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Mark Hall Promoting Equality With Black Wrestling Association

Mark Hall left Penn State wrestling as a four-time All-American, three-time Big Ten Champion, one-time NCAA Champion, and the owner of a 117-6 record.

Now, he is attempting to change the sport forever through his involvement with the Black Wrestling Association (BWA), which he became a confounder of earlier this summer.

Hall’s involvement with the BWA started with a conversation. He and Princeton wrestling coach Nate Jackson each shared their visions for college wrestling moving forward. From there, they organized Zoom meetings with 50 of the best Black wrestlers and coaches to figure out how the BWA could promote equality across the sport.

Hall said it’s “so special” being a BWA co-founder. He hopes to use his platform as a prominent athlete to promote positive change within the community.

“I think being a wrestler and having the accomplishments that I have, I’m coming to realize that I won’t always be competing, but I am always going to be human and I am always going to be an ambassador for this sport if I continue on the right path,” Hall said. “I believe that just being a wrestler wasn’t enough. I can use my platform, I can encourage others to use their platform to bring light to situations that need to be shined on. That’s something special that I am coming to realize.”

Hall has experienced the racism that comes with being a Black athlete in a predominantly white sport. Whether it be intentional or unintentional, Hall recalled several times where he’d received racist remarks.

“I can’t tell you the amount times I’ve heard the phrase ‘chocolate melts in the third,’ which pretty much means that traditionally people believe that African-American wrestlers get tired in the third period,” Hall said. “Going to events, I had an incident at Iowa this year that really just like, I was fuming mad, seeing red. I want to be a part of something that can potentially end those types of things.”

Hall mentioned his experiences don’t even compare to the remarks that people like Olympians Kenny Monday and Kevin Jackson heard. He looks up to those athletes, calling them “resilient.”

When faced with a racist remark, Hall says he has “unfortunately” not always stood up for himself and what is right.

“I say unfortunately because there [are] definitely times where I need to be saying something, and I need to be sticking up for what I obviously think is the difference between right and wrong,” Hall said.

Instead of looking back on how he’s handled these situations, Hall uses this time to learn how to handle them in the future.

The BWA’s mission statement is “To Inspire, Connect, and Empower Black Wrestlers and Allies to Grow Wrestling through Representation, Equality, and Opportunity.” As you’d expect, Hall’s goals for the organization directly flow from these attributes.

“What that means to me is doing events, giving scholarships, bringing in more opportunity for communities that might not have the same type of opportunities as other places,” Hall said. “Being able to have those big events when you get the best minds in wrestling together to just bring that awareness, to just bring that love to this sport.”

Hall has already started making a difference within college wrestling. He recently talked on a Zoom call with Oregon State’s wrestling team.

“For me, to be able to a part of that was really special because I’m just getting done with college wrestling,” Hall said. “I am still able to be a voice and to be someone that people my age are looking up to.”

Despite the BWA being a new organization, anyone can get involved. You can get added to its email list, donate, and follow the organization on Twitter and Instagram at @BWAssociation_. Hall believes that being a part of the BWA is more than just putting your name on an email list, though.

“To be a part of the BWA isn’t just being able to say you have a membership,” he explained. “Being a part of the BWA means you are also encouraging that inspiration, encouraging those connections, and encouraging others to continue to do those right things as well.”

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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