FloWrestling documentary on Roman Bravo-Young draws emotions of reflection & pride

Sunnyside graduate student Roman Bravo-Young is the main subject of a documentary released Tuesday by FloWrestling

Roman Bravo Young is from South Tucson and grew up in a broken home. He grew up in different households. He was exposed to crime and drugs in his neighborhood at a young age.

Before he attended high school, he thought his future was playing video games. School was secondary.

Wrestling in college sounded unrealistic to him.

“I didn’t even know what Penn State was,” he said in an hour-long documentary about him titled “Straight Outta Tucson,” which was filmed by FloWrestling and released Tuesday.

Bravo-Young is a two-time national wrestler at Penn State, having won four state championships with a 182-0 record at Sunnyside High School.

He earned his first college degree in his family’s history last year after becoming an A-rate student at Sunnyside after a first year full of F’s.

His elevated rise in wrestling and in the classroom with his Sports Management degree can be attributed to experiencing the depths of hard hitting on Tucson’s south side.

The documentary captures the story of Bravo-Young in a compelling way with interviews given by him, his mother SarahTata Mike BravoSunnyside wrestling coach Anthony Leonformer Sunnyside football and wrestling coach Richard Sanchez and two-time UFC bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz (whose upbringing in Tucson near Flowing Wells High School is similar to Bravo-Young’s).

Much of it was filmed in the area where Bravo-Young was raised by his nana Sylvia and Tata Mike. This is near where he also lived at various times with his mother and Sanchez.

I first met Roman when my brother Andy was taking his graduation photos in 2018.

What struck me first was how correct he was with “Yes, gentlemen” and “Thank you.” His demeanor exuded discipline and respect. I came away knowing that he was brought up the right way and that he was serious about making his next step at Penn State successful because he represented not only himself but his family and community.

His love for his mother and grandparents almost forced him to leave Penn State after a year because he missed them. This is explained in detail in the documentation. He stuck with it and became a national wrestling sensation, seeking a third national title this season with the Nittany Lions. With potential NIL deals in mind, Bravo-Young cleverly returned for his fifth season of eligibility, which was allowable due to COVID-19 when he was a sophomore in 2019-20.

After his first season at Penn State, he unhesitatingly agreed to my invitation to speak with the students I teach – Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

“Don’t let any adult tell you you can’t be successful,” Bravo-Young told an audience full of kids. “Trust yourself and your abilities.”

Bravo-Young grew up without a father, which he comments on in the documentary. His father Romego Younga state champion wrestler in Sunnyside whom Mike Bravo coached when Young moved from Minnesota to Tucson, returned to the Midwest early in Roman’s childhood.

Roman and his siblings had their highly demanding Tata as a father figure.

Leon calls Mike Bravo “one of the best wrestling coaches of all time in Arizona”.

The elder Bravo molded Roman into a wrestler from the days of yelling out a window for Roman to lift weights correctly using the equipment he had set up in the backyard. He forced Roman to run up a mountain in the middle of the day in June and July while driving his car next to it.

This is tough love to the max.

To Roman’s credit, he didn’t rebel against his Tata.

He gathered his pride and answered the challenges.

After Roman used a quick takedown for sudden victory to beat the No. 1 DatonFix of Oklahoma for his first national title of 2021, his Tata threw himself on the ground and lay there crying.

Roman responded to a negative lifestyle portrayed in the documentary when he spoke about a gun pointed at him when he was in high school. The documentary begins with a video of Roman driving past a squatter area near his childhood home.

Sarah, who admitted to being a drug addict during Roman’s childhood, was brought to tears as she spoke about her son’s success in terms of his upbringing. She spoke about how the sacrifices the family made to support Roman’s development were worth it.

When Roman won his first national title, “I knew that everything I was struggling with, everything I had done, was closing,” she said.

Growing up in an area similar to the Southside, near Bilby and Valencia, less than a mile from Sunnyside, I could feel Sarah’s feelings.

The documentary was strong in that regard and hit exactly what many of us have experienced.

Roman Bravo-Young is a shining example of what a person can become when they overcome their doubts and fears.

“You just have to believe in yourself. Psyche is the greatest thing,” he said in the documentary. “Ups and downs are part of life, the victories and defeats…get back up…we’re all just trying to get through this life together. That’s one thing I say to myself, ‘This is my story and I’m trying to get through it.'”


Javier Morales, Publisher, Writer and Editor of, is a past Arizona Press Club honoree. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News, and Baseball America, among many other publications. He is also the author of the book The Highest Form of Living, available on Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is currently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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