Nowhere is it written that the meek shall inherit the City Section wrestling championship.
In fact, quite the opposite is probably scrawled on the walls of musty wrestling rooms everywhere. Those who are meek on the mat end up flat on their back. Or back in study hall.
All of which makes the story of the Brothers Ramirez more intriguing. For Guillermo and Oswaldo, two wary wrestlers from San Fernando High, are no longer timid, have never left the study hall, and today will compete in the state championships in Stockton.
It had seemed unlikely that the Ramirezes, the unlikeliest of champions, would become the first brothers to win City Section titles in the same year. Oswaldo, a sophomore in his first year in the sport, won his championship in the 98-pound weight class after going 1-18 in summer leagues and 10-7 in the regular season.
His older brother Guillermo, the 119-pound champion, was fourth in the City as a sophomore and third as a junior.
“They both have the same personality,” San Fernando Coach Sam De John said. “Very quiet. Very unassuming. Gentlemen.
“They are both so mild-mannered that it took me a long time for me to get across the aggressiveness. Then, the last two or three weeks of the season, they got relentless. It finally got across to them what I was talking about.”
It took Guillermo, known by his middle name of Ulysses to family and friends, a couple of years longer than Oswaldo, better known around San Fernando as Ossie. Guillermo is brutally honest about his condition two years ago.
“I was a big wimp when I first came here,” he said. “I couldn’t bench 50 pounds. I told Ossie, if you’re going to join here you’d better start weight training.”
Said Oswaldo: “He has more experience now, and I listen to his advice.”
Oswaldo apparently learns quickly.
“I don’t quit no more,” he said. “Before, I’d get under pressure and just fold. I’d get on my back and quit. Now I fight back.”
The Ramirezes are bused from their home in East Los Angeles to San Fernando, where they are both enrolled in the advanced magnet program for college preparation. It makes for long days that start when the alarm goes off at 5:40 each morning. But their grades are good and their wrestling is better.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Guillermo said. “We get home and we’re tired. We don’t get to eat. We just take a shower and go to sleep.
“If you don’t get to bed by 8:30, you don’t get eight hours of sleep.”
The hours of sacrifice led to Thursday morning, when, dressed in their Sunday best, the Ramirezes boarded a plane and headed to University of the Pacific. That is where the state’s best wrestlers are convening for matches that start today and continue through Saturday evening. Not many have the same temperament as Guillermo and Oswaldo, but that’s all right with the Ramirezes, who refuse to be intimidated.
“We want to prove them wrong,” Guillermo said. “We’re not going to look at them like they’re better than us.”
Or more aggressive.
San Fernando’s Javier Ramirez, no relation, and Phil Guerrero also qualified, at 132 and 191 pounds, respectively.
Other Valley-area wrestlers who have qualified for state include Greg McMurray (112), Scott Spindel (145), Roy Steinbock (154) and Primitivo Ortiz (175) from El Camino Real and Steve Pratt (126) and Frank Lopez (138) from Canoga Park.
Of the Southern Section participants, Channel Islands’ T. R. Merickel (126), Rio Mesa’s Robby Cook (132) and Tony Flores (191), Newbury Park’s Chris Kilbane (154) and Westlake’s Billy Hunter (175) qualified in the Masters meet.
Cook won his class, Hunter and Kilbane were second.