Ameer Williams might have more obstacles to overcome than other members of the Dutch Fork wrestling team, but that hasn’t slowed him.
Silver Foxes coach Kyle Kimrey calls Williams, who has autism, a valuable component for Dutch Fork, which is ranked No. 8 in the latest SCMAT rankings.
“He is probably the most valuable wrestler we got,” said Kimrey, a three-time state champion wrestler at Dutch Fork. “He might not be the best wrestler, but he never complains. He has a great attitude every day. He has never walked in with a bad attitude.
“He has more challenges in wrestling and he is out there grinding. Kids see that. He embraces the grind and never makes excuses.”
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Williams is in his second season at Dutch Fork after wrestling at Irmo his freshman year. Williams’ mother, Tranee Williams-Dinkins, said Ameer likely got involved with wrestling because of his love for the WWE and the likes of Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and Jon Cena.
Ameer also tried track and football, but wrestling stuck because it is was the first sport he tried and the concepts are easier to grasp.
“I like wrestling because it is tough,” Ameer said.
Williams-Dinkins said Ameer showed all the signs of being a healthy baby until the time he was 1 year old. Then he stopped communicating, and she knew something was wrong. According to Williams-Dinkins, doctors initially diagnosed Ameer as mentally retarded and he’s had a variation of other labels growing up in California before the family moved to South Carolina.
In 2004, before Ameer’s father died in a car accident, doctors said he had autism. According to the United States Health and Human Services, one out of every 88 children in the United States has some form of autism, “a developmental disorder of children, characterized by impaired communication and emotional detachment.” People fall in different places on the spectrum of autism and have different autism symptoms, according to the Autism Speaks Foundation.
Williams attends Spring Hill High, a magnet school, where he’s in self-contained classes during the day and goes to Dutch Fork in the afternoon for wrestling.
“For him to adjust, and get accepted into another school and adapt is hard to do because autistic kids are very regimented and they don’t like change,” Williams-Dinkins said.
Williams’ teammates have taken a strong liking to him. During tournaments, Kimrey said his players help him read the bracket and let him know where he needs to be and when he needs to wrestle.
Williams-Dinkins said being a part of a team has helped her son with things outside of sports. Ameer talks about wanting to drive and possibly going to college in the future. His mother is looking at special needs programs at South Carolina and in Charleston.
“I think it made him more determined to go after things,” Williams-Dinkins said. “He doesn’t act like a special needs kid. He knows no limits. Once he gets something in his mind, he is determined to do it.”
Williams is known as “Superguy” by his coaches and teammates, and wrestles in the 152-pound class on the JV and varsity squads. He placed third at a JV tournament at Wade Hampton. At the Silver Fox Invitational last month, he won three matches on the varsity level and earned the sportsmanship award for the event.
Over the weekend, Williams won a pair of matches at the Chapin duals.
“And he got a pin and you would of thought it was like the Olympics and everyone was yelling,” Dutch Fork wrestler Marcus Montgomery said. “The whole gym just lit up.”
Williams also can light up a room with his infectious smile and commands respect with his work ethic. He is one of the strongest guys on the team and does more one-handed and two-finger push-ups than anyone on the squad, Kimrey said.
To stay in better shape, Williams cut out eating junk food and made his mother cut him an apple instead of giving him a cake for his birthday.
“No junk, just fruits and vegetables,” said Williams, who has been known to sneak a rice krispie treat every now and then.
As a wrestler, Kimrey said Ameer has a lot of natural instincts, especially with his hip movement. Williams’ signature move is the “Ameer Tilt” in which he grabs the middle part of the body and flips a guy over for the pin.
Kimrey said Williams has added the half-nelson and Russian into his repertoire.
“He is a workhorse and what he teaches our kids is invaluable,” Kimrey said. “Most of the times, kids are happy about being part of something. He isn’t here to be a part of something. He wants to win. He values winning and losing more than anyone.”