The Great Unheard Story: Adam Wheeler
Adam Wheeler’s story is often quoted to the unconfident first year struggling at practice “The last man to medal in Greco for the USA at the olympics went 1-15 as a freshman”. The one line has no doubt helped many relatively green wrestlers dig deep and find the will to improve and work. But there is so much more to the olympian and brazilian jiu jitsu black belt’s story, which has one overarching theme: fighting adversity.
Adam Wheeler does not come from a wrestling family. As a young man, he grew up with economic troubles, as his mother was left alone to care for him and his two siblings. As an infant, he nearly died as a result of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a rare blood disease. Most olympians have been in mat rooms since they could remember, with their dads often coaching practices and bringing the kiddos to expose them to the sport.
Adam wasn’t exposed to wrestling until he was a freshman in high school, having played baseball when he was younger. 1-15 on junior varsity is a record that many first year wrestlers would even scoff at. In addition, Adam strayed away from his schoolwork, getting involved in less than savory activities, eventually resulting in having to change schools, and would eventually make his way back to his first high school to wrestle once again. His junior year, at 37-7, he went to J Robinson’s intensive camp, and would finish his senior year 43-3, barely coming up short of making it to the California State Tournament (a feat in and of itself due to California’s population and lack of divisions).
If you look up Adam’s name, there are two notable achievements that pop up: his no gi bjj world title, and his olympic bronze medal in greco. These aren’t the long lists of your typical olympian, you’d expect stacks of medals from world level competition. Adam’s path to that podium was extremely unconventional. Wrestling for the Navy team after joining the Coast Guard out of high school, he struggled and took his chops as one does when they transition. Eventually, he would make his way to the 2008 Olympic team trials. In greco, the 2007 team lineup had won the team title, a feat not often achieved in greco by the States. In Adam’s bracket was 2007 medalist Jacob Ruiz, the favorite to repeat his spot on the world team. However, Adam pulled out the win to earn his spot at 96 kilograms. He was still, somehow, the least talked about member of the team going into the 2008 games. All this would change as in 2008, only one man from America stood atop the podium to medal in Greco Roman: Adam Wheeler.
Adam has said in interviews and his book that he had periodically dipped into the bjj world throughout highschool. He recounts memories of rolling with his brother after coming back from wrestling practice. Despite later going all in on wrestling to pursue greatness in one sport. He always knew he’d come back to brazilian jiu jitsu, and come back he did. Earning his black belt under Lee Douglas, he now coaches in Colorado.
Adam has multiple instructionals with Fanatic Wrestling, and to have a greco roman wrestler on as high a level as Wheeler available to learn from and study is invaluable for any grappling athlete, never mind just wrestling. The Greco Blueprint, Fundamental Folkstyle Wrestling, and Upper Body Takedowns for Wrestling are all essential for the well rounded wrestler. Greco Roman is a criminally underused style in the USA, and the degree to which it will improve your game in a front headlock, russian tie, bodylock and all the conceivable upper body ties is immense.
Fundamental Folkstyle wrestling covers everything from warming up, to the importance of drilling, to takedowns for upper body and lower body and pinning combinations. The Greco Blueprint is just that: fundamental greco roman wrestling. 2 on 1s, arm drags, par terre offense (which is tough to find a good source for) and it’s on sale for over half off! Finally, Upper Body Takedowns. It does what it says on the tin. Throws, headlocks, arm drags, you name an upper body takedown, it is covered in this DVD. Credentially there isn’t a better Greco wrestler to learn from via Fanatic Wrestling, so don’t miss the opportunity and level up your upper body game today.
Check out the complete Adam Wheeler collection available NOW!