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The Mass Media

Newest Beacons Hall Of Famer Discusses Wrestling Career

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Image provided by Beacons Athletics 

 

 

 

We all know that the Beacons Athletic Department has some great squads.  Men’s hockey, women’s soccer and volleyball are some of our fantastic teams. What you may not know, however, is that Boston State gave us its impressive tradition in a sport we don’t even play anymore, which is the sport of ‘simply’ asserting your control over another person who weighs the same of you, or wrestling.

Boston State’s Warriors had great wrestlers, some enshrined in the National High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.  One of them, Lou Mancini, who wrestled from 1969 to 1973 and never lost a team match, was inducted into the Beacons Hall of Fame earlier this month.

Mancini told about how the Warriors’ wrestling prowess developed.  He said, “We were independent. We wrestled BC, BU, Tufts, Brandeis, and Maine. There was also a state league, so we wrestled all of the state colleges as well. We wrestled just about every school in the area.”

Although the team took on the power schools, they lacked experience. Mancini explained, “I got recruited by Coach Arnie Shaw.  I was the state champion the year before and my friend and I went to watch a match in January of 1968.  He recognized me and said that he wanted to build a wrestling program. I started wrestling later that month, and I was the only one that had high school wrestling experience on the team.” He added “when I first went to Boston State I was used to a really intense high school program, and I went to the first practice and there were 6 people there, and when the first match rolled around there were 12 people there and I had never seen some of the guys before”.

Mancini speculated that Shaw “was trying to build a team, so he’d actually recruit kids out of the weight room to come wrestle for us.  So we went from a rag tag outfit, to having a really decent team by the time I graduated.”

The team’s success can largely be attributed to Mancini, who never lost a match in a dual meet (a match against another college), or indeed any of his matches. Mancini said that he’s very proud of that fact, and he’s also thrilled to be in the newest class of the Beacons Hall of Fame. He called it “a terrific honor for not only me, but for my former teammates.”

Still, he credits the program’s greatest successes to others who came after he graduated. He said “I got in here a couple years after the program started.  When I left, a couple of the guys I recruited, including one of my best friends, had a really good team, one of the top teams in New England.”

After leaving Boston State, Mancini served in the National Guard before settling down to his own sign business.  He still coaches wrestling and cross country at Ashland High School, where the girl’s team won a state title in 2006).

The UMass Boston wrestling team was discontinued in the early ‘90s, but its legacy lives on.  Mancini recalled, “Thirteen or fourteen guys that I wrestled with at Boston State had coached high school wrestling in Massachusetts at one point, and out of those, two of them, Phil Gormley and Gary Chase, are going into the National High School Wrestling Hall of Fame on November third.” He added, “Another person I wrestled with, Bobby Hall, started the wheelchair leg of the Boston Marathon, so there were some really fantastic people that I was involved with.”

Athletes like Mancini are a huge part of UMass Boston athletic history, and perhaps because wrestling is no longer on our campus, it gets overlooked.  But make no mistake: the lives of many young wrestlers were improved by the coaches who started as a ragtag bunch of weightlifters, and grew the program into one of UMB’s most competitive ever.