Post Bulletin Sports
By Pat Ruff
Wrestling has helped former drug addict turn his life around
Richard Jensen figures he’s landed in Rochester this weekend for a greater good. Jensen and five of his Clackamas Community College (Molalla, Ore.) teammates are here today and Saturday trying to achieve the same dream. They are pursuing individual championships in the junior college national wrestling tournament at UCR Regional Sports Center. But after the life Jensen has led, this weekend -and really, these past two years -is about more than himself. Jensen has seen to that.
That’s why he has interrupted Clackamas wrestling practices more than once the last two years. He’s done it to tell his story. That at age 37, it’s not too late to start your life over again, no matter how dark that life has been. “There is definitely a piece of me that thinks I’ve been put here for a greater purpose,” said Jensen, whose rugged good looks, and clear, earnest replies belie what had been 15 years of methamphetamine addiction.
“There is definitely a piece of me that thinks I’ve been put here for a greater purpose,” said Jensen, whose rugged good looks, and clear, earnest replies belie what had been 15 years of methamphetamine addiction. “There are people out there who gave me hope. Now I feel the need to pass that same hope on to other people. My wrestling, it’s not just about sports.
For Jensen, wrestling at all at this stage of his life seems like a fairy tale. Heck, even his Clackamas head coach is nine years younger than him. But one year ago, after spending most of his post-high school life in the darkest places, Jensen decided it was time to search for light.
Looking for clarity
Three years removed from a 13 month jail sentence for drug charges – some of the five total years that Jensen has spent behind bars- Jensen knew where to go. A former standout wrestler at Tigard (Ore.) High School, Jensen needed to find a wrestling room. Because before spinning into a life of methamphetamine use and the “monster” that he said the drug created, Jensen recalled being his happiest as a high school wrestler. He wanted that again, despite being 36 pounds heavier than his current 184, and just four years shy of his 40th birthday.
When he showed up for that first Clackamas practice, his new teammates and coaches weren’t sure what to think. At 36, he was old enough to be a father to most the them.
The other things was, the team was lied up on a track, about to do a 3-mile run. Jensen lined up too, but without any running shores. No matter, he went ahead with it anyway, completing the distance- barefoot. The Cougars knew then that they either had a strange character on their hands, or the toughest and most inspirational guy they’d ever been around. It didn’t take long to discover it was the latter. “He’s a huge inspiration to everyone,” said Clackamas assistant coach Brett Born, Jensen’s primary workout partner.
After using this past summer to push himself into the best possible shape, Jensen is now a rock-solid 184-pounder with a legitimate shot at winning a national title. He’s made that his goal. But whatever happens, Jensen knows that he has met this top objective. That’s to have established clarity in his life.
The 37-year-old has done it as a member of the Clackamas Cougars wrestling team.