Wrestle In My Shoes

Making Sure NO Wrestler is Left Behind

Wrestle In My Shoes is a non-profit focused on breaking down the economic barriers that prevent children of low income families from participating in wrestling due to a lack of basic equipment, by collecting and distributing equipment to kids in need.

In The News- Star Ledger

11-year-old Joe Butler vividly remembers the scene of wrestlers sharing wrestling shoes at a national-level tournament last spring. 

"I remember seeing the wrestlers sharing shoes and wondered, 'Why are they doing that?' " Butler said. "I thought about what I could do to help. I asked my father why they didn't have their own shoes, he gave me the reason why and I asked him if we could start a company to help donate shoes for them."

Butler's ambition led to the formation of Wrestle In My Shoes, a non-profit organization which donates wrestling shoes to wrestlers who cannot afford them.

Since starting Wrestle In My Shoes one year ago, Butler's company has donated over 700 pairs of shoes, equivalent to $40,000 of merchandise.

Any wrestler can donate shoes and Wrestle In My Shoes will cover the cost of shipping to New Jersey and shipping back out to the shoes' recepients. 

"We've had an overwhelming amount of support for what we've been trying to do," Joe's father Joe said. "Joe Pollard at Rutgers was a huge help for us. He was one of our initial donors. He helped us get about 20 pairs of wrestling shoes to donate. Not from the school, but from the kids' collections. I sometimes wonder how many district, region and state medals had been won in those shoes."

"Also Gary Mezzacapo of Iron Horse. He came and dropped off 40 singlets and 40 pairs of shoes at my doorstep without being asked or anything."

Most of the shoes, Mr. Butler said, end up in the midwest. 

"We've dealt a lot with charter school systems," Mr. Butler said. "We've done a lot with schools out in the midwest. The shoes are going out to Clevland and Cincinatti, Ohio. We've done a lot in Minneapolis as well."

"We actually were able to ship a pair of shoes out to the midwest, this poor kid lives with his grandmother. His father is in jail for murdering his mother. He was a two-time state champion and had been wearing the same shoes he had worn since eighth grade. We were able to send some shoes out to him."


Joe Butler (left) with Jake Herbert

The Butlers' cause has drawn national attention. Shortly after the company launched, it obtained a partnership with Flips Wrestling headphones. Flips has helped Wrestle In My Shoes team up with Olympians Coleman Scott and Jake Herbert, among other notable figures in the wrestling community. 

"It feels great," Joe said. "It feels great to be able to help these kids."

Our "Knights in Shining Armor"

As we enter another year of college wrestling everyone is putting every moment into match preparation and making sure that every possible second is spent getting ready to ascend the podium.  Well the staff and coaches at Rutgers University and the Scarlet Knight Wrestling Club (SKWC) have found a way to expand the day past 24hrs.

We have been very fortunate over the years to have a close association with several of the Rutgers wrestlers due to our sons wrestling for Coach Rivera at Elite Wrestling in NJ.  For those of you who don't know Steve Rivera and the kids he produces....do yourself a favor and come to the "Barn" one night and see some of the highest level wrestling you are ever going to see.  Coach Rivera has been a huge pipeline of candidates for Rutgers over the years and has done wonders for my two sons as well.

During casual discussions with some of the guys at RU, including Coach Joe Pollard, who runs SKWC , they decided to spring into action and help without anyone asking.  As of today the wrestlers have donated over 30 pairs of their personal shoes; we cannot even imagine how many District/Region/State Titles were won in those shoes.  Within 2 days of receiving their shoes we received a distress call from a H.S. coach in Minnesota who lost funding from his school to get his team shoes.  Within 48hrs his team was 100% covered with shoes and headgear donated from the Rutgers Wrestling Team.  We were so thankful for this assistance and this team in Minnesota can now just worry about training and winning!!!

Fast forward a few weeks..... The Knights decided to help out once again!!!!  Coach Goodale and the staff have asked our sons to be "honorary" team captains for the Scarlet Knights home opener on 12/17 against Boston University at College Avenue Gym (The Barn).  They are going to be helping get the word out and get donations up.... at this point we are getting more requests than e have equipment.  We cannot thank Coach Goodale and his team enough for getting behind the idea of an 11 year old youth wrestler.

The Power of One


Often times people think that they cannot make a difference in the world or they revert back to the mentality of "it takes a village to raise a child".....I sit here typing telling you that this is NONSENSE!!!  Anyone can make a difference if they truly care and WANT to make a difference.  Its not always about curing the woes of the world as a whole but just helping one person or showing one person you care....that can have a ripple effect that can change a collective way of thought or how we act.

