Greco-Roman Wrestling Champ RC Johnson

Introducing Greco-Roman champ R.C. Johnson

Until 30-year-old Plymouth native RC Johnson “starts getting beat,” he isn’t going to quit wrestling

A 2000 graduate of Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, Johnson attended Northern Michigan University before venturing to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he is completing his PhD in computer science. Those with a thesis on voice transcription are not usually thought of as top Greco-Roman style wrestlers, but then Johnson is not your average geek or jock—or nerd, for that matter.

In April, after numerous international competitions, Johnson placed first in the Greco-Roman Olympic Trials for the 96k weight class (about 211 pounds), making him eligible to compete in the London 2012 Olympics. But when a fellow wrestler didn’t qualify in the World of Wrestling Tournament, Johnson’s spot as an Olympic contender was forfeited.

A missed opportunity might mess with an athlete mentally, but Johnson remains optimistic. His advice for kids who dream of competing in the Olympics? “Keep at it; don’t be discouraged,” he says. “Stay focused, and stay positive.”

Johnson says the travel eight to 10 times a year, and friendships he has made along the way motivate him to keep active. “I can go to any number of countries and crash on a friends couch for a couple of days,” he says.

Johnson doesn’t know how much longer he will wrestle himself—a six-day-a-week training regimen takes its toll—but he plans to create wrestling camps in the future. A volunteer coach at a high school in Colorado, Johnson says he wouldn’t mind coming back to coach in the Plymouth area, adding it’s important to “help out and give back to the next generation.” —Katie Rucke