PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- With the way wrestling techniques influence hand-to-hand combat practices, it’s no wonder one of last week’s graduates, a wrestling champion throughout his high-school career, excelled in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program during recruit training.<br /> <br /> Pfc. Antwan Simmons, a squad leader with Platoon 1048, Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, discovered his interest for the sport of wrestling when he was in fifth grade, and it quickly became a passion that followed him throughout middle school and high school.<br /> <br /> Simmons said for him, the most enjoyable part of any type of fighting sport is the friendly competition.<br /> <br /> “Each time you compete in wrestling you’re going to get better,” Simmons said. “Even if you lose a match, you walk away with more knowledge. MCMAP is the same way.<br /> <br /> MCMAP was the best part of training, Simmons said. “My favorite part was the grappling and all of the ground-fighting techniques.”<br /> <br /> Simmons said a lot of the MCMAP techniques incorporated some of the fundamentals of wrestling basics.<br /> <br /> “I noticed a lot of the techniques require leverage – just like wrestling,” Simmons explained. “You want to get lower than your opponent and use body weight against him.”<br /> <br /> Throughout his three months here, Simmons channeled the same energy he used to convey confidence in his wrestling matches in the daily, grueling tasks of recruit training.<br /> <br /> “When I would get on the mat before a match, I would get in the zone,” Simmons said. “But when I first got here, I felt like a deer in headlights. Now I kind of enjoy it. You’re here for so long that it becomes all you know.”<br /> <br /> His high school wrestling coach from Baptist Hill High School in Hollywood, S.C., Herbert Singleton, said he is excited to see his student’s Marine Corps career unfold and that his time as wrestling team captain helped shape his foundation as a leader.<br /> <br /> “He was a motivator,” Singleton said. “The guys on the team looked up to him. He would always start the training before I got there. It was like he was their second coach. He was well-respected among his peers.”<br /> <br /> Singleton said the reverence his teammates had for Simmons probably stemmed from his determination.<br /> <br /> “There was one match where his opponent had him pinned, and it looked like he was going to lose, but he came back. He was determined,” Singleton said. “He turned around a losing situation.”<br /> His fellow recruits looked up to him the same way his wrestling teammates did.<br /> <br /> “He’s been a squad leader since training day 12,” said Gunnery Sgt. Marshall Johnson, Simmons’ senior drill instructor. “He was a good leader. He could move recruits and help correct them on their free time.”<br /> <br /> Johnson said Simmons was an exceptional recruit who was well-rounded mentally and physically.<br /> <br /> “He was one of those recruits you don’t have to spend a lot of time on. He had a high [physical fitness test] score and a high [combat fitness test] score,” Johnson said. “I’m sure he was tired at times, but he never let it show physically.<br /> <br /> “All of the guides and squad leaders who continue on the same path they’re on when they leave recruit training will blossom, and he’s one of them,” he added.