TERRE HAUTE —
Greg Archer of Terre Haute is similar to the Timex advertised in those old television commercials.
You know, the watch that “takes a licking and keeps on ticking”?
Not that Archer is old, but he might remember when that slogan was introduced to consumers in the 1950s.
That’s probably a stretch, but Archer has been on the receiving end of chokes, arm drags and a wide variety of wrestling holds since he was a teenager in the 1960s.
Yet Archer refuses to leave the mat.
And why should he? Archer still knows how to dish it right back to his opponents and younger training partners.
Now 62, the man who competed for Indiana State University’s team — back when it had a team — in the early 1970s represented the United States in the Veterans Freestyle Wrestling World Championships on Oct. 1-3 at Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Wrestling on Oct. 1, the 5-foot-8, still very fit Archer won the bronze medal (third place) in the 76-kilogram weight division (167 1/2 pounds) for Division F (61-65 years of age).
In the quarterfinals, he needed only 44 seconds to defeat Ghassemi Mashallah of Italy by fall.
“It was a great match for me,” Archer told the Tribune-Star. “He attempted a single-leg attack at the beginning and I countered with a sprawl and head pressure, then I used a slide-by arm drag off that position. I scored a pushout, which is a one-point move in freestyle. Then we came back to the center of the mat to restart and I believe he had a mental lapse … and I attacked with an inside-step, single-leg takedown and moved up to score a fall off it.”
But in the semifinals, he was pinned by eventual runner-up Magomed Badrudinov of Russia.
“He was pretty tough,” Archer admitted. “I wrestled him in the finals last year. I lost to him in overtime then. He’s a past world champion. We’ll have another match down the road, I’m sure.”
That sent Archer to the repechage (a.k.a. wrestleback round), where he defeated Henrihs Tautkus of Latvia by technical fall (8-0) in about 1:30, enabling him to finish third.
“It was another good match for me,” he said. “All these guys are pretty tough at this level. I was very fortunate to score right into the match on a double-leg takedown for two points. Then I followed up with a two-point tilt [back exposure].
“In freestyle, if there is a no scoring within about 15 seconds of the previous score, both wrestlers go back to their feet in a neutral position. From there, I hit a snapdown go-behind for two points. After being set back on our feet 15 seconds later, I hit an arm drag for another two-point takedown, giving me the technical fall.”
Not bad for a 62-year-old man, huh?
“I had a great draw,” Archer assessed about his experience in this tournament. “I matched up well all along. I needed to wrestle Magomed somewhere along the way anyway if I was going to have a chance at winning the championship.
“Magomed and I are very friendly rivals. There is a lot of affection between us. He’s what I like in a competitor. He’s very intense during the course of a match. But afterward, he throws his arms around an opponent and they become buddies. We’ve known each other for about 10 years now.”
Overall, Archer felt pleased with his performance.
“I wrestled very well, except for the early moments in the match against Badrudinov when I got caught off guard,” he noted. “It was a great tournament. I enjoyed it.
“For me, I felt like the favor of God surrounded me. I went in with an assortment of injuries [rotator cuff and thigh], but those injuries vanished once the tournament started.”
Archer estimated that about 400-500 athletes representing 30 countries competed in these world championships.
Now that he’s back in Terre Haute, he’s been feeling those injuries the same as before. After resting for a couple weeks, he’s training again with jiu-jitsu specialist and instructor Jack McVicker.
As for Archer’s future in the sport, he figures he’s got several good years remaining. But once he hits 70, if the rules don’t change before then, he’ll need to petition the International Wrestling Federation to be allowed to compete.
“I love competing,” Archer emphasized. “I love wrestling. I love staying in shape. So I will continue to try and compete as long as I’m physically able … I guess for as long as God allows me to.”