SANDWICH, Ill. (WGN) — An Illinois middle school wrestler is speaking out after a widely-shared video shows him getting punched by his opponent after a match. The local Oak Park police are investigating.
Jillian Hill’s 14-year-old son Cooper is a two-time state wrestling champion, competing in the 125-128-pound division. On April 8, Cooper competed in the Beat the Streets tournament at Oak Park High School with his team out of Spar Academy in Aurora.
“He had won the match by tech-fall and when they came to the circle, Cooper extended his hand to shake his hand,” Hill told NEWS10’s sister station. “That’s when the assault happened.”
The video shows Cooper, in an orange singlet, shaking his competitor’s hand just seconds before the Maine West student punches him in the face. Cooper immediately fell to the ground. “I remember there was this stinging in my face. I balled up and I checked for blood. I looked up to see my stepdad and mom checking me,” he said.
“Cooper has had very intense matches before,” Hill added. “But nothing of that sort of level.”
The police were called. After some discussion, the family decided to move forward with criminal charges, but none have been filed. USA Wrestling will also impose a one-year suspension on the Maine West student.
“When we see these things happen, we need to take them seriously and get children the help that they need so that this will not continue,” Hill said.
“I think the suspension will give him some time to think about what he did wrong,” Cooper added. “I don’t wish any bad things upon the family. I don’t wish anything bad for him. I wish the best for them. I think the suspension should help clear their minds up and make him act right.”