The Yuhasz Era: 1955-63

It was during Mike Yuhasz’ time as coach that Western became renowned throughout the province for its varsity wrestling program. Yuhasz himself had been a Mustang wrestler in the late 1940s and had placed second in the Ontario University Association championship.

During Yuhasz’ tenure, the Mustang grapplers were highly successful. The team won the senior Inter- collegiate Team Championships in 1956, 1958 and 1960. The 1958 team was particularly outstanding as it had a record six individual champions in the nine weight classes, which included Reg Reynolds, Jim Joy and Don Nielsen.

As a coach, Yuhasz recognized the importance of involving potential wrestlers in competitions from a young age. In 1959, under his guidance and leadership, Western held the first high school wrestling tournament in which eight Ontario high school teams participated. This event encouraged the establishment of the official status of wrestling by the Ontario Federation of Secondary Athletic Association. Glynn Leyshon, then a high school coach, became the first chair of the sport in 1961.

Wrestling soon became the fastest growing high school sport in the country. Universities then started actively recruiting high school athletes who, for the first time, had experience wrestling prior to starting university. Seeing the increased popularity of the sport, Mustangs coach and wrestling alumni Yuhasz, alumni Bill Salter, and then high school coach and alumni Glynn Leyshon instituted the Ontario Wrestling Officials' Association, the first referees' association in Canada. The Association assisted in the training and evaluation of high school wrestling officiates through their instructional wrestling manual for high school coaches, the first in Canada, and through a yearly written test and clinics to qualify officials held at Western.

By hosting and promoting high school wrestling competitions, and by creating the high school coaching and officiating training systems, Western became the university of choice for high school wrestling athletes. Many of the high school coaches at the time were also alumni Mustang athletes, including Glynn Leyshon, coach for Winston Churchill Collegiate in Toronto. 

1955 wrestling briefs.

1958 intermediate champions.

1959 Ontario high school wrestling tournament.

1961 wrestling warm-up jacket.

1955-56 Intermediate Wrestling Team with Coach Mike Yuhasz (far right).