This book is about the loves of my life, both the abstract and the physical. The abstract resides in the achievements of the teams and the wrestlers. Death shattered my physical loves. I wish I had a love story like my grandparents. They were married for over fifty-four years and died only six weeks apart. I was blessed to know my great-grandmother, who was born a slave, and regret that I didn’t ask more about her life. It amazes and gratifies me to have the opportunity to examine our family line in this book.
In wrestling, we learn the motto, “Strong enough to stand alone.” This statement glorifies individual victories on the mat. But it fails to recognize that with each win comes from the support of numerous loved ones. These individuals sustain us off the mat in good and bad times. I would not be at this point in my life without my mother’s guidance and love. Amanda L. Shegog was a single parent who set strict standards for her children. Family and friends who stepped in to raise me knew her rules. Those standards received reinforcement from my coaches; Bart Kruse, Floyd G. Marshall, James K. Houston, Ken Kannegieter, Bruce Gilbert, Jare Klein, and my scoutmaster, Truman L. Barnes.
A famous Nigerian proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That village includes people outside your family. People often refer to honored folks as aunts and uncles, cousins, or brothers and sisters. The closeness led to the phrase, “My brother/sister from another mother.”
While we invite people to be part of our village, not everyone has our best interest in mind. I have paid attention all my life, hoping to emulate only those who create excellence in themselves and others. “Bad things happen to good people,” yet good people must continue to strive toward their dreams and passions.
Robert L. Shegog, 2021