Montalvo faced poverty and abuse in path to OSU

Anthony Montalvo

Oklahoma State’s Anthony Montavlo wrestles Minnesota’s Owen Webster during the Oklahoma State vs. Minnesota wrestling dual Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019 in Gallagher Iba Arena in Stillwater.

Growing up wasn’t always easy for Anthony Montalvo.

After being physically and mentally abused, Montalvo found a way to overcome adversity and be the first person in his family to attend college.

Along attending Oklahoma State, he was one of top wrestling recruits in the country.

Montalvo’s childhood was different from others.

He grew up in a two-bed, one-bath apartment with 10 people in California. His parents immigrated from Mexico with nothing but a high school diploma and were forced to live in a poverty-stricken area.

Montalvo’s main goal while growing up was to end the cycle of jail, drugs and crime, which was the norm for males in his family.

The only thing to fall back he had was with wrestling, a sport that he loves.

Montalvo watched his parents split when he was eight years old. At some moments, his oldest brother provided for his mother and siblings. It brought the most trying of times.

Eventually, he watched his brother fall into the cycle of the rest of his family members had as he was arrested and sent to Corcoran Penitentiary for murder.

 “I remember the day he was arrested, it was a Saturday and our family was having a barbeque,” Montalvo said. “It felt like everything was too perfect of a day.”

“The neighborhood was quiet, very unusually calm," Montalvo said. "When S.W.A.T knocked our door down, surrounding the house asking my brother to come out with his hands up.”

It became one of the most surreal moments of Montalvo’s life.

His mother was already badly hooked on drugs and this situation only made it worse as his oldest brother was greatly loved by their mother.

It was hard for Montalvo to find a mother figure while his own was continuously out of his life after he turned eight. Shortly after, the times he would see his mother was down to one to maximum of four times a year.

If that wasn’t enough to deal with as a child, Briana, one of his sisters, got pregnant at 15 years old.

Once Anthony’s father Leo found out, Briana was kicked out of the house and his other sister left as well.

“We didn’t realize that we were leaving him at one of the most important times of his life,” Montalvo’s sister Leslie said.

Montalvo found that wrestling and school could be the only way he can change the route of his life when he was 11.

Montalvo found that wrestling was a sport that you couldn’t win with money, and he had some of its most important characteristics: toughness and heart.

Leo realized the potential in his son and dedicated his life to moving his family out of their home.

Montalvo witnessed true hard work and pressure as Leo worked seven days a week, every week for a couple years.

That was when his life changed.

Montalvo’s family moved to a different town where the opportunity of being successful was significantly greater.

“I saw a change in the way he lived his life,” Leo said. “Everything he did had purpose and made it easier to go to work everyday of the week.”

Montalvo was relatively unknown in the state of California for wrestling when he entered high school.

That all changed a couple months into the season when he defeated some of the best wrestlers in the state and ranked as high as No. 4 as a freshman.

He never looked back from there.

As the years past ranking went from state to national, he even captured a national championship along the way.

His high school career ended with Montalvo ranked No. 3 in the country at his weight and one of the top recruits in the country.

He left his high school and California with one of the most dominant careers.

Through all this success, Montalvo’s mother sadly only watched him wrestle a couple times.

Now at Oklahoma State, the most storied and successful sports program in NCAA history, Montalvo’s expectations stay the same. He want to better his life through education and wresting.

His goals are to maintain a high GPA, as well as being named an All-American in his first year of competition.

sports.ed@ocolly.com