Good Sports: History behind the Zinkin name in Valley wrestling

Alec Nolan Image
Saturday, March 4, 2023
Good Sports: History behind the Zinkin name in Valley wrestling
The last name Zinkin goes hand in hand with wrestling in the Central Valley -- three generations of homegrown talent, all striving to be the best in the state.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Most families don't have a wrestling mat in their house, but the Zinkins do.

"I'd say I'm more aggressive," says Rocklin Zinkin.

At just 14 years old, Rocklin is already making a statement in the sport.

He's competing as a freshman for Buchanan High, a wrestling dynasty -- now reigning as 7x defending state champs and one of the top programs in the nation.

But for Rocklin, it's more than just wrestling -- it's family tradition.

"He helps me scout my opponents and helps me on the mat," he said. "He knows everything."

His father, Nick, was a 4x state wrestling medalist with Clovis High in his own right.

"A long history of doing it," Nick said.

Nick's father, Dewayne, would open the door as a wrestler at Fresno High, with his three sons following close behind.

"Genetically speaking, unfortunately, we're vertically challenged, so we probably didn't have too many options," Nick said. "Practices in beds, in between dressers. A lot of broken furniture."

All three boys would wrestle for their uncle, former Clovis High and Fresno State head coach Dennis Deliddo.

"There's a lot of things that he does that are almost exactly like I did," Nick said.

As a 4x Doc B Champion in high school, his son is already chasing his record - grabbing his first cowboy hat this season.

"I often say that I'm a pretty even-keeled guy," Nick said. "Watching him wrestle has sucked me out of position more than anything in my life."

The Zinkins like to make history - Rocklin's great grandfather Harold, a trailblazer - one of the founding members of muscle beach in Venice, the inventor of the universal lifting machine and a dear friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At the state tournament this past weekend, Rocklin was determined to write a chapter of his own.

A matchup in the semifinal started to give the family flashbacks.

"There was this buzz going around the tournament this weekend -- are the Zinkins cursed in the semifinals?"

Nick and his brothers had all medalled at the state championships, but all three lost in the semis.

Rocklin would rewrite that script for the family.

"I was having a hard time actually yelling constructive things in his semifinal because I was fighting tears," Nick said. "I think the Zinkin curse in the semifinal has been broken."

Rocklin would earn a comeback victory in the semis, but the freshman would lose to a senior in the final.

"I'm really looking to win a state title now since I lost in the finals this season," he said. "Come back stronger."

On the horizon - greater ambitions.

"Be an All-American or a national champion one day," Rocklin said.

It's a desire dad can only smile at.

"To do what he did as a freshman this year, I'm so proud of him," Nick said.

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