History of Jamaica Wrestling

Beginnings (1975 - 2000)

1978

In 1978 in Edmonton, the first Jamaica wrestler on record to compete internationally was Fitzloyd Walker, at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

1996

Alex Raptis competed during 1996 Olympic cycle, competing in Leipzig, Germany, and at the 1995 Pan Am Games qualifiers.

Turn of the Century (2000 - 2010)

2000

There were various efforts made to develop wrestling on the island as numerous Jamaican wrestlers competed in Canadian, Cuban, and American national championships with vary degrees of success. Some won national titles and others were high-level national medalists.

Alex Raptis fails to qualify Jamaica wrestling for the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Formation of Federation (2011 - 2019)

2011

The Jamaica Wrestling Federation was founded by Kevin Wallen as the National Governing Organization (NGO) of the sport of wrestling from youth through the Senior Olympic level for beach, freestyle, and Greco Roman wrestling.

The successful effort of the International Wrestling Community to have Wrestling reinstated in the Olympics is a great example of the democratic ideal at work. Former wrestlers, Wayne Smythe and Rick Henry view the work Kevin Wallen is doing in Jamaica in the same light as a part of the expansion of Wrestling in the Commonwealth at a critical time in the history of Wrestling.

Kevin Wallen wrestled for Jamaica at a Commonwealth Championship in Melbourne, Australia August 5-7 2011, partially funded through the Commonwealth Wrestling Association.

2012

The news of Olympic Wrestling in Jamaica first found my ears in the Royal City, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, March 2012.

March 2012, FILA supplied the (JWF) with the first wrestling mat in Jamaica.

With assistance from Josip Mrkoci, Chair of the Commonwealth Wrestling Association, the current status of (JWF) and suggestions for helping and moving the initiative forward.

The Commonwealth Wrestling Association was also able to support in the following ways:

Harry Curtis – Wrestling coach/teacher from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada to go to Jamaica for 3- weeks in April 2012 to facilitate some wrestling clinics.
Owen Dawkins – Head Coach of the University of Alberta was also able to visit Jamaica for 3 weeks in July 2012.
Kris Kelman – Head coach of Heartlake Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, Canada and Rick Henry from Texas, USA also made the trip in the summer of 2012.

2013

Wayne Smythe had a conversation with Kris Kelman at the, Ontario, Provincial, High School Championships, OFSSA, in March 2013. He suggested that what is needed in Jamaica re helping Kevin Wallen build the infrastructure for Olympic Wrestling could not be done at arms length, meaning that one of us would have to move to Jamaica and commit to the Head Coach Position.

On May 2013, Wayne Smythe decided to fund a business trip to Jamaica, to do a personal and business assessment surrounding the initiative. Rick Henry and Wayne Smythe agreed to meet Kevin Wallen few training sessions at the Chinese Benevolent Centre on, Old Hope Road. The three of us spent time getting reacquainted and visioning the future of Olympic Wrestling in Jamaica.

In June 2013, Kevin Wallen and Wayne Smythe negotiated a contract for the head coach position. We established a tentative membership list, created a budget, and set an agenda.

In June 2013, the newly formed, JWF, had a well-received meeting at GC Foster Teachers College in regards to adding wrestling to the physical education teachers curriculum.

2014

January 18, 2014 Jamaica was represented at the Guelph Open in Guelph Ontario Canada, see the link below.

Source: https://www.guelphmercury.com/sports-story/4324117-guelph-open-attracts-jamaican-national-wrestling-team/

2015

FILA rebranded United World Wrestling (UWW)

2016

GCF

GC Foster College, Principal, Joyce Graham-Royal , approves wrestling on the curriculum at the tertiary institution.

Principal of G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in St Catherine Dr Joyce Graham-Royal (centre) shares a photo opportunity with members of the Future Champs of Texas organisation, who staged a five-day wrestling workshop at the institution from August 22-26. They are (from left) Michael Campitelli, Robert Zee, Rick Henry and John Cho.

The G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, which has produced some of the country’s most outstanding athletes and coaches in various disciplines, is adding wrestling to its programme offerings.

“We have all the equipment that we need to ensure that this happens,” says principal of the St Catherine-based institution, Dr Joyce Graham-Royal.

“We have the personnel as well to ensure that a broad-based foundation is set for this course,” she added, noting that the introduction of wrestling at the college “will bring tremendous opportunity for students to be exposed to a new discipline”.

Graham-Royal pointed out that Jamaica is “filled with persons who are naturally quick and we naturally run fast, but we need to introduce other sports that we know we will do well in or that we know we can compete in at the Olympics. Wrestling is, in fact, an Olympic sport for both men and women.”

Source: https://jis.gov.jm/wrestling-introduced-g-c-foster-college/

2017

Future Champs of Texas hosts first-ever combat sports camp at GC Foster College.

2018

In February 2018, Jamaica earned its second international medal won by Lesyan Cousin at the Central American and Caribbean Championship in Havana, Cuba.

In April 2018, Kevin Wallen competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia.

In May 2018, Lesyan Cousin and Yosvany Grant competed for Jamaica at the 2018 Pan Am Championships in Lima, Peru.

In October 2018, Yoandrys Grant competed in freestyle at the 2018 world championships for Jamaica in freestyle in Budapest, Hungary, while Lesyan Cousin competed in Greco Roman.

2019

In April 2019, Lesyan Cousin (87 kg, Greco Roman) and Angus Arthur (86 kg freestyle) competed at the Pan Am Senior Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

June 2019, Angus Arthur finished third at 86 kg at the 2019 Canada Cup.

August 2019, Angus Arthur competes for Jamaica at the 2019 Pan Am Games.

In September 2019, Angus Arthur competed at the 2019 Senior World Championship in Kazakhstan.

Finally, Angus Arthur become the first Jamaican to compete at an age-group world championship as he competed at the 2019 u23 world championship in Budapest, Hungary.

A "New Normal" covid years (2020 - Present)

2020

In February 2020, Lesyan Cousin placed 3rd at the Cerro Pelado in Cuba.

In 2020, both Cousin and Arthur both competed and placed at the 2020 Pan Am Championships and Pan Am Olympic qualifiers.

April 2020, all wrestling events worldwide were postponed due to Covid-19 Pandemic.

2021

In May 2021, Lesyan Cousin competed in the Last Chance Olympic qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria then later in November 2021, 3x NAIA All-American, Aaron Johnson competed at the u23 world championships in Belgade, Serbia.

Wrestlers

Fitzloyd Walker

Senior

Alex Raptis

Senior

Kevin Wallen

Senior

Yoandrys Grant

Senior

Lesyan Cousin

Senior

Angus Arthur

U23, Senior

Aaron Johnson

U23

Source: UWW/FILA

Coaches

Wayne Smythe
Aurelio Valdez
Anthony Jones
Rick Henry
Kevin Wallen
Keagan Calkins

Jamaica Wrestling Federation Presidents

Kevin Wallen

2012 - 2017

John Issacs

2017 - 2020

Osayimwese Osagboro

2020 - Present