Clinton junior travels to India on international wrestling tour


Clinton wrestler Faith Blackburn visited the Monkey Palace in Jaipur, India, otherwise known as ‘The Pink City.’ Photo submitted

Clinton High School junior Faith Blackburn has been wrestling since she was seven years old. Undaunted by challenges, she never gave up. Now at 16, that perseverance has led to her being named a two-time county champion, three-time state qualifier, two-time state runner-up, and she is the first female wrestler in Lenawee County to have won a regional title. Faith is currently taking part in the 2023 International Wrestling Tour in India, where she is learning and training with wrestlers from all over the globe.

Faith lives in Clinton with her parents Jeffery and Jennifer Blackburn and her four younger siblings, Gage, Trinity, Ax and Harmony. Jennifer said that after her daughter spent her first two years as a wrestler without winning a single match, once she started winning, she was motivated to train more diligently. On a GoFundMe page that was set up to raise money to help with expenses for the trip to India, Jennifer said Faith first traveled out of state when she was 11 to wrestle nationally, and in eighth grade she began to get attention with a season record of 19-2. Passionate about her sport, Faith continued to train all summer and wrestle year-round. She has now traveled to more than a dozen states to wrestle.

The opportunity to attend the wrestling tour in India with an all-girl wrestler group was brought to the family’s attention through Faith’s training center, Michigan Revolution Training Center in Highland, Mich. Jennifer, who traveled to India with Faith, said girls wrestling is on the rise internationally and is the fastest growing sport in India.

“There are a lot of World Team members and World Team Champs in India. It’s a great opportunity to come train here with some of the world’s best,” Jennifer said. Faith began raising funds for the trip late last summer, through bottle returns, crafting and raffling off wreaths, receiving monetary donations, working, babysitting, side jobs, and the final push from the GoFundMe campaign, which had a goal of $1,500 but raised $1,845. The $2,500 cost of the trip included the plane fare and accommodations, but she had to come up with additional funds for a passport and visa, spending money, and transportation to and from the airport.

“There were fifty people who traveled here, I think thirty wrestlers mostly from Michigan, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, California, and Minnesota,” Jennifer said. “So far we have trained one day with many World team members,” said Faith. “They may not look very big, but they are very, very strong.”

Nationally, Faith only wrestles other girls, according to her mother, and this year in high school girl wrestlers are only matched with girls. However, in previous years, unless it was a girls tournament, her wrestling matches were almost exclusively against boys.

With India nine and a half hours ahead of Michigan, Faith and Jennifer had to adjust to losing almost half a day “So far, I have got to see how they live here. It makes you really appreciate living in the USA,” Faith said late Monday. “We got to visit the Taj Mahal and learn the history on it and walk through and see how beautiful it was. We got to do some shopping on the streets and learned how to bargain with people.”

Faith said the trip to India is the furthest she has ever traveled. “Our dollar goes very far here. The first thing I noticed was the air, it was very polluted, trash everywhere and the dogs, there are stray dogs running around everywhere,” she said. “There are monkeys that just run free everywhere, cows walking the streets like strays. All the food is very spicy. All the Indian people are very, very fascinated with American people, they are so friendly and everyone wants a picture with you like you are famous.”

She is glad she has her mother there with her on the trip. “It’s so amazing being able to experience this amazing opportunity together,” she said.


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