MMA fighting styles

From Rock to Podium: Huskies Pin Their Hopes on Wrestling’s Lee Brothers

“It’s kind of a family tradition that stems from just having fun in the grass growing up. It’s pretty cool to see us all in the same team.”

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The Lee brothers have always loved a good tune.

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“We were struggling long before we were really strugglerecalls Hunter Lee, senior member of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

Growing up in Flin Flon, the Lees turned their yard into a makeshift wrestling ring, with neighborhood kids hopping in for some of the action.

“We used to have — in the front yard — ‘UFC tournaments,’ we called them,” Hunter said. “It was literally wrestling, but we didn’t know it was wrestling. We would bring all the neighborhood kids and have tournaments to see who could beat whom.

“Then the school randomly opened an elementary wrestling program once a week. And we were like, ‘We can do this in school and we’re out of trouble’ – that was perfect.”

Brothers Carson and Hunter Lee wrestle during a University of Saskatchewan wrestling team practice in Saskatoon on March 10, 2022.
Brothers Carson and Hunter Lee wrestle during a University of Saskatchewan wrestling team practice in Saskatoon on March 10, 2022. Photo by Matt Smith /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

Today, it’s Lee who’s tripled on the University of Saskatchewan’s wrestling team, hosting the Canada West championship match Saturday at the Physical Activity Complex.

Hunter and Carson Lee were joined by their younger brother McGuire on the Huskies roster this season.

“That’s pretty cool,” admitted McGuire. “I’ve always looked up to them in any type of wrestling because they’re obviously very accomplished. Whenever it came to wrestling I would always ask for their help and stuff to try and get better.

This may be the first time a Huskie program has had more than two siblings on one team at the same time.

The more the merrier for Huskies head coach Daniel Olver – the scarier it is for the U Sports opposition.

“It’s just great to see that wrestling has been a big part of their life and to be able to share that with each other and obviously to be able to share with the team as well,” Olver said.

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“It was a natural progression, having one in the room, then two and now this year, with Maguire, we have three.”

Hunter, the eldest, is a former bronze medalist at the 2019 World Junior Championships. He won gold at the 2020 U Sports National Championship and silver in 2019. He is a two-time defending Canada West champion ( 2019, 2020). Most recently, he placed seventh internationally at the Under-23 World Championships.

Carson, who is two years younger than Hunter, is also the defending U Sports national champion and defending Canada West champion.

He is a former 2018 World Cadet bronze medalist who has set his sights on the Olympics.

Maguire just graduated from high school and joined the Huskies last fall. He didn’t qualify for this year’s Canada West tournament, but he’s high on the Huskies’ future plans.

The Lees play an important role for the Huskies, who are looking to defend their 2020 Canada West men’s wrestling banner.

“They’re very athletic, which definitely works in their favor,” Olver said. “These are guys who like to win, who in the last 20 seconds of a match are always connected and know there are opportunities for them. These guys go after wins. Every day in practice “Every day in a game. They don’t let go.”

Olver calls the Lee brothers “the students of sports”.

“They understand the technique,” he said. “They are watching a video. They really study their opponents and look for gaps in the fight. These guys traveled all over the world, competing and getting opportunities. When we show up to a big tournament, there are a lot of hours of wrestling behind it with a lot of different styles from all over the world.

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SWAN SONG HUSKIE?

Hunter said this weekend will “most likely” be his last tournament as a Huskie. Although he still has a year of U Sports eligibility, he will graduate in education this summer and has no plans to return to school.

He can also wrestle.

“It’s hard to say,” said Hunter, who has career aspirations in mixed martial arts.

“As it’s going right now, this will most likely be my last year in wrestling and then completely in MMA. I just find myself drifting more into it, being more interested in it. This week when I’m doing fight, I would have liked to fight instead.

Even so, Olver still sees the untapped potential of the Olympics for Hunter.

“We would love to see him through the Olympics,” he said. “He has a lot more to do in his wrestling career, but it depends on the individual and what they want. You can never force someone onto the mat.

Carson, a former member of the Youth Olympics team, definitely has his sights set on the Summer Olympics in the future.

“I sort of worked my way up the senior ladder,” he said. “2024 is really what we’re aiming for, (to qualify) for the Olympics. And we’ll see where we go from there.

Carson said the Huskies are approaching the Canada West championship as if it were the U Sports national championship.

“It’s still our last tournament of the season as a varsity team, so we’re treating it like we would U Sports (domestic), trying to make the event as big as it is with everything,” he said. he declared. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

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Brothers Hunter, left, and Maguire Lee wrestle during a University of Saskatchewan wrestling team practice in Saskatoon on March 10, 2022.
Brothers Hunter, left, and Maguire Lee wrestle during a University of Saskatchewan wrestling team practice in Saskatoon on March 10, 2022. Photo by Matt Smith /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

LONG DRIVE FROM ‘THE ROCK’

Looking back, the Lee brothers found themselves between the Rock (nickname Flin Flon) and the anvil while growing up there as budding young wrestlers isolated from opportunity, competition and instruction.

This resulted in many long drives between Flin Flon and Saskatoon to train with the Junior Huskies program. It’s a 12-hour round trip—sometimes “every weekend,” as Carson recalls.

“When I’m old enough, I’ll stay here (with relatives in Saskatoon) for a few weeks (at a time) just to get more consistent training.”

Hunter notes that Carson sacrificed much of his high school education to devote himself to wrestling.

“I believe Carson, in his last year of school, had 80 absences (school days) or something because he was here (in Saskatoon) struggling the whole time.”

You can imagine the extra miles put on the vehicles, the amount of gas burned, and the cost of vehicle repairs and maintenance for mom and dad, Kris and Cindi, to pay.

“The price would be quite shocking, so we’re letting it fly over our heads,” Carson said.

It’s been a long journey overall since the early days of their parents sending them out of the house to vent.

“They would send us out there and they would only get involved if someone was hurt,” Hunter recalls. “They were, like, ‘Go play outside’ and that’s kind of what we did.”

Player?

“I don’t really know if it was a fighting game – I just got beat up. You sort of come out of it as you get older,” McGuire said.

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“Sometimes a little friendly brawl can break out once in a while,” Carson laughed. “It was definitely a bit more spirited when we were younger. It’s definitely a lot calmer now.

“It’s kind of a family tradition that really stems from just having fun in the grass growing up,” Carson said. “It’s pretty cool to see us all on the same team. It’s really unique.

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