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Wrestling States
Why Are Some States Dominant in Wrestling?

White Working Class asked on You Tube

I was wondering if you have any theories on why Pennsylvania is such a dominant wrestling state?

Thanks for the question. You look like a wrestler yourself.

I don’t have a theory, though I knew it was a reality. My cousin wrestled in Maryland and then in PA and he told me how much of a level up it was. Since I sucked in MD, I didn’t even bother in PA. My instinct is it has to do with small towns and rural counties and that states with better wrestlers will tend to have a higher percentage of folks living outside of major metropolitan areas.

Honestly, I did not know that Pennsylvania was number 1. I would have guessed #3.

The study by Jason Bryant below assigned points per state in 2011.

I am seeing Pennsylvania as the largest Eastern State to only have two sizable cities, so I think my hunch that the more small communities you have the more wrestling you have is on there. New York has five big cities jammed into one metropolitan area.

However, I am seeing something else to.

We are looking at migratory patterns.

Note that Ohio, Illinois [who crushed it last year] Indiana, and Oklahoma, all in the top 10 and Missouri, Kansas received the bulk of their 18th and 19th century Gaelic immigrants via the Ohio and Pennsylvania, and that New Jersey shared the same forced immigration patterns in the 1600s and 1700s that neighboring Pennsylvania did. Indeed, runaway Irish Pennsylvania chattel often hid out in Jersey.

Also, the intersecting migratory pattern of Scandinavian immigration via the Great Lakes and points west [with Norwegian Mormons strong in Northern Utah] links Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Nevada.

My opinion is that since wrestling has been a localized rural tradition since before the beginning of history, that it tends to be lost in large cities and suburban sprawl and thrives in places where great expanses and rugged mountains encourage localization of community. As for Pennsylvania, my bet is that those approximately 1 million Irish and Scottish souls trafficked into Penn’s Woods over a ninety year span by the Quaker scum who founded the state, provided a strong wrestling bloodline.

The table below is copied from Mister Bryant’s article.

Overall Top 25 High School Wrestling States

(Average of “Total Depth” and “Wrestling Crazy”)

1. Pennsylvania 96.2

2. Iowa 80.0

3. Minnesota 70.6

4. Ohio 70.4

5. Illinois 60.5

6. California 42.7

7. Oklahoma 41.6

8. New Jersey 37.3

9. Indiana 35.4

10. Michigan 31.7

11. Wisconsin 30.0

12. Nebraska 29.2

13. Oregon 28.4

14. Missouri 27.6

15. Virginia 26.0

16. Maryland 21.5

17. Florida 20.6

18. Nevada 15.1

19. Georgia 14.8

20. Washington 14.5

21. New York 10.7

22. Kansas 10.2

23. North Carolina 8.0

24. Texas 6.2

25. Tennessee 6.1

Read more below:

Being a Bad Man in a Worse World

Fighting Smart: Boxing, Agonistics & Survival

Add Comment
ShepApril 28, 2018 4:46 PM UTC

Wrestling is 90% just plain hard work. Kids from rural areas traditionally grow up bucking bales, digging ditches, lifting, carrying, and pulling. That is the kind of work that builds a wrestler's body, and more important, it provides a cultural ethic of tenacity and grit.
Joshua Taylor (white working class)April 28, 2018 11:39 AM UTC

Also as another example of Pennsylvania wrestling dominance, I remember in the area where i grew up there was a kid who was an Indiana state wrestling champion as a freshmen and then he moved to state college Pennsylvania and never placed higher than 5th. We also have a tournament called the "Dapper Dan" where Pennsylvania fields their all star team and they compete against the all stars of the entire country.
Joshua Taylor (white working class)April 28, 2018 11:09 AM UTC

Thanks for addressing my question! Interesting hypothesis, makes sense, however Pennsylvania is predominantly Germanic, but yes many of those Germans are mixed with gaelic stock as well. I did wrestle in highschool btw and played football. Looking back on those days I wish i would have dropped football and focused solely on combat sports, but hindsight is always 20/20... Thanks again James I love what you do!
responds:April 30, 2018 2:09 AM UTC

From 1700 through 1800 most Pennsylvanians were Irish and Scottish slaves. The names of the property owners and big wigs were mostly Germanic. Most of these Gaels moved west as soon as they got free.