Physical Training Sept 2003
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2003 Canada Cup of International Wrestling

July 12, 2003
The 2003 Canada Cup of International Wrestling saw the event return to Ontario for the first time in three years. Originally begun in Thunder Bay as a response to the Moscow Olympic Boycott of 1980, the event has been one of the premiere amateur wrestling events in the world over the years, but has struggled of late to stay viable. Last year's event in Calgary, Alberta was very successful thanks in part to a link to the 2002 World University Championships (F.I.S.U.) in Edmonton the week before the Canada Cup.

The success of the 2002 Canada Cup gave the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association the incentive to give the Ontario Amateur Wrestling Association and the Guelph Wrestling Club permission to host one more Canada Cup to determine if the event could be proven worthwhile.

The worth of the Canada Cup came through in flying colours! Over 170 athletes from 16 different countries participated in the 2003 Canada Cup, hosted at the University of Guelph in Guelph Ontario. The 62 Woman and 108 Man field proved to be one of the most successful Canada Cups ever. In spite of battling the S.A.R.S. outbreak, which cost organizers the participation of teams like Germany, the event was a resounding success.

"It's amazing" said Doug Cox, Head Wrestling Coach at the Guelph Wrestling Club and the University of Guelph Varsity Gryphons. "I guess the word on the event is getting out to the International Community and everyone wants to come." The field featured Korea's top World Team, and the Indian National Team, fresh off their dominance at the Commonwealth Championships. Of course, Canada's National Team was also very strong. Past World and Olympic Champion Daniel Igali and six-time World Women's Champion Christine Nordhagen were expected to lead Team Canada.

Being hosted the weekend after the 2003 Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in London, Ontario helped add to an already stellar event by bringing in a handful of Commonwealth participants, including a strong Indian National Team which placed second to Canada in both men's and women's categories.

Highlights of the tournament included the return to competition of past World and 2002 Olympic Champion Daniel Igali of Canada. Daniel won a challenge match to represent Canada at the 2003 World Championships in September in New York City by defeating National Champion Zoltan Hunyady of the hometown Guelph Wrestling Club. Igali had petitioned for the challenge as he was recovering from neck surgery at the time of the 2003 National Championships. Igali went on to compete in and win the Canada Cup as well.

Also impressive was Saeed Azarbayjani, 2002 Ontario Male Athlete of the year, who battled back in the final match of the 60 Kg. weight class against 2002 Commonwealth Games Silver medallist Sushil Kumar of India. Azarbayjani was losing the match with only seconds remaining but scored to snatch the victory. Azarbayjani was named outstanding Canadian Male wrestler for his performance.

On the women's side, Hometown favourite Ohenewa Akuffo of the Guelph Wrestling Club defeated 2001 World Silver medallist Toccara Montgomery of the U.S.A. in overtime to earn a spot in the finals, then defeated Pam Wilson of the Hamilton Wrestling Club, 2002 World University Champion in the final to take the gold. Akuffo was selected the Outstanding Female Canadian for her great performance.

The Canada Cup returns to Guelph in 2004 for an event the organizers hope will be even more special and memorable than this years.

The event was sponsored and supported by the Ontario Amateur Wrestling Association.  The Association is the Provincial Sport Association for Wrestling in Ontario, offering a range of programs from grassroots right on up to top international competitions such as this.

For more infomation on the Association, contact:

Tim MaGarrrey
Provincial Director
or check out our web-site at

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Physical Training Sept 2003