It was 1980 and I was going to Northern Arizona University. While there I had joined a fraternity and we competed in the university intramurals.
Our fraternity was close to first place and needed all the points we could get. It was time for wrestling and there weren’t many guys that had wrestled. I hadn’t wrestled in High School, but my dad had been a wrestling coach and my brother was a champion wrestler, so you couldn’t live in my house and not know something about it.
I knew enough that you had to be a fool, to be in the shape I was in, and get in the ring with a real wrestler.
He would put my arm and leg in places they don't belong or fit. When the fraternity asked me to wrestle, I told them no way. But then they told me that no one would be there, and they didn’t expect me to win.
All I needed to do was throw the match and they would still get one point.
Well, I don’t mind being a fool as long as no one is there watching. I found myself headed for the women’s gym on a Saturday morning. There were over 300 guys wrestling and they had pulled out the bleachers and there were hundreds of people filling them.
What was worse was when I saw the guy I was wrestling with. I knew I was in big trouble.
He had been a champion wrestler in High School. Most of him showed in his chest while mine was drifting lower. He had the funny high topped tennis shoes that real wrestlers wear to protect their ankles. He was also wearing the ear protectors that real wrestlers wear. I knew I was in way over my head.
My one strategy was to implement my idea of how to win. I call it the spider.
The match starts as the wrestlers match off and go for each other. I’m a big guy and I decided to do something radical. We got on the mat but when they blew the whistle to start the match I didn't try to grab him, but instead jumped into the middle of the mat and spread my arms and legs (like a spider) and just lay there. At first, he jumped back and was stunned to just see me laying there smiling at him.
He finally jumped on my back and started to try to turn me over.
It's hard though to turn a guy as big as me. He’s grabbing an arm and then a leg. I’m freaking out and start to crawl toward the edge of the mat. I reach the edge and they make me go back to the middle and I do the spider again.
Finally, the period comes to an end. I felt like it had lasted at least an hour, but I think it was three minutes.
I started the second period with him on top. He’s embarrassed he hasn’t already killed me and is whispering in my ear the horrible things he was going to do to me. I wasn’t sure what they all were, but I knew they involved a lot of pain. When they blew the whistle, I exploded out of there and got an escape. I earned the point. By the end of the period, I can hardly breathe and I’m seeing spots.
I got into position for the last round but I’m so tired I almost just rolled onto my back and surrendered.
When they told us to start, I was caught by surprise when my opponent fell on his stomach and trapped my arm under him. It was then I realized he was as tired as I was. We were both laying there trying to breathe and the referee came over and kicked us, directing us to move.
During the match, about 25 of my friends had come and surrounded the mat and were cheering me on. It was then that I heard them start to chant, “Simpkins, Simpkins, Simpkins turn him, turn him!”
The crowd had started to watch and they joined in the chant. Nobody could believe I was still in the match.
This was like the Pillsbury doughboy defeating Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The building was shaking as the crowd chanted my name, and it was then that new strength flowed into my body. I grabbed his arm and turned him and pinned him. I won.
I was so exhausted a couple of guys had to carry me to a corner where I just tried to breathe, but I had won.
To this I say; The Bible tells us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12).
We are in a wrestling match with the devil, and we are to put on our full armor. When we’ve done everything, we can to “Stand.” Here is Simpkins translation,
“Do the Spider.”
Spread your arms and legs and hold on. It’s then we will hear the chant of the angels in heaven (HEB 12:1): and the devil will wear himself out trying to defeat you.
Pastor, Author, Teacher
You can reach Ron Simpkins at: firstname.lastname@example.org