Alim Sheyhislyamov’s Judo Club Challenge in Toronto

How to raise a healthy child? How to choose the most effective type of training for a young athlete? These issues concern many parents who believe that children’s minds and bodies need to develop equally. Judo coach and owner of Judo Club Challenge Alim Sheyhislyamov has the answers to those questions.

He was born in 1962 in Uzbekistan, where his family – Crimean Tatars – were deported to. Since his childhood, Alim has been interested in various sports, including swimming, and, like all boys of his age, liked to chase a soccerball. He started practicing judo at 13 years of age, and in just three years qualified for a Master of Sports rank. He practiced day and night, and soon he was picked for the USSR youth team. He justified that decision and became the first member of his sports club to win a medal in the Soviet Union championship. But suddenly, as it often happens, his fate experienced a sharp turn: he fell ill and could not train for a long time. He left the sports, focused on his studies and finished the Tashkent University’s Law School.

The year of 1991 brought independence for Ukraine and changed the lives of many Crimean Tatars who started moving back to Crimea. They were returning to their homeland like an avalanche so that it was impossible to get registered with the authorities or purchase a house. Crimean Tatars distributed the unused land in the Crimea in an organized fashion and started building homes in the fields where there was no electricity, natural gas, communication lines and even roads. Alim Sheyhislyamov also moved to Crimea where he started building a house with his own hands. Unlike many others, he was lucky to find a job immediately, and got a position as a coach. He then worked as a lawyer for a commercial bank, and, later, opened his own consulting firm.

Alim was very busy running his business, life went on and he had no intentions to change anything. His children, Dilyaver and Emin, were growing and when the boys started fighting, Alim took them to the gym. A year later, the sons invited the father to the competition to boast of their achievements. Sheyhislyamov recalls: “They were wrestling like blind kittens! My parental duty compelled me to act. I started training them after work.” They boys won the medals at the championship of Ukraine, and then at the international championships. While training his sons, Alim Sheyhislyamov understood how important it is for children to combine sports with school studies. Through this approach, both sons finished school in Ukraine with distinction and did very well in high school in Canada, simultaneously winning the Canadian Judo championship. Alim believes in effective combination of education and sports activities, and successfully applies his method in his Judo Club Challenge: “In our club, to get the next belt, children must bring their positive school report cards. We make sure that they are progressing, both in sports and at school.”

The Club is currently 100-students strong. The students have 3-5 training sessions a week and their ages range from 4 to 50 years. Recently, more and more parents, who have been impressed with their children’s progress, have gotten involved with the club to stay fit. Of course, they are not required to produce their school report cards.

Although Alim is used to the harsh realities of Soviet sport, where the trainers were mostly interested in the results, rather than in the athletes comfort, he firmly rejects this approach: “We care about the children first and foremost. We do nothing to harm them. We never force children to bring their training to the next level. We always carefully prepare the competitions and make sure that the rivals are at the same level.”

Judo Club Challenge also makes a great emphasis on physical preparedness. Alim says that most Canadian coaches believe that fitness coaches should be responsible for physical education of the athletes while the judo coaches only need to teach the wresting techniques. At Judo Club Challenge, Alim tackles both parts of the equation, and he succeeds in that.

In the 9 years that Alim has lived in Canada, he managed, while coaching in Saskatchewan, to prepare from scratch Deborah Mckay, who eventually ranked second in the Canadian adult championship. “She brought her niece to our club, and then wanted to try herself. By the way, her niece, Ashley McBride, twice placed third in the Canadian judo championship”, – he says. While coaching in Ottawa, Sheyhislyamov prepared a prize winner and Canadian champion Jessika Larouche. “My principle is that the sports have given me a lot, and I have to give back,” – says the coach.

Judo Club Challenge has close ties with many sports organizations in Canada. It uses the camp “Falcon” for summer judo camps and organizes camps for wrestlers from Ukraine jointly with the Montreal club (Volodymyr Semyraziom). Currently, the club is hosting Taku Matsuda of Japan, a university graduate who came to Canada for training. The club is also hosting Svitlana and Gennadiy Bilodid, and their daughter Daria Bilodid who has won the European and World championships (under 18) and the youngest champion title. “I have watched my dad training from early childhood, and began to train at 6 years of age. Now my goal is to become a champion in the up to 21 years category, and then in the adult category, and, of course, become an Olympic champion”- says Daria.

There is no doubt that Alim – a man who does not stop halfway and works very hard – will soon be celebrating more victories by his students.

Media group RAZOM