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February 23rd, 2011
09:36 AM ET

Wrestler who wouldn't fight a girl speaks about it for first time

Joel Northrup is a 15 year-old high school wrestler from Marion, Iowa and was a favorite to win his weight class in the state tournament. But when Northrup learned he was slotted to wrestle a girl in the first-round, he forfeited, citing his religion.

Joel Northrup and his father Jamie talk to T.J. Holmes about his decision to forgo fighting a girl.


Filed under: Religion • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. mike sey

    Way too much deep thinking about this. His call, her call : He isn't the first athlete to drop out of competition for religious reasons, and the decision isn't career changing. We make choices for legitimate or illegitimate reasons and we live with the consequences good or bad.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  2. MeLoN

    HRolle February 24th, 2011 10:56 am ET

    Wow...there are way too many bible thumpers on this site. The kid should have wrestled...but he was obviously just afraid of how bad his parents would beat him if he lost to a girl.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    The dumbest statement ever in the history of this blog.

    February 25, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  3. Linda

    Joel has a right to his belief and wrestling obviously should not be a coed sport. How unfortunate that boys and girls are being put in this position.

    February 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  4. HRolle

    Wow...there are way too many bible thumpers on this site. The kid should have wrestled...but he was obviously just afraid of how bad his parents would beat him if he lost to a girl.

    February 24, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  5. Pastor Brian

    Joel in is actions not to wrestle a girl is showing a great biblical standard and respect with honor for what the bible says about women. God said that women are special and show be treated that way. I love that fact that Joel even if it meant to loose the state title "He would not wrestle a young lady" That a boy Joel for standing up for what you believe in. Put God First you will never loose.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  6. John E. Broman

    Good for you Joel. i hope and pray for you that you will stick by your principles throughout your life as you did this time. You will be blessed.
    I have a 15 year old son (and two, 14 year old sons, for that matter), and would love to have them meet you, some day.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  7. Josh in Iowa

    Just a little FYI to all the idiots who insist he was worried about losing. He forfeited a match to this same girl in a January dual. The coaches sent his backup out to wrestle her and he pinned her. The BACKUP! If the backup went out and pinned this girl what do you think a kid who was picked to possibly win the State Championship would of done to this girl. Good for him for standing up for what he believes in!

    February 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  8. von

    Bas67, if you've seen this kid wrestle there's no way that he forfeited that match because he was scared of getting beat by her. This kid is a demon. Last year I believe he came in 3rd as a freshman which is amazing, and he was the favorite to win his weight class and his family is very religious. So as you can see there's not a chance in hell he would've lost this match.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  9. Raza

    I do karate, and in my dojo, we stop our hits before we can hit the other person. During sparring, if I spar with a girl, I try to look at the situation as a chance to improve my parrying and defending skills. I just feel queasy to be attacking a girl or even pointing a limb at her chest. I have seen the girls in my class fight in tournaments, and I have competed with them in stamina and speed contests, so I know that some are stronger than me and that others are weaker, but again, I do not want to fight any of them.

    Wrestling is mostly comprised of groping. A boy groping a girl, or a girl groping a boy, especially if they're resisting, is wrong. Who's to say when it goes from sport to sexual assault? Football players are tolerant of slapping each other on their butts, but I doubt many of them would slap a girl teammate there. Their queasiness would come from the differences of anatomy, which are real differences.

    Just because the preconception is there that boys are sexmongers, some girls want to be allowed to be "sexually liberated", too. That's allowed by our culture. Yet, if boys don't want to touch a girl they are not intimate with, why are they considered to be sexist? Are they not allowed their own choices? If girls are allowed to decide to fight or wrestle, why are boys not entitled to refuse? Giving girls choices, and taking them away from boys is also sexist.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  10. Nicole

    There are not enough girls in the country that enjoy wrestling to make it an un-coed sport. I have watched many girls wrestle and if that is their passion then the boys need to step up and view them as equals! Religion really has nothing to do with it, i mean men use the same thought about religion to justify the beating and abuse of their wives, so its less about religion and more about the moral values of a teenager.

    I respect his view and if thats what he feels all the more power to him but girls shouldn't be restricted in a sport that they love, and it was the girl's choice to be there so she knows the risk as much as any other participant.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  11. andrew

    how do you teach boys there whole life not to hit women and how bad it is...and then at the same time expect them just to shut it off and slam this girl to the mat.....not saying he would have won but you can't just shut that off and one day start slamming girls around......

    February 23, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  12. Wes English

    I am glad to see there are still some teenagers with some common sense and moral values in this society. Good decision by Joel. It's not always about winning. How did we ever get to the point where it is okay for girls to wrestle against boys?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  13. Jennifer

    First, wrestling is not an actual "fight." There is no punching, fists to the face, etc. I have no issue with a person not participating in an event if for whatever reason, to do so goes against their personal beliefs.

    I think some people made this into a discrimination decision rather than a religious decision.

    However, for people who just say – oh the boys shouldn't have to touch girls that way (in a wrestling match). I say baloney. The entire sport of wrestling is all about touching – why is it wrong for a boy/girl match to occur but not a boy/boy match?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  14. Bas67

    I think it's more likely that he's afraid she'll beat him and religion is a good excuse.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  15. Ken O

    We feel that Joel is an outstanding young man for standing up against all the pressure for what he believes to be wrong. It takes a really special person especially his age to be so committed. It is unfair to place young people into this position. We would hope that the state takes actions so that this does not happen again. Let boys wrestle boys and girls wrestle girls. We would not want our daughter to be in the position of allowing a boy to touch and be handled roughly. GOOD FOR YOU JOEL! We see great things ahead for you young man.

    Ken & Kathy O – TX

    February 23, 2011 at 10:05 am |