Courtesy of Alex Karwowski

By Alex Karwowski

Minneapolis has always been a hub for international wrestlers to train and perfect their art.

Recently, the Minnesota Storm welcomed the Puerto Rican national team to their facilities for
two weeks of training to help them prepare for the Central American Games in El Salvador this month.

With so many athletes from all over the world coming to Minneapolis to train, The Storm built a reputation for itself as being a premiere international training hub.

Jose Jordan, a wrestler for the Puerto Rican national team said the facilities in Minneapolis had bigger mats, more exercise equipment, and much more partners allowing him to have versatility in his training.

“The different partners – it’s great because I can transfer to different persons of different heights in the same weight,” Jordan said. “I can develop my techniques to see if I’m better or worse, and how to practice.”

Head Coach of the Minnesota Storm Dan Chandler welcomes foreign wrestlers to his facility
due to the benefits it brings his own team.

“Every country has a different wrestling culture, a different style, different techniques, different strategy,” Chandler said. “You learn what skills they [other teams] teach, what strategies they teach, and figure out how we can use those to our advantage.”

Jordan said Chandler’s coaching style relies heavily upon speed, a skill very different from the
traditional Puerto Rican style.

“You have to be like explosive and have the speed to like get a technique and draw it as fast as you can,” Jordan said. “The speed is like crucial.”

Courtesy of Alex Karwowski

Jordan said he enjoys training internationally due to the different training techniques he learns, some being more technical based, others more resistance based. He said it’s helped him a lot as a wrestler.

Even though the Storm compete against the Puerto Rican team, athletes across the world still train and learn from each other because the wrestling community is a family, said Chandler. Puerto Rican Head Coach Juan Fernandez and Chandler have known each other for 25 years, and even used to train together.

“He lived in Minnesota for two and a half years and he assisted me with my junior program, so we’re good friends,” Chandler said.

Courtesy of Alex Karwowski

In recent years, the Storm hosted wrestlers from multiple countries including Ukraine, Sweden, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Canada, Armenia, Norway, and Germany. Some notable international stars who have trained with the Storm include:

Arsen Jufalakyan -Armenia
2014 World Champion
2012 Olympic Silver Medalist
2009 European Champion
4x World Medalist
4x European Medalist

Zhora Abovian – Ukraine
5th Place- 2019 European Games
7th Place- 2021 World Championships
3x Ukrainian World Team Member
Ukrainian National Champion

Bogdan Kourinnoi- Sweden
3x Swedish World Team Member
European Championships Bronze Medal
Swedish National Champion

Pedro Isaac Mulens- Cuba
2x World Bronze Medalist
5th Place- 2012 Olympics
Cuban National Champion

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