Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rizea Is Writing His Own Script

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rizea Is Writing His Own Script

Article excerpt

CLIFTON - As soon as Clifton wrestling coach Dan Geleta saw the ears, he knew he had a wrestler.

He didn't know he also had a poet.

Clifton's Tiberiu Rizea fits both descriptions, plus much more. The Romanian-born senior grew up competing half a world away. He still hasn't quite mastered all of the intricacies of the folkstyle (or scholastic) wrestling practiced here, but his cauliflowered ears are a giveaway that the 170-pounder is not afraid to work on the mat.

Meanwhile, his poetry demonstrates that Rizea is also compassionate and artistic.

"I think I was 10 when I started to do poetry," said Rizea, 18, who was published in the Clifton High literary magazine last year. "I wrote a poem for my mother. It was a cute poem for a kid. Then I said, 'I like this.' ...

"Poetry, for me, is everything. When I am thinking about poetry, I can do anything."

Rizea - "Tibi" to his friends and coaches - has a wealth of personal material to draw from. He grew up in Calarasi, Romania. When he was 2, his father, Stelian, left the family and came to America to build a better life.

"Romania doesn't have a good economy," Rizea said. "He came here to make a future for my mother and my family."

Two years ago, Tibi was able to obtain his own visa and joined his father. The big news is that Rizea's mother and sister are scheduled to arrive next month, making the family complete for the first time in a long time.

"For 10 years I didn't see my father, from when I was 2 to 12, so I can say wrestling gives me the personality of a man," Rizea said. "I needed to take the character of a man from somewhere, so I took it from wrestling."

Stelian was an accomplished wrestler in Romania, winning a couple of national titles, according to Geleta. He's also competed in mixed martial arts in America. A quick Google search reveals his MMA record is 4-1.

So when Tibi showed up midway through last season, it didn't take long for him to find the Mustangs' wrestling room.

"First time I wasn't scared. …

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