By Amy Cunningham
With skills learned as a teenager wearing Bronco purple and gold and talent honed at the gym he owns in Lee’s Summit, Travis Conley, 27, formerly of Spring Hill will represent the United States in next month’s World Grappling Competition held in Belgrade, Serbia.
On Aug. 7, Conley, a 2002 SHHS graduate, placed first in gi grappling in the 90 kg weight class at this week’s grappling trials held in Las Vegas, Nev. The win catapulted him into a spot on the U.S. national team.
“I’ve had my eye on it and I thought why not try? Heck there’s a chance I
could go to Serbia and fight for my country,” the long-time wrestler explained his newfound interest in grappling.
He said that representing the United States at such a high level will be the ultimate honor for someone who loves to compete.
“I took advantage of an opportunity to compete –I went (to Las Vegas) to compete and represent my city and now I get to represent my country in Serbia.
According to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) grappling is a hybrid sport comprised of wrestling, jujitsu and other styles of submission fighting. Grapplers use a series of techniques, maneuvers, and counters to physically dominate their opponent. The contest ends when one grappler “submits” or calls for an end to the match.
“It’s basically like getting someone to say ‘uncle’,” Conley said.
There are two divisions dictating dress code for participants. Conley participates in the gi division of the sport where grapplers don a gi – a kimono style jacket. This practice harkens back to grappling’s roots found in sambo, jiu-jitsu and various methods of folk wrestling found around the world.
Conley looks forward to competing against some of the world’s best athletes in just over one month’s time. He said that constant training has prepared him for the challenges he will face.
“I train everyday in jiu-jitsu, I lift everyday, I’m serious about it and I’m in it to win,” he said of his physical readiness, although he is quick to point out the mental toughness it will take to win.
“It’s like a chess match – you have to worry about your mental game. You have to make sure you sharp as far as techniques, it’s about preparation.”
Local wrestler headed to Serbia
By Amy Cunningham