East Canton youngster Mazin Hmidan finds unlikely path to youth wrestling state titles

Youth wrestling state champion Mazin Hmidan of East Canton poses with the medals and trophies he won from winning three different titles this past season.
Youth wrestling state champion Mazin Hmidan of East Canton poses with the medals and trophies he won from winning three different titles this past season.

Just playing around with some other kids has led 8-year-old Mazin Hmidan on a quite a journey in youth wrestling.

The East Canton Elementary School student recently won three individual state championships at the youth level at 55 pounds. Hmidan won the OYWA, OAC and OHWAY state championships. He is believed to be the first Stark County youth wrestler to accomplish such a feat. Perhaps the only thing wilder than the success Hmidan has experienced is how he was discovered.

"We took him to his sister's softball game and some of the boys were all wrestling each other on the side," father Brian Hmidan said. "An area youth wrestling coach happened to be watching all the kids play. The coach approached us and asked us if he had any interest in wrestling competitively because he thought he was a natural."

That chance meeting eventually led the Hmidans to the Donahue Wrestling Academy. It is a school for aspiring youth wrestlers run by former longtime Massillon varsity coach Gil Donahue. Hmidan managed to make an immediate impression on Donahue.

"He had the aggression and the mental fortitude needed to be successful right away," Donahue said. "I coached varsity wrestling at Massillon for over 20 years and very few kids showed that kind of natural ability at that age. He's a special kid."

Donahue began working with Hmidan to help develop his mental approach.

"It's been a different path," Donahue said. "He's traveling a different path than most of the kids his age. They have a lot more trials and adversity early on. They key for Maz is to just keep him focused and keep him wanting to continue on with the sport. You can go a long time in between seeing a kid with his type of ability come through. He really is special."

It's hard to argue with the words of Hmidan's coach after his results this past winter. Hmidan has not just been beating kids his age in his weight class. He defeated some kids who were as much 3 years older on the way to winning one of the three state tournaments.

"He really just blew us away this year with his performance," Brian Hmidan said. "He's ended up just being a natural at it. I always like to tell people that it was a case that Mazin likes to do what he is doing now before he knew what it was he was doing."

The journey continues this summer for Hmidan, who is scheduled to compete at several national events.

His parents are doing everything they can to keep the pressure off of Hmidan as expectations increase with his early success.

"More than anything, we stress to him not to dwell on things either way," Brian Hmidan said. "We don't want him going out thinking that he has to win every time he steps out on the mat. We just want him to do his best with no pressure. That's very important to us. We don't want him to feel success is pushed or mandated by us. We just want him to know that we are proud of him as long as he tries his best. We just want to be proud and help him achieve the things he wants to achieve. We want it to be about the process and having a good attitude."

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This article originally appeared on The Repository: East Canton's Mazin Hmidan wins youth wrestling state titles