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Athlete Wrestles With Idea of Success and Rediscovers Passion

Caleb Wood - 700 Club Producer

Dean Barnard doesn’t let age slow him down. Not only does the 68-year-old run a successful insurance company, he competes in wrestling competitions around the world.

“Here I am 68, winning world championships, best fit in 40 years,” said Dean jovially, “life couldn’t be any better.”

Dean’s work ethic and drive for success began in the small, farm town of Eldora Iowa. An ‘All American’ boy – he went to church, was an eagle scout and a star football player. But where he really shined was as a state champion wrestler.

“Because when you're out there wrestling it's just you and the opponent. You can't blame your team members; you can't blame your coach,” Dean informed. “It created in me individual strength and my personality that I could overcome almost anything.”

But when he got to college, partying became his main interest, and by his Sophomore year Dean had left wrestling, and his faith behind. 

After graduating with a degree in economics, he went on to marry, have two sons and become a successful farm equipment salesman at a major corporation.

“It felt great,” Dean admitted, “I rose to the top of one of the largest tractor companies in the world. Money, material things, 8,000 square foot house. Houseboat. Jet skis. Success was ‘Dean-driven’ by monetary, physical, material things. I wanted to be wealthy and to have all the material things that I thought was happiness.”

Dean would spend the next two decades doing what he needed stay on top – failure was not an option.

“I made it to number one every year, I didn't listen to anybody else,” said Dean. “You tell me I can't do it, and I'll do it.”

But failure would come. In 2002 after years at the company, Dean was let go by new management. But Dean’s career wasn’t the only thing that took a hit.

“That was at the same time our marriage was going down, down, down, down,” Dean explained.”

Trying to bounce back, Dean started an insurance business. But between the startup money and lawyer bills from a contentious divorce, Dean landed in a mountain of debt.

“I was out of money, I was broke, I was paying attorneys that I didn't have, I charged my credit cards to $150,000 worth,” Dean recounted. “I really didn't know who I was not being successful, cause I've never not been successful. I just saw no getting out, period. It was to the point where I didn't want to live anymore and I just had a plan in my mind I was going to shut the garage and turn on the gas and just say goodbye to the world because I couldn’t take it.

Then, at the urging of his sons, Dean started going to a different church where he got counseling and support. One night, he realized just how far he had wandered from his boyhood faith.

“Dean was the center of my life and money.” Dean continued, “one night after a bad situation with my ex, I looked up at God and said, ‘I'm lost. I have nowhere else to go. I want to start developing a personal relationship that's meaningful that, that I know that ‘I'm going to get through this.’ That's what made the difference. From then on it was a growing relationship.”

As Dean began to focus on Christ instead of himself, Dean says God orchestrated a series of events that got him out of debt, and his company on its feet. And it also revived his old passion.

“God has given me talents that I just threw in the trash, I mean, I'm made to wrestle, I'm built to wrestle,” Dean said, “And it was a blessing because, again, God provided the resources!”

So Dean hit the gym, got in shape, and in 2016, joined the ‘Master’s Wrestling’ league. And his return to the mat was in full force!

“I fulfilled my dream,” Dean said plainly, “and it's God's dream, not just mine this time.”

Today, he’s still wrestling and working hard in his career and aspirations, but he’s the first to tell you, it’s not about Dean.

“The old Dean is gone. The new Dean is with Christ, centered. He gets credit for everything.” Dean says, “I want to get my message out that you're never too old. God's behind everything we do, and with a strong faith anything's possible.”

Shout out and ‘thank you’ to Morris Fitness for their support and location. Check them out here!

Link: https://morrisfitnesswrestling.com/

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