Humans of Orland Park is a project that aims to provide a glimpse into the lives of the people of Orland Park, one story at a time. The content provided in this piece is taken from interviews with our anonymous subjects.

“I was in the third grade when I met my first love. I was a chubby little kid, the youngest of seven siblings who took pleasure in beating me up. Little did they know that their brotherly taunting would launch my career in wrestling…One day my mom had let me tag along with my older brother who had just recently got into wrestling; and ever since that day, watching him on the mat, I had fallen in love with the sport. My only problem was that I was only eight years old, kind of chunky, and had absolutely no skill. However, my love for the sport remained steady. So much so that my numerous losses could not take that away from me. I trained night and day for years before I started to see some success. It was in the eighth grade where all of my hard work had finally paid off. I went undefeated and won the Illinois State Wrestling Championship. I went on to later wrestle all throughout high school, earning all state honors two years in a row, and receiving a full wrestling scholarship to the University of Missouri…What I’ve learned from my experience, is that through hard-work, dedication, and raw passion; you can go from being an unskilled, chubby, and somewhat abused child to one of the best wrestlers across the country…After my wrestling career ended, I found that it took many years to fill the void of losing my first love, but alhamdulillah I have filled it with a passion for something of much more importance, that something is Islam. In the same way that my wrestling career started, my path towards learning more about our deen similarly took passion and dedication in gaining knowledge that will continue to benefit me in this life, and inshaAllah the next. And, while not being able to pass on my wrestling skills to my daughters, I hope to instill in them a love for Allah swt that they can carry on after I’m gone for generations to come, because in the end, that is all that truly matters.”

By Noor Zegar