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Orange assistant wrestling coach brings home world games gold me
Orange assistant wrestling coach brings home world games gold medal
By TONY LANGE
The day he returned home from New York City, he went to his credit union to set up an account.
Brandon Perrin, a 1996 Orange High School graduate, will have to save money to defend his world wrestling title.
As a firefighter representing the city of Cleveland's Engine 6, Perrin competed in his first World Police and Fire Games and won the heavyweight gold medal earlier this month. He plans to defend his championship in Belfast, Ireland, in 2013, he said.
"I've got to defend my title. I'm excited for that," Perrin said, who is an assistant wrestling coach at Orange. "Then again, I'm still riding high on the fact that I had a great time up there and winning everything doesn't hurt. It makes it that much more fun."
The WPFG is a biennial Olympic sports competition for full-time firefighters and law enforcement personnel from 70 different countries who compete in 69 sports. About 17,000 competitors were present for the 2011 Games, which were held from Aug. 26 through Sept. 5.
Perrin said his dad, who also was a firefighter, competed in two previous Games and came back each time saying how great the experience alone was. As a semi-pro football player, however, Perrin's schedule didn't add up to allow him to compete in the past, he said.
"But this summer, being that it was in New York City and it was so close to the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, and it's probably not going to get any closer to Cleveland, I had to take a chance and go for it," Perrin said. "So, yeah, I put everything aside and started getting ready to go up there and it was phenomenal."
With Hurricane Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm when it made landfall in New York the morning of Aug. 28, some athletes had their events canceled and didn't get to compete. It was unfortunate, especially for those who travelled pretty far distances, Perrin said, but they were still there and in good spirits.
"It really reminds you why you do what you do," he said. "We're kind of special. We have our own event and it's more than that because we do sacrifice a lot and to just get in there and do the thing we love to do, whatever sport it was, it was a lot of fun-a real complete experience."
Before becoming a firefighter more than a decade ago, Perrine worked security in the Flats for a couple of years, he said. Passing the test on his first attempt, getting hired as a fireman was Perrin's first career move and he has never looked back since, he said.
With 11 years experience, including seven years at Engine 6, Perrin said he has seen many different aspects of people's lives. There are a lot of medical issues people suffer from as a result of not taking care of themselves, he said.
"When people call us, they want us to help and whenever we can, even if it's a little bit, it's gratifying," he said. "It's the smallest medical things that people are having heart attacks from and when you take someone to the hospital with a pulse still beating, those are wins and successful wins."
Starting his assistant coaching position the same year he starting firefighting, this winter will be Perrin's 11th season with his alma mater. While in high school, Perrin played football, wrestled and ran track for the Lions.
After graduating, Perrin said he never thought he would be going back to Orange to coach. But when Albert DiGiovanni asked Perrin to help out as an assistant coach, Perrin could not say no to his former head coach, he said. Perrin needed an extra source of income at the time and his youngest brother was a senior on the team that year, he said.
Coaching is something that someone either wants to do or he or she shouldn't be doing it and it's that simple, Perrin said. His heart has been into coaching during the past 10 seasons and that's why Perrin continues to do it, he said.
It's a blessing in disguise, Perrin said.
"I've been in their shoes and I've been a lot of other places as well. Coming back to this community, I've noticed a lot of times the kids will lose focus of the fact that Orange is a very privileged area," Perrin said. "If I can get one kid to change and get from where I was, which was being a knucklehead, to actually being disciplined and becoming a man, then I've done what I set out to do."
While Perrin is 33 years old, he is constantly training just to keep up with the high school wrestlers at Orange, he said. To prepare for the Games, he did a lot of circuit and anaerobic training to get ready for the two-minute periods, he said.
At the WPFG, Perrin competed in the 30- to 40-year-old age group in the 130 kilograms or less weight class, which converts to about 286.6 pounds. Perrin weighed in at 237 pounds, he said.
In the freestyle wrestling style of international competitions, Perrin said his goal was to practice staying in good position and capitalizing on his opponents' mistakes.
Unlike American high school and college wrestling, freestyle is conducted with a different scoring format where one has to win two out of three periods and there is no running score from period to period. Therefore, it is possible for the losing wrestler to outscore the winner.
While there were only five wrestlers in Perrin's heavyweight class for his age bracket, he still had to wrestle and beat everyone and all his opponents were very competitive, he said.
"That's one of the reasons I really didn't go yelling out the rooftop, like 'Hey, I'm the champ! I'm the champ!' because mind you there was only five of us there," Perrin said.
A lot of the Orange wrestlers will get a kick out of the championship, he said.
"I've been telling them about this all season," Perrin said. "For me to actually come back with a little hardware, it kind of carries a little more than me just talking about it."
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