Meet The Young Man Who Overcame Brain Surgery To Become Champion Wrestler

A young man in Rockford, Illinois, is being recognized for his bravery and determination in the face of unthinkable challenges.

When Boylan Catholic High School wrestler Dathan Wickson Jr. was 10-years-old, he fell off a couch and hit his head on a coffee table, according to USA Today.

“Doctors closed the wound, and Wickson seemed to be fine. For the next five years, he played football and wrestled, two of the most physically demanding sports there are,” the article read.

However, the teen began experiencing headaches in March 2018 and tests showed that when he hit his head on the table years before, it left a crack in his skull.

The crack caused a cyst to develop and it was leaking spinal fluid which meant Wickson needed brain surgery.

“I was really scared at first because I never think I have to have brain surgery,” he recalled. “Then, when it started to come down to it [surgery day], my family was really close to me and telling me everything was going to be OK.”

Following the surgery to remove the cyst that had become a tumor, Wickson tried getting back into wrestling that fall but occasional headaches forced him to sit out the entire season.

Later at his first practice in 2019, he was kneed in the head right where he had had surgery.

But by late December, Wickson was wrestling again and won nine matches in a row and also qualified for the Illinois state wrestling tournament.

“I don’t like to sit back and watch what other people do, and I can’t do anything. It was a really tough time, but I knew I had to get back out there on the mat,” he said of his recovery.

Thursday during USA Today’s High School Sports Award show, Olympic wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs presented the young man with the Courage Award.

“You might not see yourself as a leader, you might not see yourself as a motivational individual. But your story is inspiring and when people hear it, they’re going to love it,” Burroughs told Wickson over the phone.

“And they’re going to want to be their best because they’ve watched you be your best,” he concluded.