GJ’s Coca writes about wrestling experiences

In his new book, GJ’s Ray Coca chronicles how wrestling, including for the U.S. Amateur team in 1962, was his way to earn respect from his peers.



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In his new book, GJ’s Ray Coca chronicles how wrestling, including for the U.S. Amateur team in 1962, was his way to earn respect from his peers.

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About the author

Ray Coca was a three-time state wrestling champion at Grand Junction High School, where he graduated in 1962 after compiling a 59-1-1 record.

At Western State College he was the NAIA national runner-up at 115 pounds in 1964. He was named the outstanding sophomore wrestler in the nation and earned Division I All-America honors. He is a member of the Western State Hall of Fame and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.



Ray Coca never imagined the opportunities he’d have through wrestling.

The Grand Junction native, who remains involved in the sport, recently wrote a book about his unique wrestling experiences. The book was published last week by Brass Frog Bookworks, based in Grand Junction.

“Elite U.S. Dream Team ... A Wrestling Story” is available for purchase at Walgreens, 240 W. Park Drive, on the corner of First Street and Patterson Road. Coca will have a book signing from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 9 at the same location. He will have a display of gifts he received from Japanese wrestlers.

“It’s an unconventional book by an unconventional author,” Coca said. “I didn’t care how it came together, but I knew the core was there.

“I want to get across that kids need sports with school. It’s a teaching tool and a training tool.”

Coca chronicles his childhood leading up to being selected and representing the U.S. amateur team, a collection of high school seniors, in a yearlong tour wrestling select Japanese teams in 1962.

The U.S. team had a reunion two years ago, and members discussed writing a book about their experience. Knowing Coca was a sports writer for The Daily Sentinel from 1968 to 1972, the team suggested he do it.

Coca portrays a telling story of his childhood and how wrestling was his ticket to respect among his peers and gave him an opportunity to travel for the first time.

He shares memories of his matches against Japanese all-stars, traveling through Japan and the reception they received in Colorado and Japan.

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