Tony Ramos, 2014 NCAA champion and Big Ten champion for the University of Iowa who has competed in freestyle since graduation, retired from wrestling during the 2019 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament at North Carolina State University in Raleigh on Saturday.
The 28-year-old Ramos had lost in the 61-kilogram/134-pound semifinals to former Penn State national champion Nico Megaludis. Immediately after the match, Ramos walked to the center of the mat, took off his shoes, and placed them in the center of the mat, the longstanding tradition signifying retirement from active wrestling competition.
Ramos confirmed his retirement on here Sunday:
There are many thank you's to everyone who has been apart of my journey. My family, my coaches, my kids, and my wife have all made huge sacrifices that I can never repay. Thank you for allowing me to give my all but now it is time rest and enjoy being a dad, husband, and coach! pic.twitter.com/rNlKTpHys1�" Anthony Ramos 🐏 (@T_Ram133) May 19, 2019
Ramos also posted a message on his website Monday.
When is it time? That is the hardest question. I love this sport. I love competing. I started my competitive wrestling career 25 years ago with my dad as my coach, my brothers as teammates, and my sister and mom as my fans. Being a wrestler and competitor has defined me basically all of my life. It's been the driving force - the baseline -- and it's not easy to let go of…but my body is slow to recover, my mind is tired, and my motivation is shifting outside of myself and onto my family and my athletes. It was time.
In those 25 years, my community has grown tremendously as evident by the overwhelming response to my news. My family and I are so grateful. In the end, it's not about the wins and losses, it's about the memories, the experiences, and how you impacted those around you. I can't say thank you enough to all involved: the clubs, coaches, sponsors, Hawkeye faithful, Tar Heel fans, and everyone else who has been a part of the journey. You all have taken me in and molded me to the competitor I am. Thank you to the media -- everyone involved has helped tell my story. It takes an army to help leave behind the legacy I have and I am truly grateful for all involved.
Now that it is over, I am not disappointed. I am not upset. I am content. I am content because I know I gave it my all, chased my dream, stayed the course, and was true to myself.
So to all the fans, my family, my friends, and everyone else -- don't be sad that it's over. I'm not. I'm thankful and feel blessed that it happened. I could not be more thankful.
Farewell to the competition - I can't wait to jump into this new phase of life as Coach Ramos.
Born in Chicago in February 1991, Tony Ramos first took up wrestling at age 3 so that he could be on the same team as his two brothers for just one year, according to his bio on his official website. He returned to wrestling in sixth grade, later competing at Glenbard North High in west-suburban Chicago, where he was a three-time Illinois state champ.
Ramos then headed west to Iowa City, where he wrestled for Tom Brands at the University of Iowa. As a Hawkeye, Ramos was a three-time NCAA All-American, winning the 133-pound crown at the 2014 NCAAs. He claimed the Big Ten title that same year, having been a three-time conference championships finalist.
After graduation, Ramos focused his mat career on freestyle. Among the highlights: two-time U.S. World Team member, five-time U.S. National team member, and three-time U.S. Open champ.
In 2016 Ramos joined the staff at the University of North Carolina as the volunteer assistant. He spent two years in this position coaching before being promoted to assistant coach in 2018.
In an InterMat Platinum subscription feature "Takeaways from WTT Challenge Tournament" posted Monday, senior writer Craig Sesker wrote, "Ramos was a tenacious competitor whose trademark was staring down his opponents before the opening whistle. I was fortunate to get to know Tony off the mat and he's a genuinely good dude who's done a lot for the sport. He has become a top-notch coach and will continue to make big contributions to wrestling. Congrats to Tony on a great wrestling career. Well done."