KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Every Airman in the Air Force has a hobby. Some people are more animated than others when it comes to their pastimes, and in this case, an 8th Fighter Wing Airman definitely has most people beat.
“I’ve always wanted to wrestle since I was a kid,” said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Gauntt, 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of fuels knowledge operations. “I was 17 when I told my parents that I wanted to go to professional wrestling school. They told me I wasn’t going to live with them if I decided to pursue that, so I joined the Air Force instead.”
For Gauntt, the journey started in San Antonio, Texas, where he started amateur wrestling while stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. Once he got his first taste of real wrestling, he knew he wanted more.
“It wasn’t until 11 years later that I found my opportunity to get into wrestling,” said Gauntt. “I was in Texas working as a military training instructor when I started training with a wrestling center in San Antonio, and I’ve been doing it since then wherever I’ve been stationed.”
Now, Gauntt’s day job consists of being in charge of official correspondence and an array of programs for his flight at Kunsan. He manages several award programs for fuel Airmen recognizing them for their performance such as “Fueler of the Month” and “Runner of the Month.” But some nights, his role changes completely. Gauntt takes on a persona called “Ryan Oshun,” a professional wrestler and one of two heavyweight champions on the Korean Peninsula.
“Believe it or not, it wasn’t difficult to get into wrestling in Korea,” Gauntt said. “Overseas, especially in Asia, it’s hard for them to find American wrestlers, particularly bigger ones. I had worked with the promoter here beforehand so it was as simple as messaging him, slowly coming to shows, and building myself up here. Before I knew it, I was heavyweight champion of Korea.”
After seven years, Gauntt’s love for wrestling has only grown, despite overcoming some challenges early on. He found comfort in the brotherhood the wrestling community has to offer, similar to one often found in the military.
“When I first started wrestling, it hurt and I almost quit a few times because you get put down a lot when you mess up,” Gauntt said. “One of the things my trainer told me is, ‘There’s a very military-esque vibe to wrestling.’ We in the military deploy and the people you deploy with are your brothers. With wrestling you’re with roughly 60 percent of the same guys all the time and you form a brotherhood with them.”
Gauntt’s military obligations never held back his passion and commitment for wrestling, and his leadership often supports and encourages him to stay invested. Wrestling gives him an outlet to express his personality in ways he normally wouldn’t be able to.
“Having the ability to be who I want and basically amplify my personality in the ring is my favorite part,” said Gauntt. “I get to do and say things I would never be able to outside of wrestling... because it’s part of the show. I think that’s the coolest part about what I do.”
Gauntt is currently defending his championship while stationed at Kunsan, and will appear in more matches throughout his tour. In Korea, though his official persona is “Ryan Oshun,” he is nicknamed “The Jersey Devil” as a reference to his home state. Gauntt wants to continue wrestling for as long as he can, while continuing to serve in his daytime capacity—as an Air Force Airman.