Twenty years had passed since Joe Musti last had serious competition on the wrestling mat.
As a result, the then-34-year-old Musti figured he should put forth some kind of effort to get in shape. So around this time last year, Musti began training for the first-ever Bald and Fat Wrestling Tournament, which he created for competitors ages 25 and up in an effort to raise money for the Central York Youth Wrestling Program.
A total of 93 competitors turned out for the event at Central York High School last April. A week later, Musti heard back from a lot of them with complaints of not feeling so well.
"I felt pretty good," Musti said. "I thought I was gonna feel worse but it wasn't too bad. But then again, I tried to get in shape the two or three weeks prior to it."
The tournament raised roughly $4,000 and brought out dozens of fans to cheer on the older grapplers. With so much success in its first year, the Bald and Fat Wrestling Tournament is coming back again next month. And Musti is confident for an even larger turnout.
"I hope we get 150 (competitors)," he said. "I don't know if we'll get quite that many. I know guys who did it last year and didn't feel so good a week after and they passed up on doing it this year."
Changes: There will be some changes to this year's tournament, which is slated for April 7 at Central York High School. While there will still be 10 weight classes ranging from 140 pounds to heavyweight (250 pounds and up), the tourney will have two age divisions.
"The 'Past My Prime Division' is ages 25 to 35 and the 'Dead Division' is 36 and over," Musti said. "This year we had a lot of young guys who wanted to do it who are in their early 20s and I turned them down. I think for next season we'll add that and have three age divisions. All of us old guys don't want to wrestle the young guys."
There will also be a team competition.
"We have a handful of teams coming. I won't know for certain until probably about a week prior to it, but I know there are teams coming from Exeter, Penn Manor, Central York and Garden Spot."
Musti said teams must have at least nine grapplers, each of whom has to have a tie to their school, either by being a former wrestler or current coach for the school or having a child who wrestles for that school.
Preparation: Musti, who has three young sons who wrestle for Central at various levels, will try to improve on his mark from last year's tournament, when he finished fourth among 11 wrestlers in the 160-pound weight class. A 1996 West York grad who last wrestled full-time in the eighth grade, Musti said he and a group of "older guys" have already started preparing for the tournament by practicing a few times a week at an undisclosed location.
While those guys are taking their preparations seriously, the Bald and Fat Tournament is just a chance for former wrestlers to have fun and relive their glory days on the mat, with the proceeds going toward a good cause. It's also surprisingly entertaining to watch.
For information on the tournament, contact Musti at 817-3522 or at email@example.com. A registration fee of $25 is required to participate in the tournament. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.