Italian Olympian trains with Horde wrestlers

At times, a different perspective can do wonders for anyone.

For Steve Palmer’s wrestling team that different perspective came from guest coach Michele Liuzzi Nov. 16. 

Liuzzi, an Italian wrestler and coach, is a two-time Olympian who has been on the world team 12 times and has a second place finish at the European championships to his credit. Liuzzi came to the United States through a coaching exchange program affiliated with the Journeyman Wrestling program.

Palmer said having a world-class athlete in the wrestling room was great for the team, not just for the differing perspective, but because his stature within the sports helps some of the wrestlers sit up and take notice.

The coach compared him to other international sports stars like David Beckham or Michael Jordan.

Because Granville has been so supportive of the Journeyman program, Palmer said the team was on a short list when Liuzzi decided to stay on in the states for a while and do more in-depth clinics with smaller groups. Frank Popolizio one of the owners of Journeyman Wrestling contacted Palmer who gladly accepted the offer. 

“We had an opportunity when Liuzzi chose to stay in the country for a few weeks,” he said.

Although some of the wrestlers had already seen what Liuzzi brings to the mat, Palmer said it was the more personal time with just one team versus a big clinic that made the difference.

With Liuzzi in the wrestling room it brings one-on-one feedback and instruction from an Olympian versus at the clinic where it was a large number of kids all at once, Palmer said. 

Liuzzi, despite a bit of a language barrier was able to watch the wrestlers and make corrections as they tried the new variations he was showing them of a move known as the inside trip.

“Our guys were really getting the one-on-one with him and that was the added touch,” Palmer said. Palmer said he had seen the use of the inside trip and thought it was unusual, but after the time on the mat he was buying in to Liuzzi’s perspective.

“It’s adding to our arsenal.” Palmer said.

In the same way he encourages his athletes on the mat to improvise and outthink opponents as well as out-wrestle them, Palmer found a way around the language barrier through his wife Victoria. Although Victoria Palmer said she couldn’t recall much Italian after not using the language for a number of years she was able to speak with Liuzzi in Spanish and then translate.

The two-hour practice time went by quickly as the team was shown move after move with variations they hadn’t seen before.

Afterwards Golden Horde wrestlers said they looking forward to using what they had learned on the mat.

At least one said he’d been a bit intimidated, but found the pressure motivational. “It’s a lot different than folk style, regular wrestling; when he was working with me, showing everybody the moves, I’d get so nervous sometimes I’d mess up and then he’d be sarcastic like ‘grrrrr’ so it was a little nerve racking. I didn’t know what to expect,” wrestler Damian Duffy said.

Wrestlers Liuzzi worked with as partners during the demonstrations each agreed he brought a unique style that most Americans don’t seen which should provide them with some advantage.

“It was pretty cool; the inside trip is definitely his key move that nobody around here uses — it’s like using your body against you,” wrestler Hayden Miller said.

“He showed us a lot of moves and techniques we can use off of different series,” Nathaniel Palmer said. 

 

*See video of Luizzi working with Granville wrestlers and a short interview in the video section of this site.

 

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