Mich. middle-school wrestler with autism gets win in cool display of sportsmanship

A Michigan middle-school wrestler with autism has been doing the sport he loves since he was barely in school. Still, he had never won a match.

Until recently, that is. MLive.com has this great story of sportsmanship.

Since joining the wrestling team in kindergarten, Benjamin Bauman has been an active participant in Hamilton, Mich. Still, the eighth grader at Hamilton Middle School was in search of his first win. Although his disorder presents challenges, he has stuck with wrestling.

Recently, during an exhibition match with Muskegon (Mich.) Middle School, the hard work paid off in the form of a pin during an exhibition match. Bauman was paired up with Muskegon captain Mar’taven Hardy, and per MLIve, the events that followed took everyone by surprise and created an inspirational moment for all in attendance.

Hardy let Bauman get the pin for the win in the second period of the match, with the winner pumping his fist to the crowd. Hardy then hugged his opponent and applauded his victory.

“I was absolutely shocked, I couldn’t believe it,” Benjamin’s mother, Julie Bauman, told MLive. “Anytime he lasts longer on the mat, he’s happy about it so we’re happy. So when he got a pin, I was just stunned.

“It’s built his confidence up, he’s proud of himself and he’s always been a happy kid, but lately he’s been really happy.”

When Muskegon coach Matthew Bolles learned what weight class the day’s star was in, the Muskegon coach knew Hardy would be an ideal opponent.

“He’s the perfect kid. I knew Mar’taven would roll with it because he can see the big picture,” Bolles told MLive. “He did a great job of working with him and making him earn it. Even if this match would have counted for points, we would have done the same thing.”

The pun shocked the winner himself perhaps more than anyone.

“I was surprised, but it was fun,” Bauman told MLive. “My coach said I could do it this year.”

You can read the rest of the inspiring MLive story here.