Wrestler who hugged opponent's ailing dad honored for gesture


The Blaine High School wrestler whose simple act of kindness after a match last month drew attention from around the nation has now received another accolade.

Instead of walking dejectedly off the mat after losing the state wrestling championship match, Malik Stewart hugged his opponent's father, who is battling cancer.

The widely publicized post-match embrace moved many in the Xcel Energy Center crowd to tears and made the soft-spoken 15-year-old a social media sensation. At a meeting Tuesday, the Anoka County Board of Commissioners honored him for the classy gesture.

"It didn't come out the best on my side, but it did for him," Stewart told KARE 11, recalling the match against Mitchell McKee. "I was pretty happy for him and his father, too, so I thought it would be a good thing to do, to congratulate both of them."

The county recognized his act of sportsmanship with a certificate and a standing ovation. Stewart says he'll put it on his trophy wall.

"Your actions really exemplify for the community what really is important in Minnesota and really in Anoka County," chair Rhonda Sivarajah told Stewart at the meeting, KARE says.

The attention has been overwhelming for Stewart – and he's not sure why his actions have gotten so much attention.

"It's not really that big of a deal. The gesture is just who I am so I don't really want to get famous off it or anything. It's just being me," Stewart told KARE.

Stewart's act of kindness has had an affect on other athletes, who have since made similar gestures, Blaine athletic director Shannon Gerrery told KARE.

Stewart is hoping to win a state championship next year, and he is keeping in touch with the McKees, who invited him to their home this summer, he told KARE.

Mitchell McKee recently won a national title for folkstyle wrestling. His father is doing well and is currently receiving a round of chemotherapy treatment, KARE 11 says.

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