Tri-Titan writer Pablo Di Maria got the opportunity to speak to 12x National Champion Domenic Munaretto who competes in the state of Illinois. While discussing the different styles of wrestling, Domenic spoke about the love of wrestling and what kind of dedication it takes to become the best. Also, Domenic spoke to us about his relationship with JoJo Armstrong, who was taken away from us to soon, and his adversities that have helped him grow into the person he is today.
Di Maria- At what age did you begin wrestling? And for what club?
Domenic - I started wrestling when I was five years old for the Golden Eagles Wrestling Club.
Di Maria – You placed 7th at the Tallinn Open, Estonia. How was it wrestling kids from Russia and other nations?
Domenic - It was very good for me to learn how kids from other countries wrestle in the Olympic styles. In the U.S. we wrestle all 3 styles (Folkstyle, Freestyle & Greco) with folkstyle being the main focus. In Estonia, I learned that they are very focused at a very young age. The kids, who wrestle Greco, generally wrestle Greco and the same goes for freestyle. The hardest part for me last year was that I was too light for the lightest weight in my age group and had to work very hard just to make the minimum required weight to wrestle or I would not have been able to participate in the tournament. The second hardest thing was adapting to their style which was a lot different than what I was accustom to. Also, the fact that the tournament was basically at the end of the folkstyle season in the U.S. and the very beginning of the Greco/Freestyle season, so I was underprepared as we were just beginning our training when I left.
Di Maria– You had great success in Greco-Roman, is Greco your favorite style to compete in?
Domenic - No, Folkstyle is my favorite style but I also really like Greco as I am very good at controlling ties and Greco allows me to focus on what someone is doing from the waist up. It’s also nice to know that they can’t shoot on my legs!! LOL!! My long-term goal with wrestling is to be an Olympic Gold Medalist, so focusing on the Olympic Styles is becoming my focus more and more.
Di Maria – You’re a 12x National Champion, what does it take to get to that level?
Domenic - It takes hard work and grit and the ability to be comfortable in uncomfortable positions. It takes a lot to be able to get good in uncomfortable positions, and that is where I thrive. Getting good does not come easy and it has not been easy for me. I took 2nd at every single national event (6 of them to be exact) up until when I won Tulsa Nationals 2 years ago. When I won, my dad asked me if I would trade the Eagle for the 6-runner up’s becoming 6 titles, my answer was Never!! Those losses were steppingstones to a much greater National Title and one that would have likely not happened had those losses not made me work harder and dig deeper. I was brought up under the thought that you can accomplish anything you want in life, if you are willing to put in the work, but if you work is not matching your goals, then you need to reevaluate your goals or reevaluate your work ethic because what you can do comes from talk and what you do comes from your actions. I always say, “I can and I will…..” but my work ethic has to match my talk or it’s just talk.
Di Maria – You are seen wearing a JoJo Strong singlet often when you wrestle tournaments, did you know JoJo well?
Domenic - I, unfortunately, did not know JoJo well, but I knew who he was, and he was an incredible wrestler so I like to bring him with me spiritually as I know how much he loved the sport of wrestling. It was so sad that his life was taken so soon and I just feel obligated to help keep his memory alive and wearing the singlet gets a lot of people asking about who is on my singlet and I get to tell them that he was an amazing wrestler and I feel like that is a way to keep him alive thru people talking about him. I actually got to meet his dad and have dinner with him in Chicago over the summer and it was such an amazing thing to meet him and talk about JoJo and the rest of their family and it just made me want to wear my JoJo Strong gear more often.
Di Maria – What has been the most memorable wrestling experience?
Domenic - My most memorable experience would have to be wrestling in Estonia with Olympic level coaching like Gold Medalist Ben Peterson and World Team members from Hungary & Italy. My most memorable wrestling accomplishment, however, would have to be winning Tulsa Nationals.
Di Maria– Where do you currently train at the moment?
Domenic - I currently train with Mike Rundell at The Wrestling Academy and with Lucas Steldt at Combat Wrestling for Greco.
Di Maria – What major adversities have you had throughout your career?
Domenic - I’ve had more adversities than I’d like to, but they have all contributed to making me stronger. Since I was about one, I have suffered from anaphylaxis allergies and had to have weekly injections for years which was very uncomfortable as they would inject allergens into both of my arms and then I would have to sit in a chair for 30 minutes so that they could monitor my reactions to make sure I didn’t have a reaction worse than swelling at the injection site. I would get asthma attacks out of nowhere along with itchy rashes all the time, it was horrible and had a scare once where I couldn’t breathe and had to be given an Epinephrine shot and taken to the hospital.
I was also diagnosed with ADHD when I was in 1st grade and had to take medicine to get me to focus in class. I had a hard time in elementary school and had to be at a standing desk and had to work hard to remain on task. After 5th grade, we decided to stop with the medicine and try it out in my new school without it. I have been on the Honor Roll every trimester since starting middle school and have been able to work past the hurdle that was put in front of me, I believe because I have figured out how to get comfortable in uncomfortable positions and I just decided that I was going to control my mind and not let it control me.
One of the most painful adversities, however, is my size. I am smaller than everyone and have a hard time growing and gaining weight, so I have to wrestle up a lot, like in Estonia. Last year at Tulsa Nationals other kids were cutting 5-10 pounds while I was trying to get over 60lbs when the lowest bracket weight was 64lbs. My mom and dad even stopped for milkshakes on the way to the weigh-in and I still barely got to 60lbs. I didn’t get to participate in a lot of dual meets last year because my parents wouldn’t commit to weight classes in advance as they wanted to focus on my growth which is more important but still makes me sad to have to miss out on these opportunities.
Lastly, my most recent adversity would have to be the realization that the better you get and the more success you have, the bigger that the target on your back becomes, but that kind of stuff just makes me focus that much more and work that much harder so for that I am grateful.
Di Maria – What does it mean to be a Tri-Titan O3T student-athlete?
Domenic - It means so much to me as it focuses me even more on making sure to keep up with my work in school but at the same time be able to get hard work in every day so that you can become a better wrestler, but not at the expense of my grades as my parents won’t let me wrestle or travel for wrestling if my grades are not A’s and B’s. It also means that I have to be socially responsible and think about not only myself but others around me and those worse off than I am or struggling in places that I may be able to help. My parents taught me to always help others in need and my dad stops to help anyone he can whether it’s pushing a car or giving money to someone, and I think of the O3T student-athlete as a badge of honor that I have been given and I try to live up to it every day. I’ve given private lessons in my house for younger wrestlers who look up to me and enjoy helping other people progress in the sport of wrestling. I don’t like wrestling; I love it with all of my heart and I just want to help make the sport grow and gain experiences by traveling the World and learning from other cultures and other wrestlers.