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Daniel Igali  

Olympic Gold Medal Wrestler

Baraladei Daniel Igali was born and raised in the deep interiors of the Niger Delta, in the village of Eniwari, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Daniel’s personal quest to excel in wrestling began at the age of 16, and he overcame numerous hardships to win a Gold Medal for Canada in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Nigeria did not offer organized competitive wrestling, but coming from a family of twenty siblings, Daniel did not suffer from a shortage of wrestling partners. Realizing that he was talented, Daniel competed and won in the 1990 Senior National Wrestling Tournament. In 1993 and 1994, Daniel was the African Champion after winning the 62kg weight class in Pretoria, South Africa, and Cairo, Egypt, respectively. His career didn't take off until he arrived in Canada for the 1994 Commonwealth Games. He finished 11th overall, but was faced with the more difficult reality that the political situation in Nigeria at the time was extremely volatile.  Daniel made the difficult decision to remain in Canada to pursue an education, and his career in wrestling. He claimed refugee status and was granted Canadian citizenship in 1998.

Attending Simon Fraser University, Daniel's collegiate wrestling record of 116-0 over the period of three years was a formidable achievement that has not yet been matched. He placed fourth at the 1998 World Championships in Tehran, Iran, and second at the World Cup in 1999. In September 1999, Daniel became Canada's first men's world wrestling champion when he won six straight bouts in the men's 69 kilograms division at the World Freestyle Wrestling Championships in Ankara, Turkey.

Competing in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Daniel reached the pinnacle of sports success when he become the first Canadian to win a gold medal in wrestling. After undergoing a spinal fusion in 2003, he defied odds by placing a 6th at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. He has been honoured twice as Canada's Outstanding Male Amateur Athlete of the Year. In 2007, Daniel was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2010, he was inducted in the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Daniel is the President of the Igali Foundation Inc., a Not-For-Profit foundation that caters to the needs of underprivileged children all over the world. He recently broke ground on a new school and community centre in his hometown of Eniwari. Daniel spends a considerable amount of time on the "Keep Sweating Tour", where he speaks to school kids, different groups and corporations about the benefits of healthy living, making positive choices, and the importance of kindness and respect. Additionally, Daniel holds a master's degree in criminology from Simon Fraser University, and has become a popular and much sought after motivational speaker.


Daniel Igali - Why Qivana on Vimeo
added over 6 years ago

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