The desire to become one of the very best along with possibly representing Barbados at the Olympics is among the goals young wrestler Ranico Howard aspires to achieve.
The 21-year-old Barbadian who recently completed his Associate Degree in Rehabilitation Therapy at the Barbados Community College and began his wrestling career seven months ago has a strong passion for wrestling.
Describing the sport as something that consumes his life, Howard was recently identified by Barbados Wrestling Association (BWA) president Rollins Alleyne as the one who will take the sport forward in Barbados.
So, what led to Howard’s path being crossed with the local governing body? It was an advertisement sent out last year on Instagram for interested persons to become wrestlers.
The enthusiastic young man signed up and made his debut last November and as they say, the rest is history. BWA boss Alleyne and national coach Curtis Moise quickly discovered that he was the man.
An avid supporter of combat sports such as World Wrestling Entertainment and Mixed Martial Arts, Howard explained that wrestling was not as violent as the other disciplines but at the same time could be physically demanding.
The dream of most sportspersons is to represent their country on the world stage and for Howard that is no different. In fact, earlier this year he spent ten days competing in Canada at the Pan American Senior Championship in the 70kg. He then went on to represent Barbados at the Olympic Qualifiers in the 75kg which was a good showing for a first-timer.
“I’m very passionate about wrestling, it has gotten to the point where it consumes my thoughts from night to morning. I just watch wrestling, train, and the trip to Canada really ignited that passion and love for it. To see those guys and truly experience what wrestling is, and to see how it is done by those professionals.
“I want to be up there and put Barbados on the map as those others guys do for their countries. It was an amazing opportunity and it really made me enthusiastic about the sport and made me fall in love with the sport even more. Getting to experience such a level of athletes and competitors,” Howard said.
With wrestling being one of the most demanding sports that requires one to be at one’s fittest, most flexible, toughest and strongest, Howard said being around professional wrestlers and international coaches while in Canada was eye-opening to see the level at which wrestling was done outside of Barbados.
“I was very new to it and it was a very eye-opening experience. I hope that we could reach that level someday here in Barbados in terms of facilities, training, equipment and so on,” he said.
The muscular Howard who specialises in a move called the Fireman (where you stoop to get your hands between the opponent’s thighs and on securing that position, lift the individual up, throw them onto their back and secure a pin) explained what training was like with national coach Moise.
He said: “We usually start the morning around 5:30.a.m to go to the gym where we do cardio for 30 minutes to an hour. Then we would do some weights and after that go on the wrestling mat to do the groundwork, conditioning, rolling, taking falls, slams. We do a lot of defence, falls, crawls.”
Like many national athletes, Howard was forced to put his plans on hold in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Pan American Beach Games which were scheduled to take place in Barbados at the end of this month (May 29-31) and the World Games in Finland late October, were two of the main events he had his focus on.
Despite those setbacks, Howard said he always tries to find the positive in everything that might appear negative. Case in point not being able to compete this year has motivated him to keep working harder toward 2021.
“As an athlete, I don’t think we should dwell on the negative, you could always find the silver lining in whatever you do. Even up to this morning I was down at the beach practising because if I were to relax off from training everything I did in Canada would be for nothing, everything I did for the last seven months would be for nothing. Because nothing happening this year does not mean I will not train. I will just reshift my focus and instead of training for the Pan American Games I would train for next year and whatever it brings,” he explained.
Additionally, he said that even though there was the anticipation of representing Barbados at such major tournaments, funding was badly needed.
“I am always dying to represent Barbados but funding is badly needed. I would like to appeal to the powers that be, the public, benefactors, philanthropists that have an interest in the sport or seeing Barbados going far to support us. Support the Barbados Wrestling Association, whether it is coming to our events, whether it is by donating, supporting us in our fundraising efforts.
“It is needed and I do believe that wrestling is a sport that could take Barbados to the Olympics just like track and field did. Just like we had Obadele Thompson, Ryan Brathwaite, I believe that a Barbadian wrestler can get a gold medal for Barbados in the world games or at the Olympics,” Howard said.
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.