Iron Sharpens Iron: Marine Corps Partners with USA Wrestling to Develop Leaders On, Off the Mat

19 Oct 2023 | Lance Cpl. Brenna Ritchie Marine Corps Recruiting Command

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Marine Corps Recruiting Command partnered with USA Wrestling as they hosted the State Leader’s Summit and Annual Board Meeting from Aug. 9 to Aug. 12 in Colorado Springs. This partnership forges relationships, opens new dialogs and expands the pool of influencers.

The USAW Leadership Summit is an annual gathering of 150 board members, wrestling leaders, coaches, administrators and stakeholders across the nation. It serves as a platform for networking, education and collaboration, offering workshops, panel discussions and interactive sessions on topics related to wrestling and leadership. The Marines attending this event brought awareness to the resources the partnership produces, as well as educating the coaches on the benefits the Marine Corps can bring to their student-athletes.

During the event, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Brian Kiraly, the director of the martial arts fitness center of excellence at The Basic School in Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, gave a presentation illustrating how Marines and wrestlers share a common trait of an indomitable fighting spirit, showing a willingness to engage and determination to win.

“For all of us in the room, we all know that there’s a breaking point, and oftentimes, you need to hit that breaking point to realize that it’s not about me, it’s about the team,” said Kiraly. Kiraly was enlisted in the Marine Corps before commissioning to become an officer. “[And so] in boot camp, with the wrestling background, I’d think to myself, ‘you can’t ever break me. You can’t do worse to me than I’ve already had done.’”

Also speaking at this event was U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jalissa Harkins, officer selection officer in Denver. Harkins became a marine at the age of 28, and discussed the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

“They [Martial Arts Instructors] teach you how to ground fight, and how to get that fighting warrior spirit,” said Harkins. “High school athletes tend to already have that mentality, and they can carry that into the Marine Corps in order to excel.”

Harkins grew up in Dallas, Texas and Kiraly was raised in Perrysburg, Ohio. They came from different backgrounds and decided to further their careers with the Marine Corps.

“Everybody is looking for a challenge,” said Harkins. “Especially coming out of COVID, people are hunting for that will inside. Personally, I take it as my job to pull that out of as many people as possible. The Marine Corps has given me that sort of drive, and I want you all to pull that out of your students and wrestlers too.”

The partnership was officially initiated in 2017. Since then, the Marine Corps and USAW have strengthened relationships with the wrestling community to showcase the Marine Corps’ purpose, values and service opportunities.

More Media

Marine Corps Recruiting Command