Wrestler has message of strength for Chardon graduates

12:51 PM, Jun 2, 2012   |    comments
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CHARDON -- Lee Kemp was chosen as commencement speaker for the 2012 Chardon graduation long before the shootings this past winter. Now he hopes to inspire students with his message of overcoming obstacles.

Before he was a world champion wrestler, Kemp was a Chardon High School student athlete. He spent a lifetime overcoming his own personal and professional obstacles which is precisely why he is speaking at Chardon's 2012 graduation ceremony this weekend.

"Who knows maybe I could say something to someone that would help them find their life passion and i'm really excited about that opportunity," said Kemp.

Thirty-two years ago, at the peak of his wrestling career, a boycott of the Olympics crushed his dream of competing.

Kemp was a three time world champion wrestler, two time gold medalist in the Pan American games, and a seven time national champion.

Still for two decades he struggled with his place in the world.

"You have to develop a mindset you are going to view life from a standpoint that you are going to keep going on."

It's a philosophy that 28 years after his Olympic disappointment, he was tapped to coach U.S. freestyle wrestlers at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

As a graduate, Kemp felt the pain of the entire Chardon community on February 27, the day of the shootings.

In his graduation ceremony remarks, Kemp says he hopes to challenge the graduating seniors to overcome the tragedy by finding a passion in their lives.

"Passion is more than a goal. You can't get to a goal unless you have passion to get through the rough spots through the obstacles through the tragedies that occur."


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