Charles Wallace wrestling with MMA

The 2016 Archbishop Ryan graduate is a novice MMA fighter with goals of getting to a professional level.

While an expert wrestler, Charles Wallace (right) can also throw hands. Photo: William N. McKee

For Charles Wallace, it pays to be at a disadvantage.

Wallace became a top wrestler at Archbishop Ryan High School by working out with guys bigger than him.

The 2016 graduate wrestled at 125 pounds for the Raiders and went a combined 59–18 over his final two years at the school.

The Raiders wrestling team was in its infancy when Wallace was on the roster, so he had to work out with whomever was in the room. Many times, that meant going against guys who were much bigger and stronger.

“I liked that because if you wrestle guys who are stronger than you, you’ll do better when you’re going against guys your size,” Wallace said. “That really helped me at Ryan. I would go in there and wrestle bigger, stronger guys and when it came time for my match, I was ready for anything.”

He’s taken that approach to his next career, too.

Wallace, 20, is competing in mixed martial arts. The amateur dropped his first match. He was winning the bout, but got caught in a chokehold. He has recovered to win his next two. On Saturday, he’ll look to add the prestigious Maverick MMA amatuer flyweight championship when he battles champion David Juliano at the Econo Lodge in Allentown.

It will be a tough one for Wallace.

Juliano is an experienced fighter, coming in with a 5–3 record. But Wallace has an idea on how to stop the 27-year-old fighter.

“He definitely has the experience but I feel wrestling is the great equalizer, and if you’re a good wrestler, you can win any match,” Wallace said. “I know it’s going to be tough to win because he’s a good fighter, but I truly believe if I wrestle the way I can, I can beat anyone. That’s how I’m going into this fight.”

Wallace loved wrestling. He did it in high school and later did it at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. But after one year at the school, he decided it was time to give the fighting thing a shot.

Obviously, punching, kicking and choking people is much different than trying to pin someone’s shoulders to the ground, but Wallace has found a lot of success in his new sport.

The ultimate goal is to someday become a professional, but right now he’s working out the kinks at the novice level.

“I’m very competitive, so I like to win,” Wallace said. “When I decided to give it a chance, I was ready. It wasn’t exactly like wrestling, I think wrestling pushes you harder during the match because you don’t get breaks. In wrestling, you try to get the guy down and then you have to always make a move. In fighting, you aren’t always trying to score points.

“It’s hard, but it’s different. Fighting is hard. But the more I do it, the more comfortable I’m getting.”

It helps that he started off on the right foot.

In his first bout, Wallace had the better of the fight for two rounds, but in the third round he found himself locked in a choke. Though he never tapped out, he did eventually lose consciousness and lost the battle.

He had mixed feelings after the fight. He wasn’t happy with the result, but he was happy with his showing.

“When you have fights, you want to do well and in that fight, I was winning,” Wallace said. “I just got caught in a bad spot and lost. You feel better but you still don’t want to lose. But I was happy I did well, and then it felt good to win the next two.

“I didn’t tap out, he put me out. Getting choked out isn’t too bad, you just go out for a few seconds. It’s not like getting knocked out. I’ve never been knocked out, luckily, and I don’t want to find out what that’s like.”

Now he wants to find out what it’s like to win a championship.

Though still very young, this could be the springboard to good things. But, right now, Juliano is in his way.

“It’s going to be a very tough fight, and I’m really happy to have a chance to fight for a championship,” Wallace said. “I’m working very hard. I’ve been training a lot, and this is a great opportunity. It will be a tough fight, but I’m ready.”

He’s also ready to help train the next generation of wrestlers, something he began doing this year when he took over as head coach of New Foundations Charter High School.

The new position was the perfect way to grow as a wrestler, while helping kids follow in his footsteps.

“I love it,” Wallace said. “It’s great because it makes me better. If you’re going to coach someone, you have to have perfect technique, so I have to always work on that. And when I’m helping the kids, I’m making myself better, so it works there.

“I’m lucky that I have a great support network in my family and friends that I’m able to do these things. They’re helping me as I try and live out this dream, and coaching is part of that.”

For tickets to the fight, email cwallace@us.imshealth.com