The Main Stream

Aug 4, 2012 2:00 AM

5-year-old wrestler has Olympic dreams

The U.S. Wrestling Team took home a gold and two bronze medals back in 2008 and it is hoping to do even better in this year's London games. Cheering the team on is a Tucson boy, who just happens to be one of the best wrestlers in the state.

Che Jenkins is crazy about wrestling. He is also very good, a Triple Crown winner in fact. That is a huge accomplishment considering he is only five years old!

On the mat, Che Jenkins is focused on his opponent, quickly grabbing his rival's leg and slamming him to the ground. It is these kinds of moves that earned him the National and State Champion titles. He proudly shows off his hard-earned medals.

"I'm great at wrestling and I like wrestling," Jenkins said.

He is dedicated too, practicing and training five days a week at the Tucson Unlimited Freestyle Academy, also known as TUF.

"Our model here at TUF Wrestling is we're creating life champions, not wrestling champions," said Coach Aaron Anaya.

Anaya says the program builds more than physical strength, it also builds character, boosts work ethic and gives kids a strong foundation for life.

"It taught me how to be respectful, how to be strong and great," Jenkins said.

He may be young but Che's mom can see the confidence growing within her son.

"He's very disciplined, he's very motivated, he's competent," said Christina Roman Jenkins.

She says those traits will help Che achieve his ultimate goa of wrestling in the Olympics.

"The idea that he believes in himself enough, to care about something enough, to give 100 percent is everything I hope for," Christina said.

Che plans to keep training as much as he can, and he has a message for other kids who might be interested in hitting the mats.

"If they come, they'll like it, and come again," he said.

Local sponsors and donors help keep the TUF Academy going. It also accepts at-risk kids. To learn more about the program, click here.


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