Life Of A Brave: Armenian Wrestlers Become Bosco Brothers

by Oscar Aranda

Bosco Brotherhood! A common feeling that both Armenian wrestlers, sophomore Grigor Cholakyan and freshman Niko Sahakian, have felt since arriving on the campus of St. John Bosco.

Sophomore Grigor Cholakyan (Photo by Jim Thrall/Mat Focus)

Both wrestlers are underclassmen here at St. John Bosco and are now both experiencing their first in-class studies after being online for the entirety of the past year. Niko and Grigor both agreed that the welcome they have felt at Bosco is like no other, especially compared to the school environment in Armenia.

“At this school, we have a special brotherhood that you may not always find at schools in Armenia. There’s no comparison,” said Grigor. 

These wrestlers also have big academic goals for themselves this year. Grigor and Niko made it clear that the most important thing to them was to maintain a 4.0 GPA status while winning a team and individual CIF-State title. They both realize that they will have to study hard to achieve these goals all while balancing their athletic careers. However, they are unfazed, as they are fueled with the desire to attend an American division-one college.

“I would like to attend a division-one college with a full-ride scholarship, and I don’t only plan to be just on the wrestling team, but I plan to be a starter all four years of my college career,” said Niko.

Freshman Niko Sahakian (Instagram)

These young men are not only just scholars in the classroom, but nationally acclaimed wrestlers. During the summer, Grigor went to the rigorous national tournament, Fargo Nationals, and placed fifth, which put him into the national rankings at number twelve. Niko also placed sixth at Fargo Nationals and was himself placed 25th in the nation as a freshman.

The wrestlers plan to be a great asset to the Bosco wrestling team this year at both the lower and heavier weights. Grigor mentioned that he was planning to go 126 or 132 pounds this season and Niko is set on 220 pounds. The Bosco wrestling team has always lacked heavier weights, and Niko came into our program understanding this.

“I saw the success Bosco wrestling has had throughout the years, but not much noise has been made up in the heavier weights, so I believe I can create my own legacy here,” said Niko 

Grigor attended St. John Bosco freshman year and has had one prior season with Bosco wrestling, but this was cut short due to COVID restrictions. Grigor explains that he was unsatisfied with the fact that he was unable to attend the CIF-State tournament along with other nationally acclaimed tournaments that come with a regular high school season. Though he was happy that the team was still able to participate in CIF-Duals and of course, beat Servite! 

Grigor plans to have plenty of success this upcoming season and plans to do this by putting in some extra work after practices. He talked about how he goes on runs and lifts on the weekends, which keeps him conditioned. He tends to run the hills in Hollywood with his close friends, who are also Armenian natives. 

“My move during a match would have to be my blast double. I get told that I have one of the slowest takedowns, yet I’m able to take anyone down at will,” said Grigor.

He knows his extra training will be seen when in competition because no one will be able to keep up with his conditioning. With a combination of his conditioning and his excellent wrestling skills, Grigor has the confidence that he will dominate his competition during the upcoming year. 

Niko also has high hopes for this upcoming season, but he did show some concern pertaining to a full season, because of the short season last year. Although he still believes he will have a great freshman showing. 

Niko enjoys watching wrestling matches on his off time and really studies different moves whenever he gets the chance. He also went on to say that he has found a new love for lifting and uses that as his extra training outside of daily practices. 

Niko has a different type of wrestling style that is heavily influenced by his Armenian culture. The normal style that is popular in many inside the United States is called “folkstyle,” but Niko’s specialty is Greco-Roman wrestling, which is only upper body.

Niko explained that he started wrestling because he went to one practice and got thrown on his head in Greco-Roman wrestling, and since then, he has loved it. Niko is known for his throwing ability during a match and it will only grow from here.

“I plan to widen my knowledge of wrestling and open up my arsenal a little bit more. I know coming into high school I will need to start doing more moves, so I plan to start shooting more,” said Niko

When asked to give a message to their fellow Brave Brothers who are thinking of joining the wrestling team, they both gave similar answers: it would be a life-changing experience that will teach you many lessons you wouldn’t expect from such an aggressive sport.

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