Colorado High School Wrestler Forfeits Tournament for Chivalry

Miguel Moreno
By Miguel Moreno
March 4, 2019Sports News
Colorado High School Wrestler Forfeits Tournament for Chivalry
Colorado Army National Guard Soldiers in the World Class Athlete Program compete in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Dave Schultz Memorial International championship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 31, 2013. (2nd Lt. Skye A. Robinson/Army National Guard)

A high school wrestler forfeited the Colorado state tournament due to matches against female opponents on Feb. 21 and Feb. 23. His reason for forfeiting: chivalry.

“I’m not really comfortable with a couple of things with wrestling a girl,” Brendan Johnston told the Denver Post after forfeiting to junior female contender Angel Rios in the 2019 Colorado High School Activities State Wrestling Tournament on Feb. 23. “I don’t want to treat a young lady like that on the mat. Or off the mat. And not to disrespect the heart or the effort that she’s put in.”

Johnston is an 18-year-old senior at The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs. During his senior season of wrestling, out of 43 matches, he lost six, according to the Denver Post. Five of those losses were forfeits, with four of them to Rios.

Rios finished in fourth place after Johnston’s forfeit and Jaslynn Gallegos—another female competitor that Johnston forfeited against on Feb. 21—ranked fifth place. Rios and Gallegos made history as the first women to rank in the tournament. Johnston’s decision to forfeit twice at the Class 3A tournament effectively eliminated himself from the competition that he has a likely chance of winning.

Moral Values Triumph the Trophy

Johnston, who believes that men and women are equal but created differently, has not wrestled a female since he started grappling opponents in the 7th grade, according to Daily Mail. And he doesn’t regret his decision, though it ended his high school career.

“Wrestling is something we do, it’s not what we are,” Johnston told the Denver Post. “And there are more important things to me than my wrestling. And I’m willing to have those priorities.”

In last year’s tournament, Johnston also forfeited the match against female freshman Cayden Condit. His coach Sean Collins said, “He has done that consistently in the past,” according to The Gazette.

The CHSAA assistant commissioner Ernie Derrera told The Denver Post, “You’ve got to respect his personal decision to do what he did, and standing on his principles … And I think there’s a bigger lesson there than wrestling.”

Rios Understood the Decision

Though Rios was disappointed by Johnston’s forfeiting, KDVR reported that there was no bad blood between the two. Rios has been a wrestler for 15 years, raised among three brothers who were also wrestlers.

Rios hopes that her success reaches other girls. She told KDVR, “I’m hoping it motivates them to be the best they can.”

Although this was the end of Johnston’s High School wrestling career, it isn’t all over. Johnston said he’s thinking about wrestling in college, according to The Denver Post.

Wrestling in the United States

When the first Europeans arrived at North America, Native Americans would already wrestle as a sport, according to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. What started as local fights gradually transformed into a legitimate sport.

Wrestling was popular long before people gained a big interest in boxing, which became popular in the 19th century. Among renowned wrestlers are Abraham Lincoln, who lost only one match in approximately 300, according to

In Carl Sandburg’s biography of Lincoln, the former president was quoted speaking to a crowd after dealing with his opponent: “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.”

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