Who is Mateusz Wolny?
Who is Mateusz Wolny?
He was in hell, at least that's how it felt for him. In the semi-final rematch against Schorndorf, he was down 0-3 to reigning German champion Karan Mosebach with 3 minutes left in his bout. ASV Schorndorf led 14-4 against Mainz and his defeat would have shattered the 88ers' finals dreams. But Wolny didn't think about losing for a second. He marched and moved Mosebach incessantly on the mat, but the German national team wrestler did not let him get a score. The drama in the Spartans' fighting arena intensified, but despite the overwhelming superiority of the man from Mainz, referee Andre Schedler did not indicate any passivity for the man from Schorndorf.
However, just before the last minute of the fight dawned, mat president Jeffrey Spiegel stepped in and penalized the Schorndorfer for inactivity. Wolny received a point, reduced to 1:3, and got the chance to turn Mosebach on the ground. At first, the Spartan successfully defended himself against the Mainzer, but then he managed with his last effort the turn to equalize 3:3 and with it the victory. Only his success made the following catch-up of the Mainzer possible, which finally led to the final.
Mateusz Wolny stands out. This may be due to his more than 40 tattoos, but anyone who talks to him immediately notices that this man is something special.
Leo, as he is called by everyone, is not a quiet person and he doesn't want to be. He is extroverted and likes to be the center of attention. Still, he leaves room for others and lets them succeed alongside him. He is unconventional and spontaneous. Up for a challenge at any time, no matter who it comes from. Some people think he is crazy. Mateusz says about himself, "I am crazy". Being normal is not normal for him.
The Pole, who also has a German passport, is very popular on the team. You could almost think he is the social glue in his team in Mainz. He motivates and supports his teammates where he can. Especially during the playoffs, he has pushed his team to success in the locker room and on social media. By that, he led the team to the finals in his first season. What can we expect from him this season?
In this interview, we want to know more about him, who he is, how he got into wrestling and who his famous father is.
Hi Leo, at what age did you start wrestling?
I was 4 years old when I went on the mat for the first time. But I didn't start until I was 10.
What made you want to be a wrestler in the first place?
My father was a professional wrestler, and he always took me with him when he went to the wrestling hall. I also went with him when he went to tournaments. In addition, where I live is quite small and the sport of wrestling is very popular. So, I inevitably came to this sport.
Your father is Ryszard Wolny, Olympic Champion 1996 in Greco-Roman style, European Champion, and multiple medal winner at World Championships. What is your relationship with him?
He was my idol and hero. I always wanted to be like him and looked up to him. He is my best friend, coach, mentor, and listener. No matter what problem I have, I can always count on him. He has always encouraged me and believed in me
Did you ever feel pressure as a wrestler because of his success?
It was like that at the beginning, but that has subsided. There aren't many Olympic champions. You don't repeat that so easily.
How did you come to ASV Mainz 88?
David Bichinashvili and Markus Klingler contacted me and wanted to bring me to Mainz. At that time, I also had several offers from other clubs. I asked some wrestlers about the ASV, and they all gave me positive feedback and encouraged me to accept the offer. But my most important question was: Can Mainz become German Team Champion and the answer was always a clear yes. That's why I joined the team.
Do you see any differences from the other clubs you've wrestled at?
Mainz is incredibly professional in all aspects. The board of directors, the coaching and support team, and the medical department are all very well set up. Nevertheless, everything is very family-like, and I feel very comfortable here. Many wrestlers in Mainz have become my friends. To be clear, everyone on this team believes in the strength of the team. It is not an exaggeration when I call us brothers. Everyone gives everything for success. What do they say in Germany? One for all, all for one!
It's nice that you know German phrases. Speaking of which, don't you have a German passport?
Yes, both my grandfathers are German. Racibórz, where I live, used to be a German town and therefore many people of German descent still live there. So, I am half-Pole and half-German.
What differences do you see between the two countries?
Poles are much more traditional and religious than Germans. The standard of living in Germany is of course higher. For me, Germany is the leading country in Europe.
Can you make a living as a wrestler?
No, I'm a full-time soldier and coach in my home club, which is also one of the best Polish Olympic training bases ever. That's how I earn my living.
