Two male wrestlers

Focus on ... wrestling

How a combat sport helped to build a sense of community

The wrestling community in Scotland is made up of many different nationalities, with many of its members having moved here from overseas. The community has helped to develop a sense of belonging for individuals who participated in the sport before moving here.

As part of our focus on equality and inclusion in December, Sport First tells the story of three domiciled wrestlers - a strong example of the power of sport to change lives.

Nicolae 

Nicolae Cojocaru moved to Scotland from Moldova in 2014 after being invited to help coach and prepare athletes for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. He is now ranked fifth in the world and competes at European and world level.

When he’s not competing, Nicolae works as a wrestling coach at a sports academy in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire run by fellow medal-winning Moldovan wrestler Viorel Etko.

Nicolae admits he hadn't intended to stay in Scotland for very long and explains how daunting it was initially to integrate into a new society and culture on his own - although wrestling changed that!

Feeling part of the wrestling community, he has now set up a life here and transferred his sporting nationality to Great Britain, admitting that wrestling was the ‘main tool’ in helping him settle and make friends.

“Being a part of the wrestling community makes me feel fulfilled,” said Nicolae, who looks to use his coaching role to help others improve their lives.

"Wrestling is not just a sport for me at this stage, it is a lifestyle and a huge part of my life.

"I would encourage every parent to give their child the opportunity to participate in sport."

 


Moji 

Mojtaba ‘Moji’ Fathizadeh started wrestling in Iran when he was 12 and moved to Scotland in 2018 aged 26.

Wrestling is one of the most popular sports in Iran, reflected by the big Iranian contingent in the Scottish wrestling community. Moji was introduced to the Scottish Wrestling Academy by a friend within the first few weeks of moving to Glasgow and explained how joining helped him feel like he was included and "part of something in a daunting new place".

Since joining the team last year, when he was struggling to speak English, Moji has managed to get a job working at a Glasgow Club sports centre and has recently obtained his driving licence.

He credits this to the Scottish Wrestling Academy, commenting: "They’ve helped with everything, not only my progress in wrestling but also fitting in here with my visa application and preparing for interviews and jobs."

Moji explains that all his friends are from the wrestling club and how being with people in similar positions makes him feel more at home.

"I’m so happy I found these people. They’re so friendly and helpful."

 

Umaru 

Umaru Sidique was welcomed into the sport after a promising football career came to an end. To keep fit, Umaru tried wrestling and enjoyed the adrenaline rush from sport he’d been missing after giving up football.

As Umaru’s commitment to wrestling grew, he became a coach with Achieve More Scotland and took it upon himself to give back to the community which supported him. A lot of the kids Umaru works with are from the Glasgow school he attended, which makes a big difference as the kids can relate to him.

As a teenager Umaru had some anger issues. The discipline of combat sport allowed him to channel some of that energy in a positive way and has helped him when dealing with kids with behavioural issues.

Using his experience, Umaru can connect with a wide range of young people through wrestling and he believes sport is a great tool for inclusion. 

 

Find out more

Visit the Scottish Wrestling website 

 

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