Hunter Lee is back on the mat and has earned the right to represent Canada in two upcoming international events.
The Flin Flonner will take part in both the upcoming senior world championships and U23 world championships for Canada, winning spots in both competitions after strong performances in recent national team trials.
Lee entered in the men’s freestyle 86-kilogram classification in the recent Wrestling Canada Lutte U23 and Senior World Team Trials, held in his adoptive hometown of Saskatoon at the Saskatoon Inn and Conference Centre. Wrestling in a conference room (complete with a chandelier hanging from the ceiling), Lee was entered in both the senior draw and the U23 draw.
Three wrestlers, including Lee, took part in the senior national team trials in the group. Lee would wrestle against Samuel Barmish and Jeremy Poirier, both of the Concordia Stingers wrestling program in Montreal. The two Montrealers would face each other, with the winner facing Lee.
After Barmish won, Lee got a quick win over Barmish, getting a 10-0 victory and punching his ticket to one championship tournament.
In the U23 draw, Lee was one of only two entrants - the other being an old nemesis of Lee, Brock Badgers wrestler Tejvir Boal. The two have faced off several times in the past - Lee got the better of Boal at the 2019 Junior Canadian Wrestling Championships, but lost to Boal back in 2015 at national team trials.
Lee got the best of this matchup between familiar foes, winning 10-0 and punching his second ticket.
As a result of his wins, Lee qualified for a pair of tournaments later this year - the United World Wrestling (UWW) Senior World Championships in Norway this October and the U23 World Championships in Serbia this November. Lee will represent Canada in the 86-kilogram classification in both events.
It was Lee’s third and fourth major competition this year, having taken part in tournaments in Ukraine and Italy in the spring.
Earlier this summer, Lee made the jump from the wrestling mat to the octagon for the first time - and his maiden mixed martial arts (MMA) fight ended with a quick victory.
Lee made his amateur MMA debut August 15 at BTC Fight Promotions 11 at the River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton, fighting against fellow debutant Ryan Reid. Barely a minute and a half into the first fight on the card, Lee had tapped Reid out, gaining top position on his opponent and making him submit to a rear-naked choke.
Lee had started training in MMA in earnest last year during the pandemic and has said in the past that moving from wrestling to MMA was a long-term goal of his, mentioning there were more chances to move ahead with an MMA career than there were in amateur wrestling.
While Lee had never stepped into the octagon in an organized fight before this week, on the wrestling mat, Lee’s accomplishments speak for themselves - silver and bronze medals at the United World Wrestling (UWW) Pan-American Championships, a bronze medal at the 2019 UWW Junior World Championships, two national university wrestling titles and several other honours.
A second fight date has not yet been set for Lee.