RMI wrestlers head to Guam

Marshall Islands wrestlers, from left, Ricktak RJ Iban Jr, Waylon Muller and Meinshu Peter Jiang at the RRE garden. They were scheduled to depart to Australia August 3. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

HILARY HOSIA

Australia here we come.

The Marshall Islands Wrestling Federation is sending Ricktak “RJ” Iban Jr and Meinshu Peter Jiang to compete in the 2023 Oceania Championship in Australia scheduled to take place next week.

The duo are the newest members of Team RMI as the country is gearing up for the Micronesia Games in Majuro next year.

Although new to the RMI Team, RJ and Meinshu both have a rich history in the sport following years of competition in various states in the US.

RJ started his wrestling career as a freshman in Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Arkansas. His passion for the sport enabled him to climb ranks to become one of best high school wrestlers in Northwest Arkansas. Even after transferring to Springdale High School, he represented the school all through his high school, where he placed fourth in the State championships. RJ is currently a member of the University of the Ozarks wrestling squad.

Unlike RJ, who was born and raised in Springdale, Arkansas, Meinshu was born on Nallu, Mili. His family frequented Majuro and Mili before he relocated to Springdale at age 10. Meinshu was introduced to wrestling during his freshman year. That same year, he also tried out and made the Springdale Bulldogs football team. Meinshu, given his small stature, wasn’t comfortable competing next to bigger players in football and was encouraged to explore wrestling, where he said he was placed to compete with players his size. He had since represented and competed for his high school side by side with RJ. In his senior year, he won the State championship.

Throughout their high school years, RJ and Meinshu competed and won against other athletes from Arkansas border states of Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

“It’s not always about basketball,” RJ told the Journal. “You have to find other avenues, as long as the opportunity elevates you,” he added. RJ said he has always looked up to his brother as inspiration to keep pursuing greatness: Stanton Iban, former RMI National Basketball player.

The duo are scheduled to depart to Australia on Thursday, where they will compete with other athletes in the region.

Meinshu is 20-years old and will be competing in the 61kg (134-pound) class while 22-year-old RJ will be competing in the 86kg (190-pound) weight class.

The duo arrived in Majuro on July 13 and have since been hard at training at the Lojkar Gym with none other than RMI’s Golden Boy, wrestler and coach Waylon Muller.

And who best to chaperon Team RMI to the 2023 Oceanic Wrestling Championships in Australia next week than Waylon? He is a force known in the Pacific region for his record winning in the sport. Waylon won gold medals in four Micronesian Games, starting in Guam in 1994.

Waylon has been training and mentoring Meinshu Peter Jiang and Ricktak “RJ” Iban Jr since last month.

“I am confident with our boys,” Waylon told the Journal. “I’ve seen how they perform during our training in Lojkar and the boys are well conditioned.”

Waylon said the boys have been monitoring their food intake and both adhered to strict diets, a norm in the sport.

“Training in wrestling is hard and not for everyone,” Waylon added. “The sport requires a strong mentality along with physical strength and full-on determination.”

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