One of the nation's top freestyle wrestlers, a Lancaster resident who helped mentor Philadelphia's growing wrestling scene, was injured in a freak accident Monday night in California.
According to a GoFundMe page created for Rich Perry, the wrestler "impaled" his eye while training at the U.S. Men's World Team Camp in San Diego and suffered "brain trauma."
Perry, 28, wrestled Division I for Bloomsburg University and is based out of the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Currently, the doctors have to wait for the swelling to go down before they can perform surgery. Even after surgery there will be many hurdles to overcome. He will have to remain in California for at least 3-6 months for recovery and rehab," the author of the GoFundMe story wrote.
The GoFundMe story did not detail how Perry was injured but said he was flown by helicopter to an unnamed neurological hospital in California.
"He is in the fight for his life right now," the author wrote.
Perry is the second-ranked wrestler in the country at 86 kg, behind former Pennsylvania State University wrestler David Taylor. Taylor, a two-time national champion for the Nittany Lions, was one of many wrestlers who tweeted support for Perry. The two have wrestled one another several times.
Perry and his wife, Gina, have three children, including a newborn named Zeke.
James Mangan, executive director of Philadelphia's Beat the Streets program, said Perry was a volunteer coach, helping mentor city kids in a sport that's been growing here.
"Rich Perry is the type of guy that is beloved among the community. He's always been positive, and that overwhelming support you're seeing from the wrestling community right now is a product of Rich," Mangan said Thursday morning. "Right now, everyone is just concerned about his health and safety, and being a support system for him and his family."
So far, the GoFundMe account has raised just over $77,000, with a goal of $100,000.
Perry placed in the top 6 at the 2016 Olympic Trials in Iowa, going 3-2. He finished his career at Bloomsburg with a record of 110-30.