For a kid who almost always stands out, wrestling has provided an avenue for Primo Pinson to fit in.
The fifth-grader at McCulloch Intermediate School won an open heavyweight title for the Scots Wrestling Club at the Texas State Championships in March, proving that he could beat people his own age.
Primo often has to grapple with coaches three times his age in practice. That’s because, at more than 160 pounds, Primo would manhandle most of his teammates.
“He’s a natural athlete, and he’s tenacious on the mat,” said Brad Davey, one of a handful of coaches at the club smaller than Primo. “It’s developed his confidence. He has seized the benefits and really grown to like it.”
When he was 4, Primo was adopted from Africa by Chad and Crystal Pinson of University Park. He was staying at a child soldier rehabilitation center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the Pinsons had done missionary work. Primo was malnourished and had no access to electricity or running water.
“They had never seen a kid whose native language was Swahili, but they didn’t bat an eye. Primo has blessed people, and people have blessed Primo.” -Chad Pinson
“Once he was able to get past that weight he needed to be healthy, he really began to grow,” Chad said. “Primo is a survivor. He’s a tough kid.”
Adapting to life in the Park Cities was challenging at first. When he began kindergarten at Armstrong Elementary School, he barely knew any English. Then there was his sheer size, which clashed with his gentle and often bashful nature.
“Primo sticks out a lot here, in a good way,” Chad said. “They had never seen a kid whose native language was Swahili, but they didn’t bat an eye. Primo has blessed people, and people have blessed Primo.”
He developed an affinity for sports, particularly football and baseball. But when he began wrestling alongside his older brother, Asher, he blossomed both competitively and socially.
“We thought it would be good for them in terms of physical education. Both of them have stuck with it,” Chad said. “The coaches have really invested in him. It really started clicking.”
That led him to the youth state tournament in Round Rock, where Primo became the local club’s first champion in more than a decade.
“I wanted to win state so bad,” Primo said. “I set a goal for myself, and my coaches helped me with that. I was kind of nervous, but the last couple of matches, I thought I could win.”
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