Making Weight for Wrestling
Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the world. From ancient Greece to the Soviet Union, from Tehran to Des Moines, millions of people (mostly men) have trained to compete with others of their same weight to determine who is the best at enduring discomfort, extreme fatigue, and enacting total bodily control over someone else. Nobody doubts that it is extremely difficult. But what many people don’t know is that actual combat isn’t necessarily the hardest element.
For many, making weight is the hardest part. An antiphrasis, “making weight” is actually the exact opposite of what it might sound like. Weight classes are designed to pair competitors with people who are their same size, because even just a few pounds can make a huge difference in a match. In order to obtain whatever slight advantage is to be had, most wrestlers cut down one or more weight classes from their natural weight. This gives them the advantage of being above the weight class limit by the time a tournament actually begins, which can be several hours or even a day after weigh-ins. For the unfamiliar, this could sound like the insane obsessions of a hyper-competitive minority, but it isn’t. Everyone does it. And that’s the really awful part. If everyone cuts down at least one weight class, then anyone who doesn’t do that is at a disadvantage. Thus, many people cut down two weight classes.
But how could this be? How is it done?