Santiago Rueda is a young American athlete of Mexican roots, who has stood out for his excellent performance in the traditional combat sport and mixed martial arts, wrestling, or Olympic wrestling. At just 16 years old, he recently won the championship in his category at the “SCHSL Wrestling State Championships, 2022”. Behind Santiago, there is an emotional family story that accompanies his triumphs.
Cándido Rueda, Santiago’s father, came to the United States from Mexico with his wife Yolanda Barrientos, pursuing the dream of having better opportunities for himself and his family. Together they formed a home with three children: Zaid, Santiago, and Mateo Rueda, who developed a taste for combat sports and mixed martial arts in the United States. Cándido and his wife never imagined that their children would be attracted to this type of unconventional sport, however, they feel lucky for the interest that was generated in their children because thanks to this sport they have obtained important opportunities.
“Today we feel very proud that our children have chosen to practice this sport because despite how demanding it is, they have stayed away from the temptations and dangers that exist in the streets.”
Zaid was the first to become interested in practicing combat sports at his school, focusing on improving his sports skills in order to obtain a university scholarship, but unfortunately, this was not possible, since he belongs to the DACA immigration program and could not obtain state benefits offered to young wrestling practitioners. Meanwhile, Santiago was following in his brother’s footsteps because he dreamed of being a professional wrestler. In the beginning, he had to be patient because he was not old enough to start the practice.
While waiting his turn, he was an assistant to the school wrestling team where his brother Zaid wrestled. Santiago, like his brother, started practicing wrestling in Middle School, always with the mentality of being a state champion in High School because he knew that this would give him the possibility of obtaining a university scholarship, taking advantage of his status as an American citizen.
Cándido and Yolanda fully supported Santiago’s dream, although from their experience with Zaid they knew that it required a lot of dedication, discipline, and perseverance since professional wrestling is a very demanding sport and at the same time it is essential to have a good academic level to compete in wrestling. Today these parents feel very happy to see their son Santiago’s dreams come true and how he obtains great triumphs.
“It fills us with pride. It is indescribable to put into words what we felt when we heard our son’s name announced as State Champion, our eyes filled with tears.”
The history of Santiago and his performance in this sport is admirable. Cándido and Yolanda are excited to see the exponential growth of Latinos who practice wrestling and how many of them, like their son, have the opportunity to stand out in a sport in which traditionally only athletes of American origin have stood out. Mateo, the youngest son follows in the footsteps of his brothers to whom we wish him many successes.
“We can tell our Latino people that it is always worth supporting our children no matter how much time or effort we have to invest because this allows them to stay healthy and away from leisure or bad influences. Apart from the game of ball, there are other sports that also offer opportunities. Most Latinos are unaware of this sport of wrestling and the benefits it can bring to our children. Let’s help our Latino children achieve their dreams and make some noise in this country”