WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wrestling is a contact sport that places as much emphasis on the physical as it does on the mental.
Coach Charles Knox is teaching the kids lessons about winning on the mat and in life.
“It has been a longtime dream of mine to provide wrestling to the youth of my community,” said Charles Knox, founder of the Team of Hard Knox wrestling club.
His dream came true, but it took some time. Knox started the gym in 1985 and has dedicated nearly four decades to helping young people.
“We want those kids who maybe have a little bit of trouble controlling their anger or controlling their discipline, and let’s show them a different way to come out and say look, here’s a place where you can do and take this, this level of anger and use for your hard work in the wrestling hall,” Knox said.
He is a coach looking for a spark, similar to the one his former coach saw in him.
“The coach lifted me up and said, ‘Hey, you have a lion heart.’ That was the first time I heard him, but I’ve never forgotten those words, and he inspired me when he said, ‘You’re going to be a great wrestler,’” Knox said.
Those words set him on the path to wrestle at the collegiate level and change his life.
“The wrestling thing was when I was sitting in college, that was the first time I had my own bed,” Knox said. “I said I can’t wait to go home. I’m going to tell all my cousins, everyone in my neighborhood, that they can earn a scholarship, eat for free, get an education, and have a bed of their own.”
After competing at Chadron State, he moved back to Wichita and opened his gym.
“We actually started out as the Wichita West Wrestling Club,” Knox said. “One of the guys came up with the idea and he said, hey, why don’t we call each other because the big thing then was Team USA, Team USA, and we said why don’t we call each other team or hard knock school, and it was a catchy phrase. I said mmm, so we decided to go with the Hard Knox Team.
He says the name fits perfectly.
“We are a Hard Knox team; we have to jump over hurdles that other kids don’t. We are looking for and tackling things that other suburbs may not be able to handle or see,” Knox said.
Knox says the key to wrestling is education.
“The key to wrestling is education. We have a guy who comes and talks about anger management, we are hooked up with the shock shop and if you get good grades, we give you free haircut money,” Knox said.
He is proud of his former students who return to help the next generation of athletes.
“We want to continue the success, and one of the things about being a great enabler is that when you leave, it’s handed off to someone else, and they carry on, and we’re trying to make sure that thing lasts another 50 years,” Knox said.