THUNDER BAY – Jacob Luczak says he’s out to shock the world and put Thunder Bay on the wrestling map.
A last-minute addition to the Team Canada squad heading to the Senior World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary, the Lakehead Thunderwolves star said nothing less than a podium finish is the expectations he’s taking overseas.
“I’ve always been someone who steps up to new levels and this is just another level I’m going to have to step to. I’m going to do the work that it takes. I’m hoping to podium. I’d like a medal. I’d like a gold medal,” said Luczak, who captures silver at last spring’s U-Sport Canadian wrestling championships.
“It’s a very long shot to win a match at the world championships, with the short notice that I have and just the experience that I don’t have under my belt so far. Most people don’t think I have a shot in the world, but I’m out to prove people wrong.”
Luczak, who has been wrestling since he was six, won’t have his No. 1 fan with him in Budapest. Sadly, his father Jacek, who was diagnosed last year with terminal cancer, died in May at 59, a few months before Jacob found out he’d been added to Team Canada, after the top wrestler in his weight category decided to forgo the opportunity.
The 24-year-old wrestler, who told his father the day before he died that he was going to make the world championships, plans to lean on those memories of his father for inspiration when he steps onto the mat in Hungary.
He added it was wrestling that helped him deal with the reality his family was facing.
“I knew that when I heard the news that my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, that I needed to be wrestling. I needed that space to really go and be with myself, be with my body, challenge myself and just try to optimize my performances,” said Luczak, who last year returned home from Saskatchewan to spend more time with his father.
“Having this whole past season to experience that with my father – he loved me competing, loved following my career, so I feel this is a lot beyond me. It’s bigger than me and I’m just trying to ride the wave and see what happens.”
He knows his dad will be watching, someway, somehow.
“He said he’s going to be there, so I’m just going there to put a show on for my dad,” Luczak said.
Getting himself prepared to wrestle on the world stage is going to a lot of effort, with just two months to go.
It’s also going to be expensive, Luczak estimating it will cost in the range of $15,000 for transportation and training purposes, including time at the national training centre to compete with elite-level wrestlers like those he’ll face in Budapest.
He’s turning to the public to help offset the costs, through a Go-Fund-Me-style fundraising campaign at the Make A Champ website. To donate, visit www.makeachamp.com/jacobl, or contact him directly at 306-807-0057 or firstname.lastname@example.org.