Ray Lewis was a state champion prep wrestler, but one foe was even better

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally
Ray Lewis as a senior at Kathleen High School — Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library
Ray Lewis as a senior at Kathleen High School — Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library

Ray Lewis enters the Super Bowl as one of the most celebrated defensive players in NFL history. He is a one-of-a-kind blend of explosive power and unrestrained emotion, dominant enough to occasionally carry a franchise on his back or, more often, make a one-off big play when the Ravens need it most.

Before he landed with the Ravens franchise, Lewis was a star collegiate linebacker at the University of Miami. Before that, he was a prep sports superstar, an all-everything football player and a dominant wrestler. Yet on one occasion Lewis was decidedly second best, and the man who beat him might just be his match athletically, too.

You can see Lewis as a high school senior from the Kathleen High yearbook above courtesy of our friends at Snakkle. You can see the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh in high school at Snakkle as well, with USAToday also featuring a full album of Super Bowl stars as high school phenoms, too.

As noted by MaxPreps, Lewis won the Florida Class 4A wrestling title during his senior season in 1993. Yet the previous season, Lewis was outdone in the state final by a wrestler named Sam Ancona, a Miami (Fla.) Columbus High superstar who topped Lewis 8-5 in the season’s final bout for both grapplers.

You can see the famous bout between Ancona and Lewis in the video above, with Ancona landing a takedown of Lewis in the final seconds of the bout to notch an 8-5 win, and a state title with it.

As it turns out, that was hardly the only time that Ancona pulled of a remarkable athletic feat. After graduating from Columbus, Ancona went on to wrestle at the University of Virginia. After earning his degree he even tried his hand at amateur boxing.

Lewis earn his aforementioned state title the following season with an 11-8 victory in the Class 4A final. He then starred at Miami and took the NFL by storm.

Yet, for one day, Lewis was second best, all at the hands of a wrestler who never could have known just how dominant his final prep opponent would become.

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