WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – On a Thursday night, on the bottom floor of Dellrose United Methodist, it’s not unusual to see upwards of 30 to 40 kids converging on the wrestling mat.
It is here where Charles Knox, a coach and founder of Team of Hard Knox holds practice.
Knox spends nights like this helping young athletes perfect and sharpen their technique when it comes to wrestling.
Interestingly enough, wrestling wasn’t the sport Knox thought he would get into.
“I always thought I was going to be an NFL football player,” said Knox.
After being cut from the sophomore football team at Wichita West High School, a coach suggested to Knox that he might want to give wrestling a try.
“I always thought when he said wrestling, I was thinking of what we call today, WWE,” said Knox.
It didn’t take him long to realize that wrestling was the sport for him.
“I got in that wrestling room, and immediately, I fell in love with it,” said Knox.
Standing just 5’4″, Knox wrestled in the 98, 105 and 112 weight classes in high school. His best finish came his sophomore year when he finished fourth at state.
Knox would ultimately receive a chance to wrestle at Garden City Community College, before deciding to transfer to Chadron State.
“At Chardron, I was a varsity, 118-pounder, two-time NAIA qualifier,” said Knox.
After college, Knox founded the Team of Hard Knox and began coaching in the winter of 1985. He realized early on that coaching was where his heart was after one of his kids won a match.
“He runs over to me and jumps up in my lap and says coach can you believe what I done, and I could feel it, it was like I was actually out there in the match, like yeah, you did it, you did it, woohoo,” said Knox.
In 34 years, the list is long when it comes to decorated wrestlers that Knox has helped groom.
You have Daniel DeShazer, who was the first two-time state champion for Wichita West High School.
Knox also coached Kendric Maple, who was an All-American at the University of Oklahoma.
His latest success story is rising sophomore Quentin Saunders from Wichita West High School, who won a 6A/5A state title this year as a freshman.
While being a champion on the mat is important, it is the lessons Knox teaches that he hopes can be used elsewhere.
“If they put hard work in, they can take this wrestling and what they’ve learned from wrestling and apply it to life,” said Knox.
Knox says he had 60 wrestlers in all go out for his team this year.