An interview by Logan Shanks
The setbacks in Richard Perry’s career have not stopped him from the greatness that he has shown on and off the mat. After a late start to the sport, Perry would win two state titles for Middletown High School in Connecticut, which would allow him to wrestle for Bloomsburg University. At Bloomsburg, Perry would post an impressive 110-30 record, qualifying for three NCAA national tournaments. He also notched two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships, and captured the EWL (Eastern Wrestling League) 197-pound title his senior year. Before getting injured in training camp, Perry was one of the best wrestlers in the world, qualifing for the U.S. National team in 2018. Here’s what the Chain Wrestling Legacy Athlete has to say about his career so far:
Q: What made you wanna work with Chain Wrestling?
A: I really liked how Chain Wrestling was created by athletes and how each athlete involved has their own specific style for their collection that reflects them. It’s a brand made by wrestlers for wrestlers; you can’t get much better than that.
Q: Tell me a little about your story as a wrestler and how it made you who you are today?
A: I started to wrestle really late. I didn’t start to wrestle until I was a junior in high school. So with my late start, I had to overcome a lot of adversity; I had to catch up to others who already had 10 years of experience, and if I wanted to be great, I also had to surpass them. In every match, I had to prove myself. Starting so late allowed me to improve with every single match because each one was a learning experience, so when I would wrestle someone at the beginning of the year versus the end of the year, it was like I was a totally different wrestler.
I was blessed to have success pretty early on in my wrestling career which showed me this was something I had potential in. Understanding how quickly I could improve from the beginning of the season showed me that I could be good at wrestling if I continued to stick with it and go all in. It’s like life; we are all at different points with different experiences, backgrounds and advantages/disadvantages, but there is always the possibility for growth if you go all in willing to stay humble and learn along the way. Wrestling taught me how to be disciplined, trust the process, and no matter how “far behind,” if I work hard, I can get there.
Q: How did you decide on your “Overcomer” merch and what do you want it to ultimately stand for?
A: I decided on the Overcomer merchandise simply because the word overcomer depicts me at every level both off and on the mat— high school, college and now senior level. I’ve always had large obstacles to overcome to achieve the things I wanted. It wasn’t until my brain injury in 2018 that I was given the label overcomer. With the hope that just like the obstacles before the injury I would overcome whatever was in my way. My injuries were supposed to take me out, but with the grace of God, even this injury is something I will overcome. The design also pays homage to my regional training center in Philadelphia, the PRTC, and the iconic Love Park. Ultimately, I want to remind those who wear the overcomer gear that there is no mountain too high. I want them to be reminded to have hope, to walk by faith even when the world is saying they can’t.
Q: Who has been your biggest inspiration with all you’ve dealt with both on and off of the mat and why?
A: My biggest inspiration is my family. I want to represent them as a man of great character, hardworking, someone who never takes shortcuts, and someone who always gives full effort in all that I do. Those are the pillars my family values, and it inspires me to live that way to make them proud and to lead by example; not just talk the talk but also walk the walk. I want my three boys and my daughter to one day look back at my journey and be proud of the role model I was for them; I expect them to do great things so I can’t settle. Because what kind of role model would that make me?
Q: What advice would you give to guys in high school and college wrestling?
A: Don’t leave any stone unturned. Give full effort in every practice and situation so you can look back knowing you’ve given it your all and be satisfied with your level of effort; you don’t have to necessarily be satisfied with the result, but rather than have regrets, or play out “what if” situations that linger in the back of your head - giving full effort will ensure that it is your best self competing every time.
Q: What matches stick out to you the most in your career and why?
A: I would say the matches that stick out are the matches I gave full effort regardless if I won or lost. One of those matches is when I wrestled Pat Downey for true third in 2018 to make my 1st National team. I gave full effort from whistle to whistle. It was tough getting out there to wrestle for true third when I had my heart settled on wrestling Taylor for the World Team spot. I was devastated when I lost at WTT and to turn around and refocus on the next best thing was a trial in itself. So putting it all out there, to try to get the next best thing was tough but I listened to my coach and my mentors, and ultimately it paid off. Those are the type of matches I remember the most, even more than the matches that I’ve lost.
Q: Do you do any sort of coaching? If so, what drives you to do that, and how does it feel to give back to the sport of wrestling?
A: I coach when the opportunity presents itself. I coach to help the next generation of guys try to reach their goals because I understand how important a coach that cares is. I’ve been blessed to have great coaches in my corner at every level from my high school coach Mark Fong, college coach John Stutzman, and senior-level coach, Roger Reina and Brandon Slay. These men stepped in to offer guidance both off and on the mat. I didn’t have a father growing up, so these men are exactly that for me—they’ve taught me life lessons, the hard ones, they’ve supported me, poured into me, gave me the same time effort and energy I’ve poured into the sport. Giving back to the sport of wrestling is a reward in itself, to have the opportunity to give back to this sport is a great feeling as I try to inspire and help the next wave of guys. It is something I love to do and hope to do with the same effect my coaches had on me.
Q: If you had to sum up your career in three words what would it be and why?
A: Never backed down. I think it’s important to know that I always faced challenges and adversity willingly. I would seek out tough training partners or tough competition; I never dodged an opponent for any reason. I always looked forward to the challenge because I knew it would make me a better wrestler and a better person.
Q: What has kept you going both now and throughout your career?
A: I kept going and keep going now because I refuse to be satisfied with what I’ve done when I know I have more to give. This has kept me motivated to continue to compete and give it my all in the same way it’s kept me motivated to refuse my fate as someone who should remain in a hospital bed. I couldn’t accept that I would never walk again despite the doctors because I knew I had more to give to my kids and to my family. In the same way, I can’t accept that I’m finished on the mat. Sure, I’ve had a successful career, but I haven’t accomplished some of my major goals, so I am not done yet.
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About the author: Logan Shanks
Logan was part of the Ankeny High School wrestling team from 8th grade until he graduated in 2020. He's currently a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications at Iowa State University. Logan hopes to one day write for a major league sports team and share with the world his thoughts and opinions on multiple sports. More about Logan.