BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's 5:30 on a Thursday afternoon,and Sheridan Moran is sweating. The 165-pound Catholic High science teacher and assistant wrestling coach is cutting weight. It is not a show of solidarity with his athletes. Moran has his own battle to fight.
Decked out in a Judo gi, sweat pants, and wrestling shoes, Moran is grabbing, flipping, throwing, and being thrown. He's training to conquer the world.
Moran is a newcomer to the world of Sambo , a wrestling style that combines traditional wrestling, Judo throws, and Jui-Jitzu submissions into brutal hand-to-hand combat. And he is about to compete on a world stage.
"It's going to be a meat grind," he says. "It's going to be the absolute best from every country. I actually relish the challenge."
"When you step on the mat, it's not about you and that other guy competing against each other." Moran says. "It's about the battle inside yourself."
It is a battle he has waged since he finished his collegiate wrestling career six years ago. Moran was a state champion wrestler for Lafayette High back in 2005. From there, he went on to grapple for Virginia Tech and Newberru College where he finished as a collegiate All-American.
"As a collegiate wrestler," says UFC Gym instructor Josh Mancuso says, "once that's over, there's no further to go."
He introduced Moran to Sambo a year and a half ago to keep him in shape. "Sheridan is what I like to call an obsessive competitor. He is a guy that literally hates to lose."
It's that hatred of losing that has brought Moran to Narita, Japan for the Sambo World Championships. After competing for only four months, he has risen from an unranked grappler to the Pan American Champion and earned a chance to wrestle with the world's elite. And he is wrestling in Asia, home turf to the Russians who invented the sport. That home-field advantage does not scare Moran.
"The real victory is in knowing that you've overcome that fear." he says. "That you know you gave everything you had no matter the outcome."
Mancuso says Moran is being modest. He says with a good draw in the first round, Moran has a chance to make it all the way to the finals. But for Moran it's more about the grind than the victory. "If the worst thing I ever do is lose a Sambo fight, my life is going to be a pretty good life."
Moran competes Friday morning in Japan. He hopes to compete in Sambo as an exhibition sport in the Olympics in 2020 and barring injuries as a full Olympic sport in 2024.