Saying Kingsburg sisters Marina and Regina Doi are close would be an understatement.
“We know exactly what the other’s thinking before the other says it,” said Marina.
“We just have a bond like no other,” added Regina.
From the moment they were born, the identical twins have been inseparable.
“We tell each other everything,” said Regina, the older sister by 38 seconds. “We always do things with each other. We’re the same major. We always study with each other. We always are each other’s drill partner.”
And not long after they were walking, they were wrestling, following the lead of two older brothers who competed in the sport.
“They started practicing when they were 3 1/2 (year’s old),” said their mother Cecilia.
By the time they reached Kingsburg High, the twins had established themselves as wrestling phenoms, despite being less than 5-feet tall, and weighing less than 100 pounds.
“Even competing with the boys, they were winning state and national titles,” said Cecilia.
They won 3 state titles between them in high school, and became regulars on the international stage –most notably — becoming the first sisters to both medal at the Cadet World Championships in Serbia in 2013.
Really, at times, the toughest thing standing in each sister’s way was… their sister.
“It’s like your preparing to wrestle yourself,” said Marina. “Because I know everything she’s going to do. I know what she’s good at, what she’s not (good at). She knows everything I’m good at, and what I’m not (good at).”
Being the same weight class, they competed many times against each other growing up, and when they did meet, it was not only difficult for the twins, but for their parents as well.
“I didn’t like watching,” said Cecilia.
So, the sisters avoided it if they could, like when they chose to be named co-champions of the 97-pound weight class at the Junior Nationals in Fargo North Dakota — instead of facing off in the final — after their junior and senior years of high school.
After high school, both signed with King University, a women’s wrestling power in Tennessee, and both continued to dominate at the college level, especially Marina.
She won back-to-back 101-pound national titles as a sophomore and junior in college, beating her sister in the championship match to win the second of those titles in 2017.
“It was very hard,” said Marina. “After the match, we still gave each other a hug.”
But, by the time the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling National Championships rolled around during their senior years, there were no guarantees either Doi — top-ranked Marina or 2nd-ranked Regina, would make it back to the 101-pound final.
Marina was dealing with the effects of a concussion, and was only cleared to compete shortly before the tournament.
Regina meantime, was now wrestling with an uncomfortable piece of metal poking her in her chest, implanted a couple months before as a way of monitoring her irregular heart rate. In fact, doctors were telling Regina she shouldn’t compete.
“By the time that I wrestled at Nationals,” said Regina. “I had two holes in my chest from the device piercing through my skin.”
“She (Regina) literally had a piece of metal right underneath her skin that was coming out,” said Marina. “Our trainer, literally, brought a scalpel, just in case she needed to cut it out of her skin. It was that severe.”
Marina saw her sister struggling, and naturally, wanted to help.
Before leaving for the tournament, she told Regina, if both again made it to the finals, she was going to forfeit the match, and a chance at a third consecutive title, so Regina could have one instead.
“I was just thinking like, ‘wow, would you really do something like that,'” said Regina.
“I wanted her to be a national champion more than myself,” added Marina. “Because I thought she really did deserve it.”
Marina easily cruised through the tournament, not dropping a point on her way to the final. But Regina’s side of the bracket was much more difficult. Inspired by her sister’s gesture though, Regina fought through the pain, and the tough bracket.
“That (Marina’s promise) kind of sparked something, and that kind of made me say, ‘well, now I really have something to fight for,'” said Regina.
She won a dramatic match in the semifinals over an opponent she had never beaten before.
“I said this in an interview at Nationals, but she literally wrestled her heart out,” said Marina.
What happened next in the final, would soon go viral.
“I was acting it out, acting like I was gonna wrestle,” said Regina.
“We go out there, and I’m bouncing around,” remembered Marina. “And everybody thinks we’re about to wrestle. We even get in our stance and shake hands.”
With their mom taking video, and only the sisters, their head coach, and the referee in on what was happening, Marina and Regina wrapped up their wrestling careers, with perhaps their most memorable performance yet.
“They raised Regina’s hand and I just cried,” remembered Cecilia. “Even now, it’s emotional to think about it.”
Marina conceded the match to her sister, and they both took off their shoes on the mat, signifying the end to their competitive wrestling careers.
“We got a standing ovation from the crowd, and people were crying,” said Regina.
“People started losing it,” said Marina. “I mean, people were crying. They were standing up.”
“I’ve never seen so many people stand up and clap and cry,” said Cecilia. “It was amazing.”
“We were each other’s first match, and now we’re each other’s last match,” summed up Regina. “There’s more to life than winning titles, and events and everything. “It just shows the love that she (Marina) had for me.”
“It was pretty cool, because most people, when they retire, it’s off of a loss,” said Marina. “Sure, mine was off of a loss, but it was a forfeit. I went out the way I wanted to go out, and I think Regina did too.”
Now retired, the twins have transitioned into coaching wrestling, spending this season as assistants at Selma High, while beginning steps towards becoming physician’s assistants.
Regina’s heart condition has been fixed, after a risky, but successful surgery over the summer at Stanford Children’s Hospital.
They deflect questions about who might have won that final match, and maybe it’s better that way, because in the end, they both won.