We were fortunate enough today to attend a practice at Beat the Streets-NYC on Thompson Street and see first hand who the boys are helping with "Wrestle In My Shoes" and what this program means to kids who participate in it.  For those of you know are unfamiliar with Beat the Streets they are an organization across the U.S. that uses amateur wrestling as a way to help kids pursue their goals and to stay out of trouble.  These kids are given an amazing atmosphere  to learn in and given WORLD CLASS coaching from volunteers.  On top of a great athletic surroundings the kids are also given assistance with their academics, guidance counseling, people to talk to about any and everything and a supportive and nurturing place to call their own.

When coming up with a topic for today's blog post I was reminded of a documentary about former UFC Champion Evan Tanner who died a few years ago in a tragic accident.  Evan believed that EVERYONE had the power to help and that we if we just believe we can make it happen.  Evan's legacy still lives on today in this documentary where we see someone who truly does things for unselfish reasons and believes in the "Power of One".  I attached a link above for a trailer for the piece on YouTube....enjoy!!!

How we got started

This article published on www.elitewrestlingnj.com was the spark that sent us into action: 



Wrestling: What the Sport Means to Me

Competing in the sport of wrestling has virtually defined my life.  At the age of seven, when I began wrestling, I enjoyed the excitement and competition of the sport and the quality time that it afforded for me to interact with my six brothers – who all wrestled also.  However, then I did not understand the many, possible benefits of wrestling and certainly not its positive, life-altering potential.  For me wrestling has become more than simply another sport of fun and wins and losses, as it was when I began competing. Rather, it has become a lifestyle filled with endless opportunities, crucial life lessons and life-changing experiences.

Growing up in a city plagued with gang violence and troubled with a failing school system, I soon understood that wrestling would provide me the opportunity to overcome many obstacles of my negative environment.  The sport became a safe haven in which I could comfortably and even enjoyably reside. As some of my friends turned to gangs, drugs, and other wayward activities, I stuck to wrestling.  I discovered that not only would the sport provide safety in a dangerous city,but athletic success would provide me desirous opportunities if I continued to hard work.  Some of these opportunities I could not have anticipated, for example – traveling.  I had the opportunities to wrestle in California and in Puerto Rico – what re-enforcement that hard work pays off!  Indeed, from my hard work cherished opportunities ensued.

Traveling to compete in wrestling competitions, I have created fond memories with my family and friends.  One of the most memorable moments in my wrestling career did not include my wrestling.  This memorable moment involves my brother wrestling in the state finals.  I sat watching helplessly as my brother, Canaan Bethea, lost 8-3 in the New Jersey State finals.  I will never forget the  ain – the agony – that I felt when I walked into the locker room and saw my brother lying on the floor, in tears.  The look on his face and the aching pain revealed in his eyes left me speechless!  Canaan and I had vowed to motivate, inspire and push, each other to work hard to reach our dreams and goals of becoming New
Jersey State Wrestling Champions. Although he had worked so hard and had come so close to his goal of being state champion, still he had failed!

My poignant experience of watching my brother lose in the state finals not only motivated me to work even more diligently, but it more significantly helped me to understand that genuinely accepting defeat is an indispensable adaptation of being successful in life.  Canaan’s ability to rebound from his loss the next day, and head to school amazed me! He managed somehow to accept that he would never be able to accomplish
his goal of being a state champion, and Canaan moved on to work   towards other goals.  Canaan’s acceptance of his failure to reach his goal and his quickly regained resolve to pursue other goals, including wrestling ones, would later instill me the reality that it is impossible to live life without obstacles, trials, and even failures, and the necessity that I must accept my victories and defeats in life with dignity and integrity.

Indeed, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.  As I pursue my goal of winning a state championship, I am reminded from my empathetic experience of Canaan’s wrestling defeat, that I will face obstacles and trials.  However through his inspiring life-victory of accepting defeat, I vicariously learned to no longer fear failure!Rather, I learned to challenge myself to overcome my trials and obstacles to become successful. My cherished and transforming life lesson, learned in such a painful manner at a wrestling tournament, will resonate with me and inspire me forever! From wrestling I learned the transforming lesson that as in one’s match a wrestler must sometimes physically reset to conquer,in life to succeed one must accept, resolve and reset!

Day One.......

Today is the first day the site is live...... ton more to come...stay tuned!!!  Wanted to thank those who have contributed to the idea and dream that became this site: 


  • Matt Pletcher
  • Doc Brown
  • Steve Rivera
  • Anthony Perotti
  • Joe Pollard
  • VInnie DelleFave
  • Justin Hoch
  • Scott Goodale