The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
Rapper One Mic wrestles to save the sport
By Sandy Stevens
Editor’s Note: The following column first appeared in WIN, Volume 19, Issue 8 and printed April 2, 2013. Also, the words in italics are from the song, “Save the Sport” by rapper One Mic.
Like tens of thousands of wrestling fans, Mike Torsiello eagerly awaited the broadcast of the finals of this year’s NCAA Div. I Championships.
Beyond his love for the sport, however, the former Centenary College wrestler turned hip-hop recording artist “One Mic” had another compelling reason to watch.
ESPN, opening the broadcast for the worldwide audience with a segment on saving Olympic wrestling, featured “Save the Sport,” a song One Mic wrote about the threat to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympics.
“I know the power that music has, so I thought writing a song was the best approach,” he explained. “The biggest thing was raising awareness and giving back to the wrestling community that was always there for me.”
“The love, passion, pain, pride and the glory
It’s all to every little kid who’s writing their story”
When he heard the devastating news, One Mic was recording his latest album, but he knew he had to react. A few hours later, “Save the Sport” was ready to capture the minds and hearts of the wrestling world.
“I feel like every line hit the nail on the head, and there was somebody out there who could relate to it,” he said. “I know a lot of kids grow up wanting to be an Olympic champion. That was my dream.”
Torsiello started wrestling about age five while living next door to three-time New Jersey state champ and eventual Lock Haven wrestler James LaValle.
“His little brother was about my age, and I was always hanging out with him and at their house,” One Mic said. “We were the first two to enter a kids’ wrestling program.”
“How you going to take away, something that paved the way
for millions of little kids”
At Hanover Park High School in East Hanover, N.J., Torsiello competed at 119 pounds as a freshman, 130 as a sophomore and 145 his last two years.
As a senior, he posted a 31-4 season record; he led 14-0 at the state tournament — before getting pinned.
“That was why I wanted to wrestle in college,” he said.
At Centenary, he majored in business management and marketing, minored in math and earned 29 wins at 157 pounds in his junior season.
He left Centenary his senior year to help care for his late mother who was battling cancer.
“It made us strong, ready for whatever life hands us….
And capable of any job our future lands us”
By then, though, One Mic’s music career was already underway.
“My roommate’s cousin was a rap artist,” he recalled, “and I said, ‘I wish I could do that.’ I went home, wrote my first song and haven’t stopped since.”
One Mic credits his family, friends and fans who’ve helped make his dream possible, but he also celebrates the life lessons his sport taught him.
“The discipline wrestling teaches you is
unbelievable: the second practice after the first practice, cutting weight, watching your meals,” he said. “It gives you strength, mentally and physically, that no other sport can give you.”
As his work gained positive feedback, One Mic compiled his first CD, “Missing Pieces, Vol. I.”
“It was pretty much about finding pieces of the journey I was on,” he explained.
Now he’s working on his sixth CD, set to be his first official album and expected to be available on iTunes by the beginning of summer.
“Now the dilemma that we’re facing, now it’s getting disgracing….
Taking away a sport that’s forever amazing”
The week of the NCAA Championships, One Mic received an e-mail from an ESPN producer, saying “Save the Sport” might be used on the broadcast. One Mic had his DVR ready.
“Of course, I watched the finals,” he declared, “but I would have anyway. I never miss it!”
Organizations such as Save Olympic Wrestling, Cliff Keen and Wrestling Gear have posted “Save the Sport” to raise awareness.
Also, One Mic said, the song is available on YouTube and on iTunes for 99 cents.
“I will be donating a portion of the proceeds to a Keep Wrestling in the Olympics foundation,” he said.
“We got to stick together if we’re saving the sport”