My world changed on July 19, 2008. Carrie and I were looking for some old wrestling pictures for a former wrestler of mine. As we were looking, she found an envelope in a box of pictures. I had written this letter to myself on April 26, 1988. It was a letter that I had written after coming back from the Olympic Trials. I had written five letters to myself and told my mother to place them in an area that I would find them someday. She placed this one letter in a folder of pictures. I haven’t found the other four, but this one was found. The following is the first letter written at the age of 23.
April 26, 1988 Open after age 40 Sam Chagolla
I just finished coming back from the Olympic Trials. My father brought me to Las Vegas to help coach me. I weighed in at 142 and felt that cutting down to 136.5 was just too hard. I didn’t have the workout partners to really accomplish the goal. It was difficult doing the teaching full time and trying to train hard. I basically failed!
Yes, I failed to accomplish the goal of representing my country and state. I don’t make excuses for my losses, but they were just too big for me at 149.5. These guys were cutting from about 185 or more to wrestle 149.5. I just felt I could hang with them regardless of the weight and I was wrong. I looked at the 136.5 pound wrestlers and I had beaten some of them earlier in my career. I think I could have made the final wrestle offs, with John Smith and whoever was there. I don’t think I could have beaten them, but I would have had a better shot at the lower weight.
It will never feel like I accomplished my very best. My father saw me get hammered by these wrestlers that I should have beaten. It was a humbling day for me.
The question is what is next? I don’t know! I keep asking myself…am I successful? It’s hard for people to understand that I need a challenge in my life or I feel empty. Mr. Koury has made me an analyzer. I hope if I stay coaching wrestling that I become a better coach because of Mr. Koury. I want to be the best at whatever I do in my life. My goal is to help win a couple of state championships for Peoria High School. It’s my time to retire from the wrestling arena and start to develop champions. I hope my nephews will eventually wrestle. My dream is to help them become better than me. I know if they listen, it will happen. I want them to get an education and become successful people, because life is so tough. My family has always supported me in my career. I hope they will continue to do so. I just wonder what they think of me now. I have sacrificed a lot to be where I am today. I hope they respect this about me.
I have always been quiet and to myself because people have never understood me. I didn’t need the drugs or parties to be happy. I just needed the workouts to feel good. It will be interesting how my high school classmates see me on my 10 year reunion. I’m a loner that just wants to win in life.
I’ve never really been able to keep a steady relationship because I’m so serious about what I do in life. I just want to be successful. I’m driven to be the best that I can be in life. I don’t have a lot of guy friends because they don’t understand me. Girls just seem to understand that I have a vision of doing the best I can in life and I don’t want to fail. I want out of poverty.
Whoever I get married to will have to understand that wrestling is a big part of my life. I hope God finds the right person for me. I’ve had some tough relationships, but all things work out for the good. I’m sure I’ll meet someone who has never seen me wrestle, but I hope she hears about who I really was in my past. If I’m healthy at the age of 45, I will train to wrestle in a big national wrestling tournament. Maybe if I’m healthy and daring, I can just enjoy the battle of the sport of wrestling. I don’t know if this will happen, but I’m a dreamer. I hope someday my nephews and my wife will support me in this endeavor.
Lastly, I hope I have not let Mr. Koury down. I have gone to college and now I will help him produce champions. He did this for me so it’s my turn to give back. I hope God will help me get past the failure of the Olympics Trials. It’s tough writing this, but I hope this will help me heal. I hope to read this after the age of 40. I will always be an athlete, but helping others will be my life goal.
April 26, 1988
P.S. God will provide!
I hope my wife gets to see me coach and wrestle some day. My health will depend on this goal.