Which sport do you follow? Is it hockey, soccer, or basketball? Most likely, you like whichever sport is your favourite because of the environment in which you were raised. Considering you spend most of your formative years with your family, there’s a good chance they have something to do with your sport of choice.
For Josh Kim, the family sport wasn’t soccer, or hockey, or even baseball. It was wrestling. With a father who is a certified national wrestling coach, the choice seems obvious — but was it?
“I got started in wrestling when I was nine years old because my dad was a national level coach,” says Josh. “[But] I really only started taking it seriously after grade nine.”
Initially, he was more interested in other sports like hockey rather than his household’s penchant for wrestling. So what drew Josh further into the family passion?
“The feeling of having full control over the situation and having just yourself to rely on,” explains Josh. “And the feeling of [having] your hand raised at the end of the match [is] an addition.”
For Josh, wrestling is full of highs and lows. “[It’s] a sport full of hard moments. You’re constantly pushing yourself to your mental and physical breaking point, whether it is in practice or competition, and it can be difficult to pushing past the mental aspect of the sport can be more difficult than the physical side. But, wrestling also provides you with lasting memories.”
His favourite memory, he says, “has to be winning the Junior National Championships last year and making my first Canadian national team.”
Even after becoming a national team member in 2014, Josh is not content to sit around and boast about his accomplishments — he recognizes that the sport of wrestling is about growth and continuously setting goals, both for the current season and the future.
“My goal for this season is to qualify for the NCAA national tournament, and become an All-American,” he proclaims. “For the future, I want to take the sport as far as I can, becoming an NCAA Champion, and making more [Canadian] national teams.”
With these goals in mind, Josh find inspiration from two wrestlers who have competed in weight-classes similar to the one he wrestles in. It doesn’t hurt that he knows these role-models personally. One is his friend, Russian-born Canadian Olympian Khetag Pliev; and the other his varsity coach, Justin Abdou, who not only represented Canada at the 2000 Olympics but was also an SFU athlete himself — two strong and determined forces on the mat.
Josh also doesn’t have to look too far out of the household for inspiration. His father, Kimin Kim, coached Josh throughout his high school career, and continues to do so during his summer training at home in Toronto.
“Having my father as a coach is great. He knows me better than anyone,” Josh says. “There is no way I would be where I am today without him.”
Although the sport of wrestling is very important to Josh, he finds it just as important to achieve a high quality post-secondary education. For him the choice to come to SFU instead of a school closer to his hometown of Toronto was an easy one.
“I knew [in high school] that I wanted to study criminology, and SFU has an extremely strong criminology program and department,” he explains. “Having known this about SFU and knowing how strong the wrestling program was — the best in Canada — deciding to come here became an easy decision.”
While he works towards his eventual degree, Josh still has two more seasons to wrestle for the Clan. And as his final season wearing SFU’s red and blue approaches, Josh shows no signs of slowing down. Bringing SFU to victory at the Boxer Open in Forest Grove, OR, just last week, he remains a force (in the ring) to be reckoned with.