When four-time world champion Jordan Burroughs steps on the mat for the United States at the upcoming world championships in Hungary, he will be wearing special shoes in honor of Middletown High graduate Richard Perry.
Perry, who earned a spot in the U.S. national team earlier this year at 86 kg (189 pounds), was scheduled to be part of the U.S. team as a training partner for Burroughs, who competes at 74 kg (163 pounds).
But Perry will home in Philadelphia recovering from a freak accident during U.S. training camp in San Diego in late August. According to Andy Hamilton of TrackWrestling.com, Perry was involved in a drill with foam-padded clubs. He took a shot to the face and the foam protection dislodged. The baton slipped through a hole in his facemask and struck him the eye, causing trauma to the brain.
Perry spent four weeks in a San Diego hospital before being flown across the country to his home in Philadelphia. He is currently in a Philadelphia hospital and will remain in the intensive care unit until he is released to begin an inpatient therapy program, according to his wife Gina in an update on Facebook.
The shoes will have an image of Perry with his arms raised high, celebrating a victory, along with the words PerryStrong, Overcomer and 60K/30.
“Whenever I step out on the mat, it is always bigger than me,” Burroughs wrote in a Facebook post. “But this feels just a little bigger.”
“When doctors give a diagnosis and anticipate the length of recovery for an individual, they can only account for the power of the human body,” Burroughs wrote. “They can’t measure the strength of the human spirit. Rich is a great man surrounded by amazing friends, an incredible wife, and a powerful God. Despite what doctors originally thought, he’s going to be healthy again with a life-changing testimony to share.
“I’m so thankful for Daniel (Ortiz) and his willingness to help me create such a special ode to Rich. He’s a true artist with next-level skill. I’m glad we have this type of talent and love in the wrestling community,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs explained what he and Ortiz had in mind when Ortiz designed the shoes.
- “Perry Strong: Since Rich’s accident, there has been an overwhelming display of love and support from the wrestling community. We’ve all rallied behind the hashtag #PerryStrong in support of Rich and his family. His strength is immeasureable.
- “Overcomer: If you know Rich personally, you know that he has overcome a fair share of adversity throughout his life. We believe in his spirit, and his willingness to push through all circumstances. He has, and he will,” Burroughs wrote.
- “60k/30: This summer, Rich completed an insane challenge in which he did 60,000 push-ups in only 30 days. That’s 2,000 pushups a day! If you spent any time with Rich during the month of July then you either saw him doing pushups (sometimes at the most random times) or maybe you even joined him. It was a commitment that he stuck to and the wrestling world stood in awe.
- “Arms Raised in Victory: This photo was taken immediately after Rich made his first national team this season, finishing third in the nation at 86kg. It was a monumental achievement for a young man from a town in Connecticut with no wrestling history. Rich didn’t start wrestling until high school, and he’s ascended to becoming one of the best wrestlers in the world. Rich is a man of faith, and this picture displays him and his thankful heart giving glory for his victory,” Burroughs wrote.
A Go Fund Me account, set up by a family friend to help Perry’s family with expenses as he recovers from the injury, has raised more than $133,000 with nearly 2,000 donations from people across the nation.
Rudis, a wrestling apparel company, launched a fundraising campaign for the Perry family. Rudis is selling “Richard Perry Overcomer” T-shirts for $35 with all proceeds going to the family.
— RUDIS (@the_rudis) August 31, 2018
In June, Perry earned a spot on the U.S. national team for the first time with a 7-4 victory over former Iowa State wrestler Pat Downey.
Perry did attend the 2016 Olympics in Rio as the training partner for American Kyle Snyder, who won a gold medal.
Perry graduated from Middletown High in 2008, where he wrestled for two seasons. As a senior, he won the Class L and State Open title at 215 pounds and was second in New England. In 2009, he spent a year at Hyde-Woodstock and finished second in New England (215).
He wrestled for four years at Bloomsburg State (2011-14), qualifying for the NCAA Tournament three times and posting a career record of 110-30.