight. I've got to get to the top 8, and it gets more competitive, the funnel gets narrower. It's not just a straight shot.

Rat Martin speaks!

He asked me if I have a job. He was wondering because he never sees me downtown at the Field House (a bar). I can't figure that guy out. He always seems so damn moody and distant, then he asks some silly question out of the blue.

I worked at Jim-Changas tonight and hung out in the bar with some of the crew afterwards. I like Jennie the cocktail waitress. I understand her. She'd be even cuter if she didn't use so much f---ing hairspray.

One of the other waitresses, Tobi, asked me, "So what were you doing in New York, walking David Letterman's dog or working for David Letterman or working for Dick Cavett or what?" I said, "All of the above." Then somebody else said, "Yeah, Todd's going to be an Olympic wrestler."

It's an ego trip for people to be interested in you and excited about what you do. But there's so much mixed emotion for me about that. On the one hand, I want to say, "I'm nothing, I've done nothing of importance, I was walking Letterman's dog because I was a f--ing intern for his show when I was at NYU, and I'm here because I want to wrestle but I keep getting my ass kicked by this little butthead 118-pound guy from Virginia whose ass is made out of cement." And on the other hand I want to say, "Yes, I am a multi-faceted personality whose talents span show biz, amateur athletics, and a number of other equally dangerous and noble pursuits."

I got annihilated by Rat Martin today. I got a few points, but he just romped over me. The same f---ing moves: singles and doubles--the singles usually to my left side. Dammit, I've got to correct that.

I have to get up in 5 hours. I got annihilated by Terry Brands yesterday. He just controlled me. My knees are f---ed up today. The frustrating thing is that I think I'm getting better. I know I'm getting better. But, meanwhile, so is everybody else in the room. So I'm kind of treading water at best, and at worst I'm slowing sinking below the surface.

I got my ass kicked by Terry Brands today. He controlled me well. My knee hurts. I'm a little frustrated and in a bad mood right now. I was going to call home but I don't feel like it. I haven't talked to my mom and dad in two weeks.

I'm wrestling next week in the Sunkist Open.

Am I happy? On a scale of 1-10 I'm an 8. I'm poor. My hairline is receding/receeding. I can't afford a dictionary so I can't look up the word receding. I get my ass kicked every day in wrestling practice, which makes me under-confident and insecure. I've got to lose 6 pounds by Friday. My knees hurt.

But I'm young...relatively. I'm in the best physical shape of my life, I'm at Iowa, and I'm going to place at Nationals if it takes me the rest of my life. Plus, I know all the words to "La Bamba," my portable stereo has fresh batteries, and my family loves me even though I never call them.

I leave for Phoenix on Thursday. I'm very apprehensive about the tournament. I've never won a match at a major open tournament. This will be the first time I've competed for the Hawkeye Club, and that is a burden more than a thrill.

Terry Brands got the best of me on Saturday, and again yesterday. I romped over Kennevan today. Lots of tilts, lifts, pries.

I wrestled for about 15 seconds with Barry Davis. I shot a duck-under--a beautiful f---ing duck-under, the best duck-under I had ever done in my life--and he threw me flat on my back. You could hear the thwack on the mat.

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