Arizona’s Radley forced to sweat another way

Updated: August 8, 2011

By Sandy Stevens

Working out = perspiration = weight control, right? For most wrestlers, yes. But Caleb Radley would say, “No sweat.”


The 15-year-old Arizona teen, nicknamed “Boo” by his buddies, deals with ectodermal dysplasia, a genetic disorder that results in abnormal development of the skin (pigment), hair, nails, teeth and/or sweat glands.

Caleb does not sweat, but he has chosen a sport where sweat equity is paramount. And he’s found a good deal of success since he started wrestling in fifth grade.

“I was always a small guy, I wasn’t very good in basketball and my friend wrestled,” he said. “It sounded like fun, and I was able to stop the physical bullying that took place because of my condition.”

Progressing as a fifth-grader and through middle school, Caleb eventually made the school’s varsity squad. He posted a 20-3 record last season as a freshman at Thatcher High School, a Division IV school of about 400 in southeastern Arizona. With a natural weight of 117, he competed from 111 to 132 pounds.

Caleb’s wins last season came from pins, tech falls or forfeits. After he qualified for the state tournament at 132, two of his losses came to the eventual state champion and fourth-place finisher.

“I’m not really strong even now for my weight, but I practice a lot and I go to a lot of camps,” he said. “Every camp has certain moves schools like and emphasize, so I learn those, and when I try something new, it’s like ‘Whoa!’ (Opponents) don’t know how to defend against it.

“I also found out I have sharp hips, so I use leg rides a lot.”

Just a few months before competing in last month’s USA Wrestling’s Junior National Championships in Fargo, Caleb took up freestyle and Greco-Roman to gain more mat time, making the Arizona team at 125 in both styles. He lost two in both styles, but wrestling in those tournaments provided a major challenge for the young man with heat intolerance.

“I have to use spray bottles to cool off,” he said, explaining that water evaporating from the skin replaces the cooling function of sweat. “(The bottles) can’t be used in freestyle and Greco.

“A guy can be really sweaty and that’s OK, because he’s wrestling. But for me, it’s  ‘Oh, that guy is spraying!’ That’s a sin for wrestling.

“And if it’s really hot and I’m spraying a lot or have to sit down or have a fan, some will say I’m being lazy.”

(To view the rest of this story, you can find it in the August 11, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 11, issue of WIN magazine. Click “Subscribe to WIN” to place your subscription to WIN.)