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Noel Erazo: “I am the last wrestler of the old school”

José Noel Erazo Henríquez, representative of Salvadoran wrestling in 97 kilograms freestyle, defined himself as “the last active wrestler of the old school” and has set as his goal to earn a place on the podium of his sport in the Central American and Caribbean Games San Salvador 2023.

With 16 years of experience as a national team member, Erazo is one of the most experienced wrestlers with good projection in the sport of grappling and takedowns.

“My purpose is to give my country a medal at the Central American and Caribbean level, as I have done before, and it is very important for me to improve every day to achieve that goal,” said the 35-year-old wrestler.

Erazo explained that when he joined the national wrestling team, he was a teammate of Francisco Serrano, (José Edgardo) Tato Ramos, Luis Portillo, Milton Lazo, Lil Canales, and Ingrid Medrano Cuéllar, among others.

“For me, it’s been seeing different wrestlers come and go, and I think I’m the last old school wrestler, let’s put it that way, that’s still here,” he stressed.

Erazo’s record includes the Central American and Caribbean Games Mayaguez 2010, where he won the bronze medal in freestyle and Greco-Roman, while in the Barranquilla 2018 regional games he was just a step away from third place.

For Erazo, the Central American and Caribbean Games will be special because he will be at home, but he knows that in his category there will be strong rivals such as Cuba, an Olympic wrestling power, and Venezuela.

 “It will be very gratifying to participate in these Games, being at home is a double commitment, I have the responsibility to represent my country with dignity, and it is something of great responsibility as an athlete. I am working hard every day to improve and to be able to represent El Salvador at the top of the podium”, he said.

On his part, the coach of the national team, Carlos Barahona, explained that because of their experience and level, Erazo and Juan Rodriguez can be a surprise in the competition.

“Both Noel and Juan Rodriguez have the most experience in the team. Juan has been a Pan American medalist and Noel has already been a Central American and Caribbean medalist, so they can surprise us. One of them trained for a month in Cuba and is training with the Cubans here,” said Barahona, who also serves as technical manager of the Salvadoran Wrestling Federation.

Between wrestling and entrepreneurship

Erazo began his sports career as a handball player and was one of the athletes residing in Villa CARI, in Ayutuxtepeque, where he met some wrestlers who encouraged him to join the training sessions.

“I shared accommodation module with wrestling athletes, there were cadets, juniors, and seniors, that is when we talked about wrestling, it caught my attention, and I joined the practices. I participated in a National Championship of wrestling, and I was second place, and then I was called to the national team. My coach was German Padilla, he formed me as an athlete and with him, I won Central American and Central American and Caribbean medals”, explained Erazo, who studied physical education at the University of El Salvador.

The athlete recalled that he started in the 120-kilogram category, but at various stages changed to 97 and 84 kilograms. Now he remains in the 97 category.

In addition to wrestling, Erazo has a business venture selling sports shoes and works on sports projects with a preventive approach with the Salvador del Mundo Foundation (FUSALMO).

“I sell sports footwear, and it was a venture that I started during the pandemic, it is online, and I ship to various areas of San Salvador. In the projects with FUSALMO we go to communities and educational centers where we implement the recreational and sports area,” he said.

After 16 years as a national wrestling team member, Erazo sees the Salvadoran Wrestling Federation’s commitment to reach out to schools and educational centers as important. 

“In the post pandemic period, wrestling is growing in schools and the federation has many projects for children, which is one of the seedbeds for the future of Olympic wrestling. We want to be a good example for them, and we want them to be better than us,” said the wrestler.

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