Dairy Flat wrestler Brahm Richards is making sure he is fully prepared for next year’s Olympic Games, after he was selected by the NZ Wrestling Federation last month.
The 23-year-old has been NZ Wrestling champ seven times and NZ Judo champ six times. He has a brown belt in Judo and a black belt in Shotokan Karate.
He represented NZ at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where he had a tough draw and lost both matches.
This year Brahm has won all his NZ fights, competing in the U74kg category.
He says selection for the Olympics is one hurdle out of the way, but he must still win in the Oceania Championship in American Samoa in January, and make the top six fighters at the Commonwealth Champs in Morocco before his entry is confirmed.
Like other athletes, Covid-19 travel restrictions have hit hard and both those events are currently up in the air.
“I’m training like I’m going, but it’s 50/50 at the moment,” he says.
When Brahm was four years old he was given special dispensation to take Karate classes, normally restricted to children over the age of five.
He was introduced to martial arts by his father, who has black belts in Karate and Taekwondo.
Brahm says he always thought the ‘grappling’ sports looked more fun. He began wrestling when he was 10 years old and loved it from the start.
“It’s one of the hardest sports from a physical and mental point of view. Technical skill, fitness, strength and the mental aspect all matter. It’s like a chess match and always challenging.”
One of the challenges that Brahm set himself this year was to lose weight so he can compete in the U65kg category.
He also trains twice daily, starting with an early morning high intensity cardio and weights workout and ending the day with wrestling training. In between, he manages Club Physical in Te Atatu – his “second home”. He is also studying towards a business degree and eventually hopes to open his own gym.
“There is no money in wrestling, so the Olympics is the peak,” he says. “I’ve started doing Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) because you can be a professional MMA fighter in NZ.