I have been asked this question at least a thousand times now, “how did you come up with a back flip defense to a single leg?” I like to think I was creative in all aspects of my wrestling especially on my single leg defense, but the truth is I stole the back flip from someone else. I guess I get the credit for move since the age of youtube but seeing the move live myself was highly impressive.
My sophomore year in high school I went and competed in the Midlands Tournament at Northwestern University. During that event, I was in the stands watching two well-put together wrestlers get after each other. They were 142lb I think and were really brawling it out. One of the wrestlers was Towsend Saunders of ASU, who would later go on to take a silver medal in the 1996 Olympic games. The other and I just learned his name from one of my members about a year ago was Rich Bailey of Cal-Bakersfield.
Now, I’m watching this match unfold and finally Towsend gets a single leg on Bailey and has it up in the air. Bailey all of the sudden hits probably the most perfect back flip I have ever seen and slides right down to Towsend’s ankles. I jumped out of my seat when he hit the counter but to my amazement nobody else seemed to be impressed by what just happened. Being a high school kid at a prestigious event surrounded by college wrestlers who probably wanted to tear my head off, I tried to play it off acting cool and sat back down in my seat.
The position was finally stalemated and Bailey had saved himself from giving up the takedown. The match continues and probably about a minute later (it’s been a long time ago) Saunders once again has Bailey hopping around on one foot. Seeing it done once was amazing to me but Bailey hit the flip a second time in the same match. He gave me and instant replay that I will never forget!
I have always had a passion for technique and hitting the unusual or the unthinkable so the counter Bailey left imprinted in my mind stuck with me. I never practiced the back flip, it wasn’t about could I do the move since I was able hit a back flip easily, it was more about did I have the guts to flip upside down and not break my neck in the process.
We had a tri-meet about two weeks later my sophomore season, which was when I first hit the back flip during a match. The next time I hit the flip was my senior year in the state finals, which is the one many of you have viewed on youtube. The term “Kolat Flip” is used a lot now when referring to that move but now you know the truth; I stole the move from Rich Bailey back in 1990.
I guess my question to Rich is did he create the move or did he steal it?
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