Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Meet Professional Wrestler Austin Bell, Rio’s New Head Wrestling Coach

Austin Bell holding his champion belts.

Wanting to share the experience of wrestling with students at Rio, military veteran and pro wrestler Austin Bell has taken the mantle of the head coach of the wrestling team. With 60 kids already on the roster, the new wrestling season looks promising.

Bell, 31, grew up with wrestling and wants to teach aspiring athletes to improve their skills as he seeks to rebuild a program that has not had a team since before Covid. 

“I want to take everything I learned from adversity about never giving up, what it means to fail and pick yourself up again, what it means to try something else,” he said. “That’s what I want to teach.”

 Bell has gone through some of his own adversity, too. During his senior year of high school, he cut 23 pounds from 175 to 152, which left him feeling tired and worn out. In his qualifying match for the state championships, he tore his pectoral muscle. Even though he managed to win the match, his season was over. The devastating injury caused him to lose many scholarships.

His effort to make it as a walk-on at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, ended when the school dropped its wrestling program.

Instead of getting down on myself and letting myself wallow in self-pity,” Bell said. “I decided that I’m gonna change. I’m going to use this as fuel to move on to the next area.”

Bell enlisted in the Air Force, working in ordinance and later as military police, rising to staff sergeant in his eight-year career.

“It taught me discipline because you had to have order,” Bell said. “When it comes to teaching people, when I got to a certain level [of] my military career, I had guys under me that I had to instruct.”

Bell’s time in the military also instilled in him the value of leadership.

“It’s a lot of guidance, a lot of instruction, a lot of order,” he said.

While still in the military, Bell got into pro wrestling as an outlet for his stress and PTSD from his two tours in Afghanistan, a subject he did not want to talk about.

Wrestling under the name Austin Ames–“a little homage to my home state of Iowa”–Bell now competes individually and as part of the Vigilance Committee, the tag team champion at Next Level Pro Wrestling. As if that weren’t enough, he also competes with the Expendables wrestling team sometimes.

Bell wrestles mainly around Northern California and its environs, from the Bay Area to Reno. Last Saturday he defended his tag team title at the Colonial Theater in Sacramento. 

The organizations he wrestles for do not have big TV contracts like WWF; instead, they can be seen on Roku and Zeebo. 

“They pay me to perform, which is only like 20, 40 bucks,” he said. “It’s enough to put gas in my tank and get a cheeseburger at McDonald’s. I don’t really do it for the money. I do it for the fun.”

As for wrestling at Rio, Bell wants students to know that whether they’ve been in the game before or are just starting out, everyone is welcome on his team.

He learned from his own experience with weight loss in high school and won’t let his wrestlers make that mistake

“I’m telling guys, if your body gets to the point where you’re cutting weight and … you just feel sick and tired, we’re going back (up),” Bell said, “because I care more about your health than the whole rest.”

More than winning titles, Bell hopes the athletes on his team improve and gain confidence, but he also wants them to learn important skills like perseverance. And he wants them to have fun.

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Adam Ramirez, Staff Writer

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  • Isaac RosalesJan 23, 2024 at 10:15 AM

    That’s nice that Rio Americano High School has a wrestling team and a professional wrestling coach.

  • Ethan WoodhouseJan 23, 2024 at 9:41 AM

    The transition quote style was done well in this article.