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The City Journals

Grappler heads to world championships

Jun 23, 2017 09:45AM ● By Greg James

Taylorsville resident Brandon Ruiz won a super-heavyweight national title at grappling national championships in May in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Brandon Ruiz/USA grappling)

By Greg James |  [email protected] 

A former world title holder from Taylorsville has again advanced to the grappling world championships in October.

In 2011 Brandon Ruiz earned his first world championship in the No-Gi division of the United World Wrestling (UWW) Grappling World Championships. In April, he defeated three other super-heavyweights to earn another title in a long list of personal achievements.

“It is awesome to represent my country,” Ruiz said. “I take it seriously; grappling is not an Olympic sport, so this is the top of our game. I get excited to represent the United States.” 

The UWW World Championships are scheduled to be held Oct. 18–19 in Baku, Azerbaijan. He has six world championships and has medaled several times in his career. He said wrestling has become a way for him to compete and still feel like part of a team.

“I think wrestling found me,” he said. “I grew up with a strong work ethic, and initially I wanted to play basketball, but I found wrestling and enjoyed it. Wrestling is an individual sport, but I liked the camaraderie with my teammates, and I could test myself and try to find ways to be fulfilling.” 

Ruiz wrestles in the over-100 kilograms weight class. At 40 years old, he still competes against wrestlers nearly half his age. In most grappling and wrestling organizations, the competitors are divided by weight and age. At the Las Vegas national tournament, he was the smallest and oldest in his weight division.

He started competing in wrestling and martial arts in 1992. 

Ruiz graduated from Taylorsville High School in 1995. He placed third in 1995 and fifth in 1994 at the Utah High School Activities Association state wrestling meet. He was a four-year varsity lettermen at BYU and two time college All-American. He also was an Olympic training center athlete from 2003–2006.

As a walk-on freshman at BYU he quit wrestling, but at the Utah Summer Games following the season he defeated all his old BYU teammates, and they asked him to return as a scholarship athlete.

“For my serious training, I am putting in 10–12 hours of week training,” he said. “I just try to stay healthy. I think I can take advantage of someone with good strategy. Some of the younger wrestlers can take me physically, but I rely on my training and mental abilities too.” 

He has trained youth wrestlers in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling club teams. His training of wrestlers over 175 pounds gives him training partners for his own training goals. His club, Reese Combat Grappling, has trained at Jeremy Horns Elite Performance in Sandy, and he uses his own garage.

“I like to focus on the needs of the kids,” he said. “Plus being close to home is important to me.” 

Ruiz has five kids, serves in his church organization and holds down full-time employment. He joked he finished mowing the lawn before leaving to Las Vegas for the national tournament.

As a landscape architect, he has designed projects such as the bass fishing pond and labrum park. He has also helped plan specifications for LDS temples and City Creek in Salt Lake.

“It is cool to see the kids by the fish at City Creek,” Ruiz said. “It is fun to see I have left a fingerprint on my community. I am a Dad and not always a full-time athlete. If I can keep my body in tune, I would like to do this another 10 years. I would like to develop my skills and pass my knowledge until the day I die.”