Footballers don't have to work on top of their sport. Do you think it's unfair that wrestling is not so popular?
Yeah, it's like that. Football is a team sport, and you can have a bad day and still win the match. In wrestling you're on your own, you can't have any weaknesses, or you'll lose. The salaries that are paid in football are crazy and incomprehensible compared to us.
What do you spend your money on and what is luxury to you?
Oh man, I spend a lot of money on clothes. Mostly at Zara, that's my favorite brand. And of course, for traveling, parties, and everything fun.
What was the most unnecessary thing you ever bought?
I have quite often bought nonsensical things that seemed to make a lot of sense at the time.
You are very popular on the team and in the wrestling scene, but most people think you are a crazy guy. How does that fit together?
That's all right. I get along well with everyone and anyone who has been on the road with me knows that I can be crazy. There is this story where a fan asked me if I would like to spontaneously fly with him to Barcelona. The next day I sat next to him on a plane, and it was a great experience.
What was the craziest thing you ever did?
There's a crazy story that happened to me in Las Vegas. We went to a crazy party after the fights at the World Championships. Athletes of all nations were invited, there was a nice big swimming pool and... But well, you know: "What happened in Vegas stays in Vegas".
And what would you wish to undo?
Nothing. I'm very happy with my life. I have a great girlfriend, and a good job, I'm just happy.
Is there anything special in your life that you still want to do?
I want to travel. Around the world. To Australia, New Zealand, or Fiji. There are so many places I still want to discover.
Your body is full of tattoos. Do they all have a meaning for you and are there more to come?
I have a total of 45 tattoos and only about 20% have any meaning to me. My father's name, my girlfriend's name, and religious tattoos because my faith is very important to me. The rest are tattoos I just like - crazy and funny illustrations. I just think my body looks nicer with the tattoos and I don't know any other wrestler who has nearly as many tattoos as I do. There will be 20-25 more to come.
Why do you always wear different colored socks in the fights?
I always wear different colored socks. I get asked about it a lot, even on the team. I'm like: “This is my style - The Leo Style”.
You always want to win; how do you feel about your victories or even defeats?
When I win, I'm very happy because I don't just go on the mat for myself. My victory also belongs to the team, the fans, and the club. When I lose, I'm heartbroken, then I want to go straight back into training so that I can improve and be successful again next time.
During the playoffs, you often made funny videos where you shared battle announcements to our opponents on Instagram or also pushed your teammates. How did that come about?
Well, I'm a competitive guy and I love to put all the cards on the table. If everything is done respectfully, you can have a public spat. That's what I liked to do. I also wrote to my teammates before each fight, motivating them and trying to give them positive reinforcement.
You like to spend your time on Instagram, is it a must today for any athlete who wants to communicate with others?
It's not a must, but I am very active in media. I like to spend my time on Instagram or Facebook. They are good ways to share or communicate with others. Before our fights, I also try to motivate our fans and my team with videos. I am also very happy about the feedback from our followers.
And how else do you spend your time when you're not wrestling or currently on Instagram?
I like to party and dance. You can say that I am a party animal. I can't do anything with boredom, there must always be something going on. I like to travel to other cities or countries. And of course, I spend a lot of time with my girlfriend Karolina. She's a great woman. I want to have at least three children with her. Two boys and a girl. The names are already decided (Leon, Leff, and Lea). We'll start the project next year or maybe a year later. We'll see.
If you hadn't become a wrestler, what other sport would have interested you?
I am a football enthusiast and a big fan of FC Bayern. I had a big poster of Lothar Matthäus when I was younger, I could have imagined that. But as a wrestler, I am clearly better.
The Ringerbundesliga has again increased in quality. In our season strong teams like Köllerbach, Adelhausen, and Urloffen have joined. What is possible for ASV Mainz 88 in the next round?
What place did we finish last year again? 2nd place? Yeah, what can I say, there's more to come. Personally, I will continue to try to be an important part of the team and support everyone so that we are strong together and succeed together.
Could you imagine Mainz being your last Bundesliga club?
Absolutely. That's what I want. I want to finish my career in Mainz at some point.
By Karani Kutlu