Daniel Igali made history as the first Canadian wrestler to win gold at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. His aggressive style has earned him many victories and as an athlete, he has also become a favourite among fans.

Having long admired Canada’s competitive and educational opportunities for wrestlers, and the talents of many Canadian wrestlers, Igali made the decision to move to Canada following the 1994 Commonwealth Games. A meeting with Commonwealth gold medalist Greg Edgelow and Commonwealth Games volunteer driver Tom Murphy led him to Dave McKay and Mike Jones, coaches at Douglas College and Simon Fraser University.

“He had a lot of skill,” said McKay, “but his technique and tactical skills needed refining.”

Igali enrolled at Douglas College and later transferred to SFU to work on a degree in Criminology.

Among Igali’s impressive career highlights are winning the 63-kg title at the African Championships, winning Canada’s first-ever world wrestling championship in the 69-kg class in Ankara, Turkey, and holding a perfect 116-0 record at SFU. He also set a NAIA competition record by making it to his third consecutive NAIA championship. At that time, he was named top university and top overall athlete in BC. In 1998, he gained Canadian citizenship.

In 1999, Igali became the first Canadian male to win the world freestyle wrestling championship.

The millennium brought more gold for Igali. After securing the Olympic gold in Sydney, Igali’s victory dance around the Canadian flag and the kiss he placed upon it afterwards has become an iconic Canadian image.

He was named winner of the 2000 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s outstanding athlete beating out golfers Lorie Kane and Mike Weir and Olympic triathlon champion Simon Whitfield. Igali topped his awards with the prestigious Norton H. Crowe Award when he was honoured as Canada’s Top Senior Male Athlete at the 2000 Canadian Sport Awards.

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games,Igali won a gold medal in the men’s 74-kg division. He represented Canada once again at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, finishing sixth.

Igali was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. He served as coach and technical advisor for the Nigerian wrestling team at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics Games.