Ed Ashmore has been coaching wrestling in the Greater Victoria since 1963 and was inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Victoria wrestling guru Ed Ashmore hangs up the sneakers at 83

Ed Ashmore turns wrestling legacy over to next generation in Victoria

The only surprise to the end of Ed Ashmore’s run as a wrestling coach is that it didn’t come sooner.

This is the first fall since 1963 that Ashmore, who’s known as the guru, the dean, the professor of Island wrestling and a member of the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame, hasn’t coached a team.

“My heart is good, but by the end of last season, my legs hurt too much. [The arthritis] radiates from my spine into my legs and ankles,” said the 83-year-old.

It spells the end of the district-wide Commonwealth Bulldogs Wrestling Team, a team created for students whose schools are without a wrestling program, which is all of them this year (a new program, the Victoria Wrestling Club at Zuma gym, is offering a similar service to students in Grade 6 to 12).

Ashmore already misses it, he says. In recent years the Bulldogs were mostly younger kids new to wrestling, with the exception of the Shew sisters and one other teen. There were 18 members in 2016-17.

Over the course of his history, Ashmore could have written a book. During the past 54 years, much of it at S.J. Willis, Ashmore coached Olympians, national champions, provincial champions and district champions. His time at S.J. Willis in the ‘60s and ‘70s remains the golden era of his career, which also included his role as assistant technical director for the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

“S.J. Willis was looked on like the dregs of the district, but it was the most beautiful group of kids. It was the toughest school, but it was full of sweethearts,” Ashmore said. “They were my kids, God bless them, they’re 60 years old now but they’re still my kids. I loved them.”

Ashmore was a gymnastics coach at the Victoria YMCA in 1963 when then wrestling coach Art Burgess injured himself and convinced Ashmore to run the class.

Ashmore, a teacher, then led the team at S.J. Willis and when the existing high school wrestling teams folded, he expanded his program to include any student from SD61 or 63 and coached it long past his retirement from teaching.

“It was decades ago I was promised in perpetuity the use of Cedar Hill’s gym, but I had to work, I had to fight to retain that,” Ashmore recalls.

In recent years Esquimalt has run a successful program and Reynolds too has been off-and-on, though mostly off.

Michael Cappus, a Victoria resident born in Port Alberni, home of the Island’s biggest wrestling scene, is running the Victoria Wrestling Club.

“It’s sad to hear Ashmore has had to stop coaching this year,” Cappus said. “We’re trying to offer a club that will keep [his legacy] going.”

Like Ashmore’s Bulldogs, the VWC meets Tuesday and Thursday nights, 7 p.m. at Zuma Mixed Martial Arts in Vic West. It’s open to students in Grades 6 to 12 and is only $85 for the year, far less than a Zuma membership.

“The athletes will wrestle and train here but wrestle for their schools in meets,” Cappus says. “Our intention is to be as closely affiliated to B.C. School Sports as possible.

The first tournament of the season is in early December, a novice tournament.

“Hopefully we can branch out to the high schools again and start teams in schools again,” Cappus said.

Ashmore has three grandkids in town and three in Calgary.

Students interested in joining the Victoria Wrestling Club can contact Michael Cappus at victoriawrestlingclub@gmail.com or 778-350-4225.

ZUMA is located at 1035 Alston St.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

UPDATED: Materials linked to 1992 Colwood murder found at construction site in Metchosin

West Shore RCMP investigating to determine if relevant to the old case

Local and international artists paint murals across Victoria

Sixteen murals are spread out across downtown Victoria as part of the ‘concrete canvas’ project

Crash snarles traffic on Highway 17

Traffic southbound is seriously delayed and northbound down to one lane on… Continue reading

Oak Bay brothers scoop 10 kg of poop from park paths in 30 mins

Family picks up dog poo to give back, inspire others to be more responsible

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Authorities mull evacuation order for Zeballos

Smoke billowed from the steep hillsides of Zeballos on Friday evening, as… Continue reading

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Most Read