The triumphant wrestling team
When George Reinitz became a wrestler at Montreal’s YMHA, he discovered a sport that helped him rebuild his life in Canada. Wrestling provided an outlet for the emotions stemming from his painful experiences during the Holocaust. Deported to Auschwitz (occupied Poland) at the age of 12, George was the only member of his family to survive. George holds a picture of himself and the Canadian wrestling team that was taken in 1952 during a competition against the American team. It marks the first time George took part in an international match. He is proud to have faced an Olympic champion.
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There was a Canada-US meet, used to be annually, and all the participants here were Canadian
champions, and it was my first time in an international meet. I was still a young wrestler at the time, it
was in ‘52, so I was 20.
Where did you start the wrestling when you came here in ‘48?
At the YMHA when we got a free membership, and that was the place where all the newcomers hung
out and there were all the facilities and social clubs. So, that was where I got initiated to the wrestling.
The sport appealed to me right away, and I saw an interesting part of it which was not only a physical
sport but also a lot of technique, of course, conditioning and so on. A lot of things go with it mentally,
like all sports, it’s very important to focus in and I liked that. Also, the fact that I was somewhat
frustrated from the Holocaust, and I saw that this would be good to let off some steam. Prior to
wrestling, I used to blow up very easily and lose my cool, and it didn’t take me long to get into a fight.
And automatically when I started wrestling, all the fighting was a past. And I can say that this made my
life, this is what made me. I made a lot of friends and this was my family. And today, I still feel the same
way, and I am very proud to promote the sport and have youngsters that do appreciate, like I do
appreciate, and I hope that they are going to give back the same way as I did or I do. I am happy to be
able to sponsor the sport and it keeps me young.