About WAW

Wrestling demands extraordinary mental toughness, perseverance, the courage to confront daunting challenges and the will to recover from painful defeats.

Wrestlers Are Warriors (WAW)
is a pre- and post-event destination for fans and athletes of amateur wrestling and professional MMA. WAW features photography and analysis from award-winning sports photographer Tony Rotundo and a team of contributing photographers and writers. The WAW website includes professional photography, interviews, articles, and on-site blog reports from wrestling events around the world. The site includes social media links, yearly calendars, and high-resolution files that can be made into posters.

Why “Warriors?”

WAW is not affiliated with the military or a military website, though we do honor and appreciate the services of our armed forces. WAW was named for the commitment, dedication, work ethic, pain tolerance, mental toughness, and desire to excel in a combat sport. The name is an expression of that fortitude: Wrestlers truly are warriors both inside and outside the circle.

As Dr. Thomas M. Reiter wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about wrestling:

With its 14 weight classes, wrestling embraces all athletes — tall or short, scrawny or stocky, fast or not-so-fast. When it comes to physiques, wrestling is the most accepting of sports. But, when it comes to character, wrestling is the most unforgiving.

Wrestling demands extraordinary mental toughness, perseverance, the courage to confront daunting challenges and the will to recover from painful defeats. Our community embodies and transmits to our young people these qualities. It’s our history and culture: hard-working, tough, resilient.

Funds for WAW travel
come out of our own pocket as a labor of love. If you would like to make a donation for travel expenses that would be greatly appreciated!

Who runs WAW?
The editor-in-chief and owner of the site is Tony Rotundo. He takes a good portion of the photographs, writes most of the copy, and manages the site.  WAW has several amazing staff photographers on staff who contribute on an as-need basis.

What makes this site different and why do people love it?
Pride in craft! WAW puts out a consistently great product, with some of the best wrestling photography in the world, insightful stories and articles, plus a continuous effort to find new ways to present and promote wrestling and MMA. This is not a rumor mill or an aggregate site, all of the content is carefully chosen and researched to give the user confidence that coming back frequently will lead to new, awesome, and meaningful material.

How often is the site updated?
During a big wrestling or MMA event you can expect daily (or more frequent) updates, as the season slows down the updates shift to weekly as the photographers shoot other sports (see also athletesarewarriors.com). There is no set schedule to the updates, but usually there’s more chatter leading up to and through an event, then many updates immediately following an event as photos are processed.

What equipment do you use?
All WAW photographers shoot with professional Nikon or Canon gear to guarantee quality photos (see “Why People Love It” above). Tony is a Nikon guy and has several Nikon D3 SLRs, with a variety of lenses, flashes, transceivers, and all the supporting gear to go with them. His travel bags are collectively over 90 lbs, but he can still fly without checking a bag!

Where else can I find WAW?
You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube here:
Facebook: WAW fan page  |  Facebook: Tony C Rotundo
Twitter: Tony Rotundo
YouTube: WAW on YouTube

If you are looking for us in print form, WAW photographers are published in most major wrestling magazines and on-line at USA Wrestling (themat.com).  While there is no set schedule, if you see a great shot in a mag, check to see if it’s one of ours.

2010 NCAA Championships - Kyle Dake, Cornell vs Montell Marion, Iowa

Can I work for your site?
As a photographer, maybe, if you are serious about taking photos, have professional quality gear, have mad post-processing skills, and have a passion for the sports of wrestling and MMA, please get in touch. It helps if you know what FTP stands for, and are bold enough to edit your shots down to a handful of great ones per session. If you have a point and shoot and love to upload 1,000 pictures of ref’s butts to a Flicker account, maybe not so much, but there’s always hope!

What about that post-processing internship?
Glad you asked!  WAW is looking for an intern do some of the post-processing photo work. The end result would be a very firm knowledge of Adobe photo processing products Lightroom and Photoshop.  More details to follow…

What is Athletes Are Warriors?
WAW has a companion photography web site for all other sports called Athletes Are Warriors (AAW) (athletesarewarriors.com).  Please check it out if you’re a fan of all sports photography.

