“You have to want to work hard and win just as much as you want to take each breath. To be the best at something, you have to work hard, commit 100% to what you are doing, and sacrifice your time to work toward those goals.” These words came from NCAA wrestling champion and three-time All-American for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Tony Ramos. He inspired nearly 90 youth during a two-day wrestling camp at Milbank High School last week.
For the past nine years, Ramos, a two-time World team member, has conducted youth wrestling camps in smaller communities around the nation. He generally leads 7-10 camps a year. “Kids look up to me, but I try to make them feel comfortable to get over that star-struck feeling. Wrestling is a tight knit family and working with kids at these camps gives me a chance to give back to the sport.”
Ramos explained how he began wrestling at such a young age. “My mom wanted me and my brothers to wrestle together on the same team.” His step-brother, whom he viewed as his full-blood brother, was in eighth grade and his other brother was a year or two older than Tony. “So in order for us to wrestle together, I had to start when I was three.”
In 6th grade, Ramos joined the prestigious Martinez Elite Wrestling Club. In high school, he became a three-time Illinois state champion, winning titles at 112 and 125 pounds and set school records for most takedowns in a career and season and best season record. He also placed 5th at the Junior World Championships.
His number one choice for college was the University of Iowa under the direction of head coach Tom Brands. “Iowa had one of the top wrestling programs in the nations, and I wanted to be part of that.”
While a Hawkeye, Ramos was a two-time NCAA qualifier, winning the 2014 national and Big Ten titles at 133 pounds and was named UI male student-athlete of the year. He was a four-time NCAA qualifier, earning national runner-up honors at 133 pounds in 2013. He recorded a 120-14 career record with the Hawkeyes.
In July 2014, after completing his career at Iowa, he married and planned to take a year off from wrestling before jumping into the international wrestling scene, but his wife encouraged him to enter the World Team Trials. He claimed the 57 kg spot on Team USA. Ramos spent the next year competing around the world and took part in the 2016 wrestling Olympic trials.
Last April, he announced his decision to join Olympic bronze medalist, Coleman Scott, in Chapel Hill, N.C. to continue his training and work at the University of North Carolina as an assistant coach. He said he plans to do some freestyle training camps and looks forward to coaching,
Ramos explained to cut weight and get into peak performance shape, he will go through an intensive six-week training. “I will start another cycle within the international competition. The average age of athletes is 24 and I am 25. It’s tough. Bodies get real beat up and it’s intense. I will just take things year by year and make the most of what happens.”