Wrestler makes the most of athletic scholarship and budding career

A St. Paul’s High School graduate turned professional athlete is following a career path similar to that of Canada’s only male wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal.

“We’ve only ever had one men’s Olympic wrestling champion, Daniel Igali,” said 18-year-old Sam Pereira. “My main goal is to be an Olympian and represent Canada in the 97 kilogram weight class.”

Sam Pereira (center) is an 18-year-old St. Paul’s graduate who is slated to compete at the Junior Pan Am Games in Mexico City in July.


Sam Pereira (center) is an 18-year-old St. Paul’s graduate who is scheduled to compete at the Junior Pan American Games in Mexico City in July.

Pereira explained that Igali represented Team Canada in the 69 kilogram freestyle category at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Igali studied at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia – the school Pereira will attend this fall.

“It will be a huge step forward. It’s the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). I will be able to wrestle more in the United States (USA), which will give me more competition,” said Pereira.

Currently, he is studying at the University of Alberta on a full athletic scholarship. Pereira said the scholarship was what drove him to continue wrestling at a high level.

Pereira recently won the Canadian Junior Wrestling Championship (U20) in his weight class and is set to compete at the Junior Pan Am Games in Mexico City in July.

Pereira’s wrestling career, while hugely positive, took its toll on his body.

“I’ve kind of been injured all year,” Pereira said. “I had burst (lateral collateral ligaments). Just recently I separated my shoulder three times.

One of those shoulder injuries happened just days before the national wrestling team trials. Fortunately, he was able to cross without causing further damage. Pereira is confident that continuing physical rehabilitation will bring relief.

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Pereira plans to pursue studies in criminology in her second year. He explores the possibility of becoming a police officer after graduation.

Pereira’s father, Joe Pereira, describes his son as a sweet and caring child. He says if anything, the young athlete doesn’t have a “killer mind”, but is able to activate a competitive sting when the moment calls for it.

Joe wants young athletes to know that the Canadian wrestling community is full of opportunity, perhaps more so than traditional sports like hockey, football and soccer.

“It’s a phenomenal sport that anyone can play on pretty much a very small budget,” Joe said. “Sam really hasn’t wrestled for that long compared to the others…He was introduced to wrestling in 8th grade by a teacher.”

Before moving into wrestling, Pereira played AAA hockey and competed for Team Manitoba’s lacrosse team. Joe says his son’s wrestling career is in its infancy, as many top wrestlers peak in their late 20s and early 30s.

While living in Winnipeg, Pereira primarily trained at the Schewa Wrestling Club. Joe urges young people interested in wrestling to contact the Manitoba Amateur Wrestling Association to find the nearest club. MAWA can be reached at 204-925-5663 or by email at [email protected]

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community journalist

Katlyn Streilein is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She can be reached by phone at 204-697-7132 or by email at [email protected]

Robert J. King