The next major step for Dhesi is the March Olympic qualifiers, and if he does well enough there, he could punch his ticket to Tokyo representing Canada at the 2020 Olympics.
Amar Dhesi is one of the best wrestlers in the country and is looking to take his talents to the Olympics. The next major step for Dhesi is the March Olympic qualifiers, and if he does well enough there, he could punch his ticket to Tokyo representing Canada at the 2020 Olympics.
Growing up, Dhesi started wrestling from the age of five. He reminisced how he always “wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps as a wrestler and I have kept pushing myself ever since then.” His father founded and currently serves as the president of the Khalsa Wrestling Club and it has been running and growing since 1976. Dhesi has trained with the club and it has helped significantly to shape who he is inside and outside of the gym.
Dhesi had been wrestling his whole life and always committed to getting better each year. However, there was one experience that sticks out to him as the moment he believed he could take this to the next level. In the 9th Grade, Dhesi entered into the Provincial Championships for the 78 kg division and won the gold medal. “It was a tough tournament with a lot of talented wrestlers. I know I had to be at my best to even have a shot and I just went out there and won it all.” From this moment on, Dhesi strengthened his commitment to the sport and set his sights on more championships, and ultimately, the Olympics.
He had a successful high school wrestling career winning several Provincial championships. His pinnacle victory, however, came as a grade 12 student as he snuck his way into the U21 Junior National Showcase in Las Vegas (only for Americans). Dhesi recalls how he “didn’t expect to do really well, I just wanted to compete against some of the best older guys. I just put it all out there and kept winning all the way to winning the title.” After he won against the consensus #1 recruit in the nation, numerous institutions sought to get Dhesi to attend their school. Oregon State University won the bidding war and brought Dhesi in on a scholarship where he has been a 3x All-American wrestler. He became the first wrestler from BC to get a scholarship to a Division 1 school in the NCAA.
Dhesi has had to battle his way back for these past trials. In 2016, he finished in 2nd place at the Olympic Team Trials which ended his dream to make the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Going into the trials, Dhesi was seen as the young star and favourite to win to get to the Olympic qualifiers, but fate didn’t have it that way. Dhesi reached a point where he thought he “was done wrestling, I just couldn’t see myself bouncing back. Then my coaches said the best thing to do is just get back on the mat. And it worked, I have been thriving ever since.” Dhesi owes a great deal of gratitude to his coaches at Oregon State who really pushed him to getting over his tough loss and helping him grow.
He is also a member of the Ohio Regional Training Center (RTC) where he works with the athletes and gets coaching help from the staff. The Ohio RTC have trained world champions and Olympians in wrestling and he hopes to be the next one to make it. Dhesi mentions how “the club has some amazing world champions and Olympians. I want to be the next one, and they have already been helping to make that dream become a reality.”
The importance of wrestling in Indian culture is something that Dhesi understands. Its popularity is growing in India and he relishes the opportunity to represent the Punjabi community on such a high stage in the sport. His future plans focus wrestling through the next two Olympic windows for sure. Dhesi also wants to remain involved with the Khalsa Wrestling Club and continue to give back to the community. With a chance to make the Olympics, Dhesi can be one of the most successful Indo-Canadian athletes at an international level.
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF AMAR DHESI, WRESTLING CANADA LUTTE/ MICHAEL P HALL