Photo by Peter McCabe

West Island Chronicle article by Michael Piasetzki. April 18, 2002

What a difference a year made in Pierrefonds resident James Mancini’s amateur wrestling career. Chronicle, Peter McCabe James Mancini shows off the gold medal and plaque he earned at juvenile wrestling nationals. Exactly 12 months ago, Mancini found himself at a crossroad, seriously contemplating his future in the sport. He was bitterly disappointed over his performance in the 53-kilogram freestyle category at the 2001 cadet/juvenile Canadian championships in Saskatoon, where he finished out of medal contention. However, through much introspective searching, he decided to continue competing. But, he felt a change was needed.

So, he left the Pierrefonds-based Riverdale Wrestling Club — where he had learned all his wrestling skills up to that point — and joined Victor Zilberman’s Montreal Wrestling Club. The move, which Mancini said was precipitated by the fact the Montreal Wrestling Club was based at Vanier College, where he was enrolled, paid off. Mancini, 17, won the gold medal in the 58-kilogram juvenile category at the 2002 cadet/juvenile national championships, held in Fredericton from April 4 to 6. He also won a bronze medal in the 58-kilogram Greco-Roman category. For his efforts, he was named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament in the juvenile category. “I’ve been training very hard this year with Victor,” said Mancini. “He’s helped me with my technical game. I’ve been trying to win at the national level for four years now. To finally become a national champion feels really good.” Mancini won his first three matches by 10-0 scores. However, things got tougher in the semifinal against Adam Harada of Sarnia, Ont. Harada took a 5-2 lead in the match, but Mancini came back to tie it at 5-5. He then scored the winning point with six seconds left. The victory put him into the final against Burnaby, B.C.’s Chris Bellefuille. Once again, Mancini found himself behind the eight ball early, trailing 5-0. But, he never lost focus. He came back to tie the match, and eventually went on to win 14-5, closing out with an elevated throw. “That was very exciting,” said Mancini. “I was kind of nervous in the beginning of the match, but once I got into it, I knew the kid couldn’t wrestle with me. The point spread when I trailed was not one I liked, but I came back and won by using my technique.”

Andrea Petrucci, Ice Dancing Champion
David Zilberman, Wrestler Extraordinaire
David Rajjab, Black Belt Taekwondo Champ
Jabari Arthur, Vanier QB is Rising Football Star
Tim Wadsworth, Word-Class Wrestler
Tanya Paradis, National Water Polo All-Star