Juncos inaugurates its first wrestling school
By Richard Gutiérrez
Juncos is a town well known for its appreciation of sports. After all, without positive things to encourage the youth to take part in, many would probably be lost to drugs or alcohol.
While your average baseball or soccer team can get the job done in that regard, not many consider the fact that wrestling can also be something young people can invest their time in, and get some exercise at the same time. Even though professional-style wrestling, especially in the form of the high-profile organization WWE, is fairly popular on the island, there has never been a wrestling school where young people are invited to practice wrestling as a hobby or eventually move on to it as a profession, until now.
With the purpose of educating new prospects under the tutelage of pro wrestler Mr. Big, Miguel Maldonado, alongside Juncos Mayor Alfredo “Papo” Alejandro Carrión, inaugurated on Saturday what will be known as the first-ever wrestling school in Puerto Rico, “Attitude Wrestling Academy PR,” which is located in the facilities of the now abandoned Fulgencio Piñero School in Juncos. The place is currently administered by the municipality as part of a plan that seeks to develop a sports school, and was ceded to the wrestling academy for five years.
“The story of our wrestling academy started in the year 2019 in Humacao,” Maldonado said. “That’s where we had a very good group of students, but as destiny would have it, we had to move and look for a new place, until Papo Alejandro opened the doors to us by letting us set up camp here. We are very thankful to the mayor and to the municipal director of recreation and sports, Misael “Maiky” Rivera. We will be operating from Tuesday to Thursday at 6 p.m. Here we will welcome all types of people no matter their condition; as long as they are older than 14 years of age and weigh at least 150 pounds, they can enter the academy.”
He added that with the school, “we want to get young people off the streets as they did with me when I was young.”
“I was raised in public housing in Puerto Rico and I had a mentor who helped me get into sports; that is why I am trying to do the same,” Maldonado said. “We are seeing what’s happening and how these young people are pretty much killing themselves on the streets. We have to do something about it. Our focus is that students are better off at home, at school, at their jobs, and in general to help young people.”
Maldonado noted how inclusive the school is. Daniel Caballer Cabrera, a young man with autism who was the subject of a recent story in the STAR, is a student there.
“We currently have three students with autism,” Maldonado said. “Among them is ‘Chupi Hunter’ Daniel Caballer, who is rather famous in Puerto Rico right now; he is traveling the world currently representing autism and is currently the Autism World Champion.”
The Juncos mayor added that “to the friends of wrestling, I tell them that today that it’s hot here and that it’s a little tight on space; however, we must be thankful to God that we are here.”
“If the things I am projecting are to happen, we will move the wrestling school to a better and larger place where we have extremely large rooms,” Alejandro said. “That is where our new sports school will take place very soon.”
Among the guests were Niche, an Independent Wrestling Association world champion; Joel Torres, president of Contralona; Héctor “Moody” Meléndez; Dennis Rivera; and Rafael “Rafy” Marrero, a photographer who has done work for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and various companies in Puerto Rico.