2007 Cliff Keen College Invitational

"Wrestling demands extraordinary mental toughness, perseverance, the courage to confront daunting challenges and the will to recover from painful defeats."

Wrestlers Are Warriors (WAW) is a pre- and post-event destination for fans and athletes of amateur wrestling and professional MMA. WAW features photography and analysis from award-winning sports photographer Tony Rotundo and a team of contributing photographers and writers.

The WAW website includes professional photography, interviews, articles, and on-site blog reports from wrestling events around the world. The site includes social media links, yearly event calendars, and high-resolution files that can be made into posters.

Why “Warriors?”

WAW was named for the commitment, dedication, work ethic, pain tolerance, mental toughness, and desire to excel in a combat sport. The name is an expression of that fortitude: Wrestlers truly are warriors both inside and outside the circle. As Dr. Thomas M. Reiter wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about wrestling: "With its +/- 14 weight classes, wrestling embraces all athletes — tall or short, scrawny or stocky, fast or not-so-fast. When it comes to physiques, wrestling is the most accepting of sports. But, when it comes to character, wrestling is the most unforgiving. Wrestling demands extraordinary mental toughness, perseverance, the courage to confront daunting challenges and the will to recover from painful defeats. Our community embodies and transmits to our young people these qualities. It’s our history and culture: hard-working, tough, resilient."

The inspiration for the name "Wrestlers Are Warriors" came about during a match between Steve Luke of Michigan vs Keith Gavin of Pitt at the Cliff Keen Invitational, November 11, 2007, in Las Vegas, NV. The match was a “bloodbath”. Gavin (that year’s national champion), won the match on points, but not without an epic battle that lasted almost 20 minutes due to both wrestlers having to take multiple injury and blood timeouts. The iconic photo of Luke, bandaged and blood, was taken just as a trainer was about to mop blood off his face, and for one instant the refs, coaches, and trainers cleared the way for a clean shot of a very calm Steve Luke getting attended to. That one photo inspired this site.  

Who's In Charge?

The editor-in-chief and owner of the site is Tony Rotundo. He takes a good portion of the photographs, writes most of the copy, and manages the site. WAW has several amazing  photographers on staff who contribute on an as-needed basis.

What makes this site different and why do people love it?

In one word: Pride In Craft! ;^)

WAW puts out a consistently great product, with some of the best wrestling photography in the world, insightful stories and articles, plus a continuous effort to find new ways to present and promote wrestling and MMA. This is not a rumor mill or an aggregator site grabbing other people's content, all of the content is original and carefully curated to give the user confidence that coming back frequently will lead to new, awesome, and meaningful material.

How often is the site updated?

During a big wrestling events you can expect daily (or more frequent) updates, as the season slows down the updates shift to weekly as the photographers shoot other sports (see also athletesarewarriors.com). There is no set schedule to the updates, but usually there’s more chatter leading up to and through an event, then many updates immediately after an event as photos are processed in the days that follow.

What equipment do you use?

All WAW photographers shoot with professional Nikon or Canon gear to guarantee quality photos (see “Why People Love It” above). Tony is a Nikon guy and has several Nikon SLRs (D5, D4s), with a variety of f/2.8 lenses, flashes, transceivers, and all the supporting gear to go with them. His travel bags are collectively over 90 lbs, but he can still fly without checking a bag (most of the time)!

Where else can I find WAW?

You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube here:
Facebook: Tony C Rotundo
Twitter: Tony Rotundo
Instagram: Tony_Rotundo_Wrestling
YouTube: WAW on YouTube

If you are looking for us in print form, WAW photographers are published in most major wrestling magazines, like Amateur Wrestling News, USA Wrestler, and on-line at USA Wrestling (themat.com), FloWrestling, UWW, and InterMat. While there is no set schedule, if you see a great shot in a mag, check to see if it’s one of ours.

Can I Work For WAW?

As a photographer, maybe, if you are serious about taking photos, have professional quality gear, have mad post-processing skills, and have a passion for the sport of wrestling, please get in touch. It helps if you know what FTP stands for, and are bold enough to edit your shots down to a handful of great ones per session. If you have a point and shoot camera and love to upload 1,000 pictures to a Flickr account, maybe not so much, but there’s always hope!

What about that post-processing internship?

Glad you asked! WAW is looking for an intern do some of the post-processing photo work. The end result would be a very firm knowledge of Adobe photo processing products Lightroom and Photoshop. More details to follow…

What is Athletes Are Warriors?

WAW has a companion photography web site for all other sports called Athletes Are Warriors (AAW) (athletesarewarriors.com). Please check it out if you’re a fan of all sports photography.


2012 Irv Oliner Award – Tony Rotundo, wrestlersarewarriors.com
The Irv Oliner Award is presented each year at the Californian High School State Wrestling Championships to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to California Wrestling. The award was presented to WAW photographer and editor Tony Rotundo by Al Fontes on behalf of the California High School Wrestling Coaches Association and TheCaliforniaWrestler.com. A very poor quality video of the presentation taken by Mr. Rotundo is linked here (he is a still photographer after all and cannot be expected to shoot video very well). Here is an interview following the event.

2011 National Wrestling Media Association – Photographer of the Year – Tony Rotundo, wrestlersarewarriors.com Rotundo, who lives in Oakland, Calif., has been a photographer for five years for the award winning Tech-Fall.com website, which posts quality images from all levels of wrestling. In addition, Rotundo’s pictures have appeared in national publications such as USA Wrestler, W.I.N. Magazine, Wrestling USA and Amateur Wrestling News. His work is also used by numerous Div. I wrestling programs to promote their teams. Rotundo, the son of a successful wrestling coach in upstate New York, started wrestling at the age of five. While at Clarence High School, he took sports photography of his teammates and friends for the yearbook. While attending the Univ. of Buffalo, where he was a wrestler, Rotundo also took photography classes. He moved to the West Coast and was out of both wrestling and photography for awhile. He then served four years as wrestling coach at Berkeley High School in California. It was at a high school event where he met John Sachs of Tech-Fall.com and decided to photograph wrestling once again. He has shot many of the major events including the World Championships, the Olympic Trials, the World Team Trials, the NCAA Championships and the California State High School Championships. Rotundo takes special interest in photographing college wrestling, working events such as the Big Ten and Pac-10 championships. He has a background in graphic arts, which assists in his ability to edit and process his pictures into spectacular images. Rotundo currently works as a producer for MX, which makes DVD and Blu-ray discs. He uses his vacation time to travel to wrestling events and provide quality photography to the entire wrestling community. 

All photographs herein © 2007-2019 Tony Rotundo/WrestlersAreWarriors.com. Use by permission only. 

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