Athlete Spotlight

Jheryl Makaiu, of Kahuku, Hawaii, is in his second year at NMU. Makaiu is a criminal justice major and is a resident-athlete in the Greco-Roman wrestling program.

Greco-Roman wrestler headshot

What has been your favorite experience since beginning your training at NMU?

My Favorite experience since my arrival at NMU has been, when wrestling was reinstated into the 2020 Olympic Games. This was a big decision that directly affected my teammates and I. The day they made the announcement there were about 10 of us wrestlers piled into my room, we were all watching a live stream video of the voting and results. As soon as they made the announcement to keep wrestling in the 2020 Olympics everyone erupted with cheers of joy, we walked into the hallway where we found the rest of our team also cheering and yelling with the excitement of the news. We didn’t know anyone else was watching in the other rooms so just seeing all of my team in the hallway at the same time everyone with smiles on there faces and yelling in excitement really was an awesome experience for me.

Outside of your sport, what do you like to do on your spare time?

 In my spare time I like to watch a lot of MMA. I have been watching UFC and other MMA events since I was 10 years old, first started training MMA at 13, and had my first fight at 19 so I’ve been around MMA for along time. It’s cool to watch the UFC or Bellator and see guys that I have trained with in the past or just fighters I know from back home. I think its so appealing to me because I did wrestling, judo, and jujitsu as a kid and those are major components in a MMA. So when I see guys with high level grappling skills its just as exciting to me as seeing to great strikers go toe to toe. Also my roommate Barrett and I play a lot of Call of Duty it helps get our minds of the stresses of school and strains of practice.

Who is your greatest inspiration and why?

My greatest inspiration by far has to be my grandfather. To me and my family he is the foundation that keeps us together. My grandpa is Vietnam War Veteran, Judo Black Belt, and is always constantly involved in community activities all while taking care of me and the rest of my family. He has helped so much through my whole life especially in sports. I always strive to make my family proud of me, especially him. I’ll never forget the moment I saw him after winning my second state tittle and just seeing the tears of joy in his eyes and him telling me how proud he was of me. I have been so blessed to be raised with a great family and always being put around great people. I can honestly say I have lots of inspirational people in my life all my current teammates and past teammates, all my coaches throughout my life, and just all the amazing people that I’ve had the opportunity to meet.

What advice would you give a young athlete who wants to train at your level?    

Two piece of advice I would give a young athlete if they want to train at this level are actually quotes, one being from my high school wrestling coach Reggie Torres “Out Work your Competition”. This quote always has helped me through training it makes me want to train hard and make good choices. And the other “Anything worth doing is worth over doing, moderation is for cowards and if your not willing or able to put that much dedication and time into this sport then you will never succeed”.  The first part of that quote is from the movie Lone Survivor and the second part is something my roommate and I came up with as we were talking about ways to success in wrestling.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I really want to take the time and thank everyone that supports me from back home my family, sponsors, and friends. Also all my teammates especially my main training partner Parker Betts who helps push me everyday and makes me a better wrestler and Barrett Stanghill who helps me tons with my wrestling and pushing me, but also being a great best friend who helps me out with whatever I need without question. And last but not least I am very spiritual so I just want to thank God for blessing me with so many great opportunity’s and great people in my life without him non of this would be possible.