Daniel Igali has achieved a lot since making Canada his home 18 years ago.
His latest accomplishment was his being inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame last Friday night. He was among seven Olympic legends honoured for their outstanding contributions to the Olympic movement in Canada.
“I grew up being told by my grandmother that dreams should be a size too big so we could fit into them,” said Canada’s first Olympic champion in freestyle wrestling. “I have dreamt big dreams since I was 10 years old. The biggest of them was to make it to the Olympics, the big show, as my grandmother calls it.”
Coming to Canada for the first time in 1994 as captain of the Nigerian wrestling team at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia, Igali remained in Canada seeking refugee status because of the political unrest in his birth country. He acquired Canadian citizenship four years later.
Igali claimed Canada’s first world amateur wrestling title, won a Canadian university record 116 straight contests in a two-year span at Simon Fraser University, where he’s pursuing a Master’s degree, raised millions of dollars to build a school and community centre in his Nigerian hometown and ran for political office here.
Seven years ago, he secured the nomination as the Surrey-Newton candidate for the British Columbia Liberals in the provincial elections, but was defeated by New Democratic Party candidate, Harry Bains.
Igali was inducted into the International Wrestling Hall of Fame at the London 2012 Olympics. He coached the Nigerian team in the summer Games.
The former African wrestling champion was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
BY RON FANFAIR