“Marines are known for fighting, and wresting is a fighting sport, so I’m not super surprised that we had a bunch of those top matches,” said 1st Lt. Jamel Johnson of the All-Marine Wrestling Team. “We are just known for it.”
Greco-Roman wrestling website Five Point Move published its top 10 Greco matches of 2019, Dec. 30. Four All-Marine wrestlers made the cut. The Marines also took the No. 1 spot.
Here’s a look at the Marines’ matches that were recognized.
#10: Staff Sgt. John Stefanowicz (USMC) over Davyd Shadt (Ukraine) 6-2
Stefanowicz overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat Shadt in the 87 kg final of the Haparanda Cup in Sweden, Dec. 30. The victory gave Stefanowicz his first-ever international gold medal at the Senior level.
#7: Capt. Daniel Miller (USMC) over Lucas Sheridan (Army) 7-5
In what Five Point Move called “the most thrilling last-second comeback of the entire year,” Capt. Miller rallied back after being down 5-2 in the final seconds to claim victory in round two of the best-of-three match, May 19.
According to Miller, getting recognition on list is just an indication of the Marines’ identity and culture.
“We are Devil Dogs,” Miller said. “We are fighters. We are out there to scrap and a lot of times it ends up being a good show for the fans.”
#4: Sgt. Xavier Johnson (USMC) over Nolan Baker (NYAC) 13-13
Sgt. Johnson and Baker went back and forth in the 67 kg bronze medal match at the U.S. Senior Nationals held in Fort Worth, Texas in December. Up 9-4 on his opponent at one point, Johnson fought to survive a comeback attempt and held on to win the match based on point criteria.
#1: Sgt. Raymond Bunker (USMC) over Ahmet Yilmaz (Turkey) 7-5
Sgt. Bunker’s bronze medal-clinching match at the Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland on Aug. 3 earned him the top spot on the list, according to Five Point Move, because of the excitement of the match and the amount of heart Bunker shows on the mat.
“Bunker is always dependable when it comes to a blood-and-guts kind of effort,” wrote Five Point Move.
It’s that warrior-like effort, driven by his Marine Corps mentality, which has propelled Bunker to the limelight of Greco-Roman style wrestling in America.
1st Lt. Jamel Johnson, a 2019 Military World Games participant, said that having four Marines make the list wasn’t a shock.
“Marines are known for fighting, and wresting is a fighting sport, so I’m not super surprised that we had a bunch of those top matches,” Johnson said. “We are just known for it.”