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Out Athlete Akil Patterson Training To Become An Olympic Wrestler

Former Maryland football player Akil Patterson who is now training to become an Olympic wrestler talks to Jeff Baker about coming out and the struggle of gay athletes. He also reflects on his career in sports as a football player and Wrestler.

The Baltimore Sun has the story:

Patterson, who said he was a binge drinker during his Maryland football years, is one of a half-dozen or so football players to have publicly declared after college or NFL careers that they are gay.

Patterson’s decision to come out by name ? first in January to Outsports.com, which covers gays and lesbians in sports ? required careful consideration because he competes in national wrestling competitions and works with wrestlers on Maryland’s Atlantic Coast Conference champion team. He aspires to make the Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling and said he hopes his disclosure won’t cost him sponsors that help pay travel and other costs for matches and training.

In a 70-minute interview, Patterson, 28, sounded like a man emerging from a dream he can’t entirely recall. He said memory lapses about some nights are caused by drinking during his football years and the fact that his old behavior is unrecognizable to him today. “I was a wild mess,” he said.

He said he hit on a male cheerleader while at Maryland but denied to teammates that he was gay even as rumors spread about his sexual orientation and erratic behavior. He recalls that his heavy drinking included the night before a big game at Florida State in September 2003.

Read the full story via THE BALTIMORE SUN