ARDSLEY, N.Y. -- Mike Murray was taking all the good-natured kidding from friends and his fellow firefighters in stride.
My colleagues were busting my chops asking me why I am not going for it, said Murray, a Fairview Fire Department firefighter. Then my friends were telling me I didnt have it in me to wrestle again.
Once Murray heard that, he accepted the challenge. Murray, a three-time Section 1 small-school wrestling champion, will return to the wrestling mat in the World Police and Fire Games in New York City. The competition, which features 14 sports, will be held Monday through Monday, Aug. 5 at the Jacob Javits Center.
The 22-year-old Murray won three consecutive sectional titles from 2004-06 and finished sixth in the state, at 96 pounds, in 2004. Murray has been an assistant at his alma mater and is currently the Woodlands varsity assistant wrestling coach to fellow three-time Section 1 champion, Jason Parker.
Murray registered for the 63-kilogram weight class, or 138 pounds. When he began training last December, he weighed 160 pounds.
Coaching is one thing, but getting back on the mat was good, said Murray, in his third year with the department. I missed it, but I definitely didnt miss cutting the weight.
Even though he dreaded cutting weight, Murray went about it smart. Beginning in January, he said he began dieting to shed the weight progressively.
Now I am down to the last two or three pounds and that is always the toughest, Murray said. I also had to relearn the rules for freestyle and Greco-Roman.
Before Murray began training for this competition, he said he kept himself in shape.
I was at the gym three to four days a week and I am always running, but I had to get myself back into wrestling shape, Murray said. The first couple of times back on the mat was tough. I was going to wrestle at the New York Athletic Club and I was also wrestling with Penn (Gottfried) and Danny (Manley), might high school teammates. Then I went out and bought a 10 by 10 wrestling mat. After about two weeks of wrestling, it came back and I was back into it.
Not only is Murray competing this week, he is planning on participating in the 2013 World Police and Fire Games in Belfast, Ireland.
Wrestling, in my opinion, is really the greatest sport, Murray said. I love team sports, dont get me wrong, but with wrestling its all on you, the wrestler.
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