Jeff Anderson defying age limitations on the mat

The Zeeland native is wrestling and winning against competitors half his age
Jeff Anderson wrestling
Posted at 9:38 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 23:09:49-04
Zeeland man defying age limitations on the mat

Inside of a holland gym you'll find high school and college wrestlers training, and then there's 55-year-old Jeff Anderson.

"I compete next week against 18 to 30 year old’s,” Anderson said. “Sometimes kids will come in there, I don't score a point on them but next time I come back it's vice versa."

Not only is Anderson still wrestling 50 years after he started, he's doing it at one of the highest levels in the world, representing the United States at the United World Wrestling Championships in Greece this week.

"There are 60 different countries here,” Anderson said. “Iran, Russia, Poland, India is here, they're some of the higher represented countries."

Jeff Anderson wrestling
Jeff Anderson wrestling

Anderson had to compete in a tournament in Los Angeles where the top two would qualify. He finished third, the first person left out.

"I have a very good friend I train with, Paul, I get back from trials, I was disappointed, he said Jeff stay focused and good things will happen,” Anderson recalled. “Two days later I got the call, I was like oh my gosh he's right."

His opponent had been disqualified and sent him to compete in the veteran’s division in Greece which is made up of 18 to 35 year old’s, Anderson, who continues to qualify in that age group, will be the oldest competing by over 20 years.

"I'm not different from any man out there,” Anderson said. “I wake up sore, I wake up tired, I get beat up at practice, I have good days and bad days, I'm no different from anyone else but you find some inspiration."

After Greece this week, Anderson will get on another flight to Serbia to compete in the seniors division in grappling, where he's already won four world titles.

Jeff Anderson wrestling
Jeff Anderson wrestling

While he's physically and mentally still up to the challenge, his age has provided some problems at these younger tournaments.

"In Kazakhstan, I was in a medal round for third and fifth place is how they do it,” Anderson said. “I'm warming up, they call my name to the arena for my medal match and the security guard stops me, I said hey I'm up and they said no, no, no coach, no coach, I run to the mat, they're chasing me, jump on the mat and say look Anderson, that's me and they said oh sorry."

And he's not stopping now.

"When I'm not competitive with the younger generation then I'm done, done with the 18 to 34 young guys,” Anderson stated. “As long as I'm still competitive winning matches and some medals, I'll keep going."

He'll look to bring home some more medals to add to his decorated resume over the next two weeks.

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