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updated: 3/11/2012 9:50 AM

Moving Picture: Fighting champ coaching in Lake County

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  • Matt Fiordirosa watches his wrestler Regis Durbin during the North Suburban Conference wrestling championships in Libertyville.

       Matt Fiordirosa watches his wrestler Regis Durbin during the North Suburban Conference wrestling championships in Libertyville.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Matt Fiordirosa jokes around with classmates at Trinity International University in Deerfield. He graduates in May.

       Matt Fiordirosa jokes around with classmates at Trinity International University in Deerfield. He graduates in May.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Matt Fiordirosa talks with wrestler Chance Shea after he was injured during the North Suburban Conference wrestling championships in Libertyville.

       Matt Fiordirosa talks with wrestler Chance Shea after he was injured during the North Suburban Conference wrestling championships in Libertyville.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • A poster featuring Jimmy Kennedy and other wresters from the University of Illinois hangs on the walls of Fiordirosa's bedroom. Fiordirosa wrestled with Kennedy at Grant High School and still keeps in touch with him.

       A poster featuring Jimmy Kennedy and other wresters from the University of Illinois hangs on the walls of Fiordirosa's bedroom. Fiordirosa wrestled with Kennedy at Grant High School and still keeps in touch with him.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Fiordirosa keeps a wrestling "bible", which contains teachings from one of his mentors Israel Martinez, who is the owner of Izzy Style Wrestling and head coach at Montini High School.

       Fiordirosa keeps a wrestling "bible", which contains teachings from one of his mentors Israel Martinez, who is the owner of Izzy Style Wrestling and head coach at Montini High School.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Moving Picture: The Fighter

 
 

Matt "Sunshine" Fiordirosa has always been a winner.

He was a four-time state wrestling qualifier for the Grant High School Bulldogs, in Fox Lake, racking up an amazing 154-13 record. His career in the octagon as a mixed martial arts fighter was 13-1. Now, he's taking that bulldog-like mentality to the coaching realm.

At 26 years old, he is the head varsity wrestling coach at Lake Forest High School and may be the youngest head wrestling coach in the area.

Fiordirosa was an assistant coach for two years.

"I applied for the head coaching job, basically, it was that I have the credentials to be a head coach," he said. "But I still looked too young to be a head coach."

Coaching at Lake Forest has been an experience in rebuilding for him.

"When I got to Lake Forest it was like starting from scratch, trying to get rid of some of the bad habits that kids had developed. My philosophy with anything is you have to work for it, no matter what," he said. "I know how to go hard, I know how to do the fundamental things and to stay on the grind."

Fiordirosa is finishing up his teaching degree at Trinity International University in Deerfield. He is student teaching at Big Hollow Middle School in Ingleside and wants to be a P.E. teacher. The kids at Big Hollow have seen videos of his fighting career and ask to call him "Mr. Sunshine."


"I promised myself that before I ever committed myself fully back to fighting again, I'd finish my degree. The main thing I wanted to do was teach. Some of the most influential people in my life have been teachers," he said.

Fiordirosa graduates in May, and hopes to take his degree and his coaching experience and do what he's done his whole life -- go to school and coach.

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