Brute Nationals 2015 – Two Days of Talent Tested

Brute Nationals 2015 Editorial Piece — Continually growing, expanding and improving, the 2015 version of BRUTE Folkstyle Nationals, April 3 & 4 in Kansas City, once again showcased some of our sport’s best young talent.  More than 1,500 wrestlers, a record number, arrived from around the country to put their skills to the test at the host site, The Independence Events Center, which continues to be the perfect fit for this renowned event.  Reducing the tournament to two days instead of three proved to be a big hit, as champions were crowned at each grade level in numerous weight classes. Go to to see all final results.

High school wrestlers took to the mat early Friday morning and wrapped up the same night, and they were followed by college wrestling icon, Kyle Dake from Cornell University.  Dake, a recent addition to the BRUTE family, instructed and performed a work-out clinic for a number of wrestlers who stuck around and for some youngsters weighing in for Saturday’s elementary grades tournament.  Spending an hour showing basic techniques and drills that helped him to four NCAA national titles, Kyle’s methods proved extremely beneficial and accepted by his young fans who were given time to test out those drills and positions.  Signing autographs, posing with fans for pictures, and visiting with anyone and everyone who approached him, Dake was a true ambassador with his time and for his sport.  When asked why he chose BRUTE to partner with, “I had met John (John Purnell, President and CEO of the Henson Company, parent company of BRUTE Wrestling) a few times before and he’s been friends with my coach, Rob Koll. John’s a good guy and I’m glad to be a part of this company.  I want to help grow wrestling, and I think BRUTE is doing a good job of that.  They’re bringing the right group of athletes and people in to represent the brand.  I like to think we’re the all American, down to earth, type of people who represent the values of what this country is made out of.  Having good morals and solid values is something that really drew me to John and BRUTE.”

John Purnell feels strongly about the path he has chosen and is excited to involve the others who have chosen it with him.  “I only want people to be associated with my company who I would want my son to be associated with, so they have to be people with strong character and have their priorities correct.  We attract a certain type of athlete and it permeates within our organization and the people here, such as our executive director and our board members.  We all have the same mentality and that is to give back to our sport.  It’s all about the kids, first and foremost.

The tournament staff, led by R.E.A.C.H.E.S. executive director, Walt Fisk, is always searching for new additions and changes to improve the event for all involved.  This year, Flo Wrestling streamed every match live online for fans at home to enjoy. WorldWide Sport Supply provided a large assortment of wrestling wear, gear, and supplies for sale to the thousands of wrestlers and fans.  The ever popular Mohawk haircut contest was once again a favorite part of the weekend.  Pictures were posted to the BRUTE Nationals Facebook page where fans voted for their favorite.  Go to Facebook and see the winners and you will also find other pictures and videos from this year’s event.

Once again, BRUTE Nationals is a one-of-a-kind event.  One hundred percent of the profits go to the organization Rewarding Educational Athletic Choices Helping Each Sport (R.E.A.C.H.E.S.), which is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance and gifts to ensure amateur sports continue to grow and help young athletes. Dake also commented, “They’re giving back so much to the wrestling community and it’s huge to have some programs like this.  There are a lot of people who will just run these tournaments and make a lot of money and put it in their pockets and not give back to the community, but R.E.A.C.H.E.S. does a great job of showing support for all wrestlers at different levels across the nation.” Go to to learn more and see how you can volunteer and/or donate to this trend setting organization.

Many “national” tournaments are held throughout the country each year.  This one is a step or two above so many others because of the mission and attitude of the staff and volunteers.  Unsung heroes and people who love wrestling are countless and necessary to pull off an event of this magnitude.  They do it with grace, common sense, integrity and a burning desire to see people enjoy themselves.  My hat is off once again to John Purnell, The Henson Group, BRUTE, R.E.A.C.H.E.S., and all that is right about America.

R.E.A.C.H.E.S. (Rewarding Educational Athletic Choices Helping Each Sport) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2007 in an effort to promote, protect and preserve the integrity of amateur athletics by providing athletic and educational opportunities to all athletes of all ages and abilities. This unique experience will provide educational, technical, and lifelong lessons for athletes, coaches, parents and fans that seek to capture meaningful, compassionate, harmonious, interesting and active lives. All profits from R.E.A.C.H.E.S. will be used to support specific needs in each sport to ensure future generations of athletes, fans, parents and coaches will continue to learn from valuable lifelong athletic lessons.

Brute Wrestling was founded in 1967, in Virginia, by retired U.S. Navy Captain Josiah Henson. Captain Henson was an Olympic bronze medalist in Freestyle wrestling in 1952 and the first American wrestler to beat a Russian at the Olympics. The company began as the first wrestling mail order business. John Purnell joined the company in 1975 and in 1977 became the President and majority owner. Shortly thereafter, Purnell moved the company to Reading, Pennsylvania to begin manufacturing wrestling uniforms under the brand name Brute Wrestling. At that time, the company began distributing through a network of sporting goods dealers. In 1989, a line of soccer uniforms was added under the name Liga Soccer. In 2003, the company product line was expanded to include custom uniforms for volleyball, softball and basketball under the brand name NeuEdge Sportswear. NeuEdge Sportswear quickly became one of the leading producers of custom sublimated team uniforms in the country. In 2010, Henson Group launched a lacrosse and field hockey line under the brand Evolve Team Sportswear. Today Henson Group Sports provides a complete line of top quality wrestling, lacrosse, softball, basketball and volleyball products and apparel to sporting goods dealers; amateur and professional athletic clubs and teams; and other buyers all over North America.