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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

DANIEL IGALI

Inducted in 2007

Member Details

Date of Birth: February 3, 1974
Place of Birth: Eniwari, Nigeria
Sport: Wrestling
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1997-1999

116 consecutive matches while representing Simon Fraser University

1998

World Cup, Silver Medal - 69 kg Freestyle Wrestling

1999

Pan American Games, Bronze Medal - 69 kg Freestyle Wrestling

World Wrestling Championships, Gold Medal - 69 kg Freestyle Wrestling

2000

Sydney Olympic Games, Gold Medal - 69 kg Freestyle Wrestling

Lou Marsh Trophy

2002

Commonwealth Games, Gold Medal - 74 kg Freestyle Wrestling

2004

Athens Olympic Games, Semi-Finalist - 74 kg Freestyle Wrestling

Honoured Member DANIEL IGALI
Inspire

Story

Daniel Igali's motto was simple: "Beyond the war and the warrior, only the story remains." This is Igali's story. Growing up in a poor family of 21 in rural Nigeria, Baraladei Daniel Igali could not afford to look past the next day let alone look to a future which involved competing at the Olympics. As a small boy, he learned how to wrestle by cavorting with his brothers and sisters. He was inspired at age ten by a visit to his small village by Appah Macauley, one of Nigeria's most acclaimed Olympic wrestlers. Igali vowed to be like Macauley, and in 1990, Igali did, indeed, become the national wrestling champion, earning enough money along the way to put one sister and himself through school. Igali joined a wrestling team in northern Nigeria and became African champion in both 1993 and 1994. But, when his national team traveled to Victoria for the Commonwealth Games in 1994, Igali, the 20-year old team captain, decided to claim refugee status from his war-torn country and remain in Canada. Education and competition were important to him - war and civil strife were not. In making that one decision, his life changed forever. Igali settled in British Columbia and attended Douglas College where he trained four hours a day, six days a week. Two years later and more confident and physically mature, Igali transferred to Simon Fraser University where he studied law enforcement, hoping one day to become a police officer. He wrestled with the SFU team, winning an incredible 116 consecutive matches between 1997 and 1999. His big breakthrough came at the world championships in 1999 in Ankara, Turkey, while competing in the 69kg freestyle class. He won the gold medal, the first time a Canadian had done so, and established himself as the favourite heading to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Igali was flawless in Melbourne, winning every match including the gold-medal showdown against Arsen Gitinov of Russia. This was another first for a Canadian, and as he received his gold medal, Igali wrapped himself in a Canadian flag and wept openly. Tears soaked his cheeks and the flag. His years of hard work, his difficult decision to leave his family and stay in Canada, his fight and ambition to win, all prevailed in Melbourne. Daniel Igali was an Olympic champion - a hero and an inspiration.


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