Josef Tesar has had a remarkable career as an amateur wrestler and it is almost a certainty that the achievements would have been even more far reaching if certain circumstances would not have entered the picture.
Born in Teplice in the Czech Republic of Czechoslovakia, Tesar first took up the sport of Greco‑Roman wrestling at the age of 13. Seven years later, in 1976, he was the Czech junior champion and top sportsman of the Czechoslovakian army. In total, Tesar won Five Czechoslovakian championships ‑ twice in espoir (19 and 20‑year‑old division), twice in junior and once in senior.
In 1979, Tesar defected from his native Czechoslovakia and was a political refugee in Austria for one year before coming to Canada and Prince Albert in 1980. Without having trained for over a year, Tesar placed second at the Canadian national Greco‑Roman championships and was second in the provincial freestyle discipline in 1980.
Tesar tried, without success, to attract the attention of a national coach and for the next three years he trained exclusively by himself. In 1983, Tesar won both the provincial and Western Canadian Greco‑Roman championships and the following year, after first‑place finishes in the Detroit Open and New York‑Albany Open, he tried out for the Canadian Olympic team and landed a spot on the squad for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. However, an application to his homeland for permission to compete for his new country was denied three weeks before the Olympics and he had to remain at home.
Tesar retired from competing for four years, but in 1988 he returned to place third at the Canadian Championships. One year later he was the national champion in his weight class.
Tesar won the United States master’s championship in 1991, but again he retired, this time for much more serious reasons. Tesar was diagnosed with cancer in 1993 and after a brave battle he fought the disease into remission.
Tesar returned to competitive wrestling in 1995 and one year later he was fifth at the Canadian championships. Tesar was hoping to secure a spot on the 1996 Olympic team while his son, Josef Jr., vied for a place on the Czech national team. Both were unsuccessful, but the dream lives on for the 2000 Games in Australia.
Tesar’s accomplishments in wrestling are not only limited to those as a competitor. Since moving to Prince Albert in 1980, he has been a driving force with the Prince Albert Wrestling Club.
In 1983 and ’87, Tesar was the provincial Greco‑Roman coach at the Western
Canada Summer Games and in 1986 and ’88 he was the national Greco‑Roman coach for the world championships.
Tesar has been named the Prince Albert Wrestling Club coach of the year in 1988 and one year later he was the Prince Albert Sportsman of the Year, Saskatchewan Dairy Producer rural coach of the year and winner of the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association Maple Leaf Coaching Award.
It is with great pride and honour that the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame welcomes Josef Tesar into the hall in the athlete and builder’s divisions.
Inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.