Oak Bay High student John Fayad brought wrestled for gold twice at the BC Summer Games recently in Nanaimo. The 17-year-old won top spot in his individual weight division (66kg), and with that win, helped carry the Vancouver Island-Central Coast team to gold.
Fayad’s athletic career started early, when he began going to Zuma gym in Esquimalt at only eight years old.
“We pretty much started a program for John and some other kids,” said Sarah Kaufman, a UFC fighter who’s worked as an instructor at the gym since it opened. Fayad’s dad, a personal trainer and black belt in judo, wanted something other than the prevalent karate and kenpo classes for his son, said Kaufman. Enter Adam Zugec, a coach with a variety of skills not yet seen very much on the Island.
“Adam was one of the first ones to come in with muay thai, grappling, jiujitsu, wrestling,” said Kaufman.
Half a dozen years later in Grade 8, a high school student introduced Fayad to wrestling, and it took off from there. Fayad has been at the gym, and under Zugec’s guidance for the last nine years.
“The coaches are really good,” he said. “And (the gym has) the best training partners. You need someone who will push you.”
Fayad, who’s also played rugby, baseball and basketball, said he enjoys the challenge of being on his own in the ring. “I like how it’s one-on-one. It teaches you to be more independent,” he said. “It can be stressful too. It’s only you out there.”
He said competing in the BC Summer Games was “one of the best experiences (he’s) had,” and it was a challenge too. “There was no one bad there,” he said. And even with two gold medals hanging on his neck, he’s still quick to identify room for improvement.
“I need to get a lot better on the ground. Become a bit more technical.”
No stranger to competition, Fayad’s tested his wrestling skills and strength in matches provincially and for western Canada, but despite his success, he said he’s not sure if a professional wrestling career is in the cards.
“I might try to wrestle after high school,” he said, “but I definitely want to go to school.” Universities on the Mainland or back east are on the top of his list, and he said he’ll likely study business when he gets there. Academic success is just as important to Fayad, who’s already taken pre-calculus, and plans to continue on with calculus in September as he enters his final year.
Keeping up with workouts four to five times per week, sparring, weights and cross country on top of a busy senior year will no doubt be challenging, but given the discipline he’s shown up until now, he’s sure to be successful.