Partial list of clients:
USA Wrestling
USA Wrestler
W.I.N. Magazine
Wrestling USA
Athletes In Action
Michigan University
Pittsburgh University
Purdue University


Suggested donations and what they might pay for:
$25 = Peewee: Weekend parking at the airport
$50 = Midget: Buy gas for a tournament in central California
$100 = JV Squad: Covers ink for prints to hand out
$150 = Varsity Team!: Buy food for a week-long shoot
$200 = Division I recruit: Pay for a hotel room for the weekend
$300 = NCAA Champion: Support for another WAW photographer at the NCAAs
$500 = World Champion!: Round trip airfare to an event in the US
$1,000 = Olympic Champion!: Fund a trip to the world championships!

To send a check, please see Contact Info.


The website Intermat Wrestling recently published an article about Mr. Rotundo, you can read it here: Photographers Sachs, Rotundo chase passion.

2012 Irv Oliner Award –  Tony Rotundo, wrestlersarewarriors.com
The Irv Oliner Award is presented each year at the Californian High School State Wrestling Championships to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to California Wrestling.  The award was presented to WAW photographer and editor Tony Rotundo by Al Fontes on behalf of the California High School Wrestling Coaches Association and TheCaliforniaWrestler.com.  A very poor quality video of the presentation taken by Mr. Rotundo is linked here (he is a still photographer after all and cannot be expected to shoot video very well).  Here is an interview following the event.

2011 National Wrestling Media Association –  Photographer of the Year – Tony Rotundo, wrestlersarewarriors.com

Rotundo, who lives in Oakland, Calif., has been a photographer for five years for the award winning Tech-Fall.com website, which posts quality images from all levels of wrestling. In addition, Rotundo’s pictures have appeared in national publications such as USA Wrestler, W.I.N. Magazine, Wrestling USA and Amateur Wrestling News. His work is also used by numerous Div. I wrestling programs to promote their teams. Rotundo, the son of a successful wrestling coach in upstate New York, started wrestling at the age of five. While at Clarence High School, he took sports photography of his teammates and friends for the yearbook. While attending the Univ. of Buffalo, where he was a wrestler, Rotundo also took photography classes. He moved to the West Coast and was out of both wrestling and photography for awhile. He then served four years as wrestling coach at Berkeley High School in California. It was at a high school event where he met John Sachs of Tech-Fall.com and decided to photograph wrestling once again. He has shot many of the major events including the World Championships, the Olympic Trials, the World Team Trials, the NCAA Championships and the California State High School Championships. Rotundo takes special interest in photographing college wrestling, working events such as the Big Ten and Pac-10 championships. He has a background in graphic arts, which assists in his ability to edit and process his pictures into spectacular images. Rotundo currently works as a producer for MX, which makes DVD and Blu-ray discs. He uses his vacation time to travel to wrestling events and provide quality photography to the entire wrestling community.

See our ad in Amateur Wrestling News starting Feb ’12.

The story behind the WAW principle photo
The photo that was used on all of the initial WAW marketing material is of Steve Luke (University of Michigan, 174 pounds), taken in the finals of the Cliff Keen Invitational, November 11, 2007, in Las Vegas, NV. The match was a “bloodbath” between Luke and Keith Gavin of Pitt. Gavin, that year’s eventual national champion, won the match on points, but not without and epic battle that lasted almost 20 minutes due to both wrestlers having to take multiple injury and blood timeouts. The photo was taken just as a trainer was about to mop blood off Luke’s face, and for one instant the refs, coaches, and trainers cleared the way for a clean shot of a very calm Steve Luke getting attended to. That one photo inspired this site.

Please enjoy the content here, but if you would like to use any photos for promotional purpose, in advertising, or other marketing vehicles you are prohibited from doing so without written permission from Tony Rotundo. All photos © Tony Rotundo and WrestlersAreWarriors.com.

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