Sports Spotlight: Manvir Sahota

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Manvir Sahota was born in San Jose, California but moved to Vicoria at a young age where he started to wrestle for the first time. 

By Clay Gray
Photos by Mark Burnham

Some say North America is a land of opportunity, a place where people of all cultures and ethnicities are able to live together.  As a born American and fifth-year criminology major, Manvir Sahota knows this is true.  Born in San Jose, California to immigrant parents, Jasbir and Gurjeet Sahota, Manvir has first hand experience with the trials, tribulations, and rewards that are ever present in this society.  The Sohotas didn’t remain in the United States for long. When Manvir was five years old, they relocated to Victoria, British Columbia.

It was in Victoria that a very young Manvir began his life-long love affair with wrestling. His father, who had wrestled during his youth in India, introduced Manvir to wrestling. But when he stepped on the mat for the first time, it wasn’t love at first sight. As a child, Manvir was somewhat undersized — although his now-190-pound frame doesn’t give that impression — and he spent his first year of wrestling being tossed around the mat by some of the girls on the team. Manvir says, “I got pummeled by the girls on the team everyday. I wasn’t strong enough to wrestle with the other guys, because I was just a little guy.”

However, this didn’t deter Manvir from going back to the wrestling room day after day, and after a year of being on the bottom of the pile, his hard work started to pay off. “I went away from it for a year because it was so frustrating. While I was gone, I did pushups, sit-ups, and squats, so when I came back I was finally able to hold my own,” says Manvir. Although he was stronger and little more mature, he still had yet to truly embrace wrestling. But in eighth grade that changed quickly for him once he joined his middle school wrestling team, when he really began to hone his grappling skills.

As Manvir was about to start his post-secondary career, he was restless and felt as though he was stuck in a rut.  It was at this time that his father took the opportunity to bring Manvir back to the small rural village Dhulleta, India, where he grew up. “I lived the village life for six months. There was no running water, no electricity, so we showered with cold water. We butchered and gathered our own food. I made me appreciate everything I had here so much more. It changed me as a person by making me more humble. I learned more from that trip than I ever could from any book or class.” Upon his return to Canada, he had gained a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices that his parents made in order to give him a life full of opportunities.

Manvir has more than success in sport on his mind; academic achievement is also on his docket. Like the other student-athletes at SFU, he believes in getting up early, working hard like his parents taught him, and making the most of his time.  With a busy travel schedule for wrestling, Manvir knows that time management is the key to accomplishing his goals. However, it’s not the daily coordination of practice, school, and work that he views as the most crucial aspect for success, but the preparation that occurs weeks or months ahead of time. Manvir says, “It’s not someone else’s responsibility to organize my semester. I have to be on top of my schedule to make sure everything gets done. People think athletes get special treatment, but it really is just being organized and communicating with your professors.”

As Manvir moves into his final season for the Clan, many people in his life have high expectations for his wrestling.  The great expectations are due to the fact that he placed third in last years National Collegiate Wrestling Association and Canada’s Senior National championships. Recent success and lofty goals have been known to be the undoing of many athletes. So when Manvir assessed this upcoming season he knows that he needs to stay humble and keep his mind and his body strong. He said, “I don’t just analyze the matches I’ve lost, I analyze my wins as well.  I look for things I could have done better, and make those adjustments. By setting small, obtainable goals, I am able to deal with the pressure to win.”