Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Andrew Alirez
by Savannah Asmann, USA Wrestling
As Hispanic Heritage Month continues, USA Wrestling aims to spotlight athletes in the Hispanic community that have had an impact on the sport both on and off the mat. Andrew Alirez, hailing from Greeley, Colorado, is a strong example of an athlete that represents his heritage while striving to make a difference in the sport of wrestling.
Alirez announced recently that he is taking an Olympic Redshirt to focus on qualifying to represent the United States at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France. Alirez, the 2023 NCAA National Champion at 141 pounds, has had a special career at the University of Northern Colorado, becoming the program’s first national champion since 1962. Alirez is a 2018 Pan American Champion at the U20 age group level and most recently won the Waclaw Ziolkowski Memorial at the Senior level in July. In 2020, Alirez was the Senior Nationals champion at 65 kg.
Alirez found his passion for wrestling early on, and decided to continue his wrestling career just a few minutes from home at the University of Northern Colorado. Alirez's story is not just about personal triumph and dedication to wrestling, it’s also about the influence of his Hispanic heritage and the responsibility he feels to represent his community.
“Being Hispanic is a very important part of my identity, in many ways it shapes who I am. Hispanic fighters are known for their toughness and unstoppable determination, and I try to embody those values within my wrestling and life. Never waiver, don’t complain, and stay solid through tough times,” Alirez shares.
However, his journey in wrestling was not without challenges. “The sacrifices that are required in wrestling are very big and I have missed out on many fun times because of it, however, to me it is not missing out on anything because wrestling is what I love and born to do.
Injuries have been my biggest obstacle, bouncing back from them is no easy task and I have always done it chin up and chest out, embracing the adversity which made me a better man,” he explained.
For Alirez, it was his family and community that helped guide him in his wrestling career. “Growing up in Greeley gives you a sense of toughness and puts a chip on your shoulder. My family is well known for being tough individuals, whether that be wrestling, boxing, or MMA, so at family gatherings wrestling shoes or gloves always come out. This taught us how to embrace the fight and learn to love it!”
As a leader in the wrestling community, Alirez views the opportunity as a way to show kids the hard work, determination and family support can help you on the path to success. “Hopefully, I can inspire many to go on and do greater things than I have done. I try my best to represent my people, my city, my family, and my culture,” Alirez emphasizes.
Alirez’s decision to focus on qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Games reflects his commitment to reaching new heights and representing not just himself, but his family, community, and culture. He stands as an example of the legacy and willful spirit of the Hispanic community in the world of wrestling.