Wrestler Gives Up Perfect Record For Special Needs Opponent

| by Sheena Vasani
Deven SchukoDeven Schuko

An undefeated Massachusetts high school wrestler gave up his legacy out of kindness towards his opponent.

State champion Deven Schuko agreed to fight Andy Howland, 21, who has Down syndrome reports Inquistr.

“I asked the coach, and he said he thought that would be a great idea,” said Schuko, who is also an honor student. “We just wanted to make his day.”

When the match began, Howland quickly pinned Schuko to the floor, giving him his first loss.

“We shook hands and we locked up and he was a tough kid and he bulldogged me over to my back. I couldn’t stop the power,” Schuko said. “He was strong … If I had to lose to someone, I’d like to lose to [him]. It was a win-win in my book. He won, I won.”

Parent Anthony Pucino caught the incident on camera, and the video went viral after he posted it on his Facebook on Jan. 24.

“This is a video of what a team captain and leader looks like. [Deven] Schuko, a senior with a 27-0 record this year, a young man who earned his 100th career win a few days ago to join the century club at [Norton High School], took the time to make a dream come true for young wrestler with special needs from Dighton Rehoboth's team. So proud to have witnessed this. Truly a special young man,” he said.

Howland is due to retire from his wrestling career soon, making this win even more special for him. He hopes to become an assistant coach.

Howland's mother said she was grateful for Schuko's act of kindness.

“I think the message is sportsmanship is alive and well today and it’s because kids are accepting kids like Andrew wholeheartedly,” she said.

Schuko says he is humbled by the attention.

“I’ve been in sports all my life and wrestling I believe is most demanding and for someone like Andy to wrestle and stick with it, I wanted to make his day. It’s humbling I guess and pretty cool for all the attention for a simple act of kindness,” he said.

Sources: Inquistr, Anthony Pucino/Facebook / Photo credit: The Sun Chronicle

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