Prep Wrestling Coach’s “Cuffing” Demo Questioned

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New details have emerged surrounding the alleged assault of a teen wrestler by his coach.

A North Medford (Ore.) High School wrestler told police that his coach, Phillip Lopez, attacked him after the teen lost a match at a tournament in Clovis, Calif. The coach resigned in February, just two weeks after the incident, according to the Mail Tribune, which obtained a police report related to the case.

While neither the teen, his family nor the school filed a police report in Clovis, the father of the 15-year-old did later file a report with the Medford Police Department, alleging the teen was struck “multiple times” in the head and neck after losing a match on Jan. 6.

The report goes on to state that Lopez took the teen and another wrestler to a secluded area outside the gym to demonstrate “cuffing,” a legal wrestling move that is allowed at the beginning of a match. “It is supposed to pull the other wrestler’s head down so you can gain an advantage. If you were to keep cuffing someone, you would be penalized,” the report states.

The teen told police that Lopez hit him “in the back of his head and neck area and kept hitting him, saying this is how you ‘cuff’ someone,” according to the police report.

After he’d been hit a number of times, the teen said Lopez “called him a ‘p*ssy’ and told him to leave.”

Lopez admitted to police that he’d gotten “overly excited” and sore at the teens, but he also said that he loved the kids and the incident ended with a hug. Lopez said he was simply trying to demonstrate the cuffing move and that he told the teen, “You weigh 106 pounds, if you can get out of my hold then no one in your weight class should be able to beat you.”

Another wrestler who witnessed the interaction told police he saw Lopez cuff the boy four to six times but didn’t think it was anything “out of the ordinary.”

Lopez resigned on Feb. 7. The police report was filed Jan. 24.

Medford School District spokesperson Natalie Hurd said that no other complaints have ever been filed against Lopez.

“The Medford School District values the safety of its students and staff,” Hurd said in a statement to the media. “We did receive a complaint regarding Mr. Lopez, but he resigned from his position before we were able to launch an investigation. Lopez is no longer an employee with the Medford School District, and our director of human resources is not aware of any prior complaints against him with the district.”

When news broke that Lopez had resigned, he told reporters at the time that it was for personal reasons.

“I’ve pretty much accomplished everything on my bucket list coaching besides a team title, and you have to have a lot go your way for that,” Lopez said at the time. “I just felt like it was time.”

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