Amed Castro-Chavez, a senior at Estherville-Lincoln Central High School in Spencer, Iowa, could have walked away with an easy victory for himself and his wrestling team via forfeit at a meet in January. But he aimed for something higher than points or a win on a scoreboard. He aimed for a gesture of honor and sportsmanship that has touched the hearts of thousands around the country.
Castro-Chavez was wrestling in the 220-pound class in a meet that pitted Estherville-Lincoln Central High against its Spencer High School rivals and was slotted to compete against Spencer High's Austin Roberts, a known powerhouse of an athlete and something of a local legend.
But tragedy had struck the Roberts family the month before when their 18-year-old son suddenly collapsed on the mat at another meet. He later died in the hospital. He was remembered by his coaches as a young man whose "kindness [was] unmatched by anyone" in a statement given to The Des Moines Register shortly after his passing.
Spencer High School was unable to fill the slot left by Roberts and Castro-Chavez could have accepted their forfeit, which would have added a victory to his stats and awarded his team six points, The Sioux City Journal reports.
But rather than walk to the center of the mat and accept the victory, Castro-Chavez chose instead to cross to the Spencer High bleachers and hug his fallen rival's mother, forfeiting the victory to Spencer and the memory of Austin Roberts.
His act of kindness was applauded throughout Iowa and later, throughout America, and was honored for his sportsmanship with Musial Award and as the Des Moines Register's first All-Iowa Athlete of the Year.