Desire to Win

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During day one of the Far East Wrestling Championships in 1974, I fractured my left elbow. I was a student at American High School in Japan and my coach and sensei (or master teacher) was Noriaki Kiguchi. He wrapped my elbow, put it on ice and checked on me throughout the night. The next day, he looked at me and said, "Doug-son, are you sure you want to continue?" "I've come too far to quit now," I replied, although the pain was almost unbearable. Kiguchi-san Sensei then took the bandage off my left arm and put it on my right arm as he explained: "Everybody knows you were injured yesterday, but they will not remember which arm." I ended up placing second, missing out on first place by only one point, even with the pain of my injury.

Noriaki Kiguchi was not just my coach and sensei; he was a legend in the wrestling world and is the only Japanese wrestler who is a member of the American Wrestling Hall of Fame. When I recently heard from a Japanese pastor friend that he passed away this past September, I was surprised at how the news emotionally impacted me. The life lessons I learned during my athletic days and the disciplines I gleaned from my wrestling coaches — in particular, the three years of mentoring from Kiguchi-san — shaped me so much over the years.

When I went through a battle with stage 4, 80% aggressive B-cell lymphoma back in 2015, I remembered that moment in 1974. It had become a life lesson to me that my desire to win had to be greater than my moment of pain or challenge. My wife even designed a T-shirt with my quote because I say it so often — and there I was, in a fight for my life. That life lesson from my Sensei in 1974 once again gave me the courage and strength to continue to fight.

I encourage you today that no matter what you're going through, there is One who lives in you, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will strengthen you through the obstacles, giants, distractions or pain. He can and will help you through any discouragements or broken-heartedness. You can overcome because there is life beyond the moment you are currently going through.

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To hear Doug's podcast episode titled "Wresting to Win," listen to A Word in Season with Doug Stinger & Friends.

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