Five-year-old Lilly Genzen from Iowa loves to wrestle, but when it comes to competitions she usually finds herself wrestling older boys with more experience. So, the outcome of each match is usually the same—she’s pinned within a few seconds.
So, when she got to practice her moves for much longer in a recent tournament, everyone was shocked. Especially when they found out why her young opponent had given her a chance.
Lilly has only been wrestling for a few months, but loves it.
Lilly is a ball of energy and loves to bring that energy to the wrestling mat. Unfortunately for her, due to her weight and the lack of kids in her age group, she finds herself wrestling more experienced boys.
“It’s hard, but I like wrestling, except I don’t like it when I lose because I put a lot of effort into it,” she told WHO TV.
Although she’s still learning, most of her opponents have years of experience.
The 5-year-old is still learning the fundamentals of wrestling and rarely gets the opportunity to practice her skills during a competition. It typically takes only a few seconds before she’s pinned and the match is over.
A recent opponent surprised her when he didn’t immediately pin her.
During a competition in December, Lilly was up against 8-year-old Anthony Knott. Her chances of winning against him were very slim.
Within moments Anthony had an opportunity to win, but rather than end the match before it even got started Anthony gave Lily the opportunity to get back on her feet.
Anthony refrained from pinning Lilly so she could practice her moves.
Lilly’s parents, Eric and Holly Genzen, were shocked, but also very thankful.
“It was such a privilege to get to see her have an opponent like this,” Eric, who is currently battling brain cancer, said. “He knew she didn’t stand a chance at beating him, so he was kind to her, but he didn’t realize it might be the longest match I ever got to watch her.”
Holly told WHO TV that she was happy to see her daughter be able to walk off the mat and not be discouraged. And even though she still placed last in the tournament, she had a smile on her face.
No one told Anthony to take it easy on Lilly; he did it because he chose to.
While Lilly’s parents were surprised at Anthony’s gesture, the 8-year-old’s father and coach weren’t too shocked because that’s just the type of kid he is.
Following the match, Anthony told his father he let Lilly wrestle because he wanted her to be able to learn.
“I wanted to give her an opportunity to gain experience,” Anthony said. “How would she ever learn if she’s only going to wrestle for a few seconds?”
It was a special moment for all involved.
For Eric it was more than just an act of good sportsmanship.
“It was right before Christmas, I just don’t think he realizes how awesome he made the holiday season,” he told WHO TV.