Where are they now: Lee Fullhart

I got a chance to catch up with Lee Fullhart recently. He is working on the front lines to protect America. Thank you Lee!

1. We can talk about wrestling in a minute– but right now bring us up to speed on where you are at, what you are doing– what has happened in your life since you left coaching?

I am married with three kids. They are Bill, Edisen, and Jodi. Two boys and a girl. I was working for the U.S. Border Patrol up until this last May when I accepted a position with Homeland Security Investigations. It’s the cooler sounding job you take when you get tired of shaving every day. It is similar to what I was doing before, but with more of a long game. You have to be a little more patient as you work to win the war and not just the daily battles.

2. You participated in some Borstar training– tell us about that– I read a bit about it and it is described as “rigorous”… How does that compare to some of the wrestling training sessions you went through?

Anyone who thinks their specialty training is the best in the world only believes that because they’ve never been in the room with the Brands Brothers. If you’re looking for some hard-nosed boys that just haven’t found their way into a wrestling room they are in the Border patrol. BORSTAR is the unit in the border patrol that does all the dirty jobs your humanitarian groups don’t do because they are too busy protesting the injustice of their privileged lives. We also have BORTAC, which is our tactical unit. If your looking for a fight… bring these guys with you.

I can’t say enough about some of the individuals I worked with in the Border Patrol. They are ruthless in their execution of their job while being extremely professional as a law enforcement officer. I have also been fortunate enough to find some individuals that understand what Iowa wrestling is, and the value of brings if you want to win.

3. Do you have an interesting border patrol story you can share?

This is a hard one. I had a lot of fun in the border patrol. I do have one story I can think of that most accurately portrays what we do as border patrol agents. One day while working South of Ajo, AZ, I came across some foot sign at the border coming from Mexico and continuing north into the desert. In the direction of travel the tracks were heading you would have to walk 60 miles in 110° heat with no source of water, and that would be just to get to a small town to resupply and walk another 100 miles to get to Phoenix. I followed the foot sign a half a mile north and found two young boys and an adult male. The adult male attempted to run when I approached with another agent, but quickly gave up. The boys were 9-10 years of age, and did not know the adult male. The adult male did not know the kids, but knew their father was walking a mile north. He explained to us that the father of one of the boys was walking ahead dragging a stick in the sand leaving a mark for them to follow. We followed the drag mark and to find two males that ran when they saw us. We chased them until we caught up and apprehended them. The father was carrying one small pack with very little water. We see this a lot. Parents voluntarily abandon their kids at the border, leaving them behind for border patrol agents to locate them and provide necessary care. When we locate these groups we have to try to determine what the relationships are to ensure the children aren’t being exploited. Most of your open border groups target areas used by drug smugglers when they drop food and water supplies. I’ve never seen any of these groups drop off supplies for the kids left behind by their parents. We don’t get a lot of press for recovering these kids, or for using our lunches to feed them. This is however a regular reality of the job.

4. What does Lee Fullhart do on a day off– or maybe a better question is what do you do for hobbies or fun?

Outside of work, I’m spending my time with my family. My family has been forever extended to include the wrestling community. I try to make myself as available as I can to help young wrestlers no matter where I am. The wrestling community is something special. You can’t beat the heart of a wrestler.

5. Ok– on to some wrestling talk. You grew up in Decorah, Iowa — wrestled at the University of Iowa under Coach Gable and Coach Zalesky— then wrestled Internationally with Tom/Terry coaching you and next you were able to Coach alongside Terry Brands. Almost sounds like a dream every young wrestler would have. You were successful at every step of the way. What do you think of most when you look back at a sport that spanned many years of your life?

I have been very fortunate to have the experiences I’ve had throughout my life. Working with such focused individuals can sometimes be challenging because you are always looking for a better way to move forward. I’m often misunderstood as a pessimist, or accused of not liking people. The Iowa program had taught me to be very focused on finding a way to win, and then bold on that winning mentality to dominate. I anyways believed that it was the intent of the program that we would take these values with us into everything we do.

6. The Hawkeye Wrestling Club now has a full-time coach and 12 Athletes we are supporting. Many people (me included) think that a strong club makes a big difference in not only the individuals in the club but on the success of the collegiate team… having workout partners, mentors, leaders. You have been on every side of this– a collegiate athlete, a club member and as a coach– what are your thoughts?

Here is a Bible verse that Tom Brands once sent me.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise:

Proverb 13:20.

The more like-minded people the better for the group as a whole, but success can be found anywhere there is enough desire.

7. Terry Brands has a pretty funny story about you– so I thought I would give you a chance to reciprocate– what you got for us?

I don’t know that I could pick just one story. It is the small things that I remember about my time with Terry. I remember in Chattanooga how Terry would stand in front of his locker every day staring at it because he didn’t have a towel. I brought him a towel every day and would have to ask him if he wanted a towel. After day 60 wouldn’t a normal person just grab the towel or bring their own? I brought it for him 59 days prior that.

In case it comes up drunken apples are the same thing as spiced apples. Not every restaurant uses the same name for the same foods, and you can’t always use the names interchangeably. Usually, you use the name listed in the menu. It makes things so much easier.

**** Might have to find out more on the apples story later– but when I asked Terry about a Lee Fullhart story that made him smile he told me this:

Coach Brands (Terry)  and Lee were in Ulan-Ude, East Siberia Russia in 2008 for a competition that Lee was wrestling in. Terry got in a conversation with the Russian coach and the coach was telling him how the Russian wrestling system is far superior to American wrestling system. He used the example that he could literally drop a rock out of a window, whichever wrestler of his it hits will beat an American wrestler. 
Lee beat a Russian in that tourney and Terry tells the Russian coach that the rock must have hit the wrong wrestler! 😀

8. How closely do you follow the Hawkeyes and HWC Wrestling?

My world is pretty small. I don’t follow the wrestling community as a whole. All I care to know is that Hawkeyes are winning. I stay pretty focused on where I’m at because that is where I can have the biggest impact. My loyalties don’t waiver. I’m always looking for the future Hawkeye that I can help in some way.


 

Thanks,

Randy Novak

 

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