Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Zahid Valencia
by Savannah Asmann, USA Wrestling
As Hispanic Heritage Month continues, USA Wrestling aims to spotlight athletes in the Hispanic community that have had an impact on the sport both on and off the mat. Zahid Valencia is the U.S. Men’s Freestyle World Team member at 92 kg and is coming off of a bronze medal-winning performance at the 2023 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
For Zahid, being Hispanic means more than just a cultural identity; “Being Hispanic means family, love, sacrifice, culture, and faith. All of these things, I was taught and shown by my parents growing up,” he explained.
Zahid's wrestling journey began at the age of two, alongside his brother, at the Terminators Wrestling Club in California. “We’d go to many of the practices even though we were still too young to really practice with the team,” said Valencia. “I was fortunate with a lot of success starting early on, winning most youth tournaments around the country and ended up being a three-time state champion, two-time national champion, and just recently won a bronze giving me my first world medal.”
He remained resilient through challenges that he has faced in his career, focusing on his growth and the potential for future success. “I always focused on my growth and saw the success that I can have in the future,” he stated.
Zahid's Hispanic heritage provides him with a unique perspective. As a strong competitor on the mat, he recognizes the influence he has withing the wrestling community. “Right now, I’m focused on my wrestling and figuring out all the other parts in my life, like what I’m going to do after wrestling. Am I going to coach, am I going into business,” Zahid explains.
“I know while chasing to be the best and having success along the way, people are going to look up to me and see me as a role model, especially the youth wrestling community. I like to give back whenever I can by doing camps and privates and motivating the next generation of kids to great.”
Beyond the wrestling mat, Zahid recognizes the influence he also has on the Hispanic community. Winning a bronze medal for Team USA was a moment of pride, and his heart beats for his Mexican roots and the Hispanic community that molded him.
“I really do love representing my Hispanic community! It’s my Mexican family and Hispanic community that made me the man that I am today. So, I love showing people my Mexican roots,” said Zahid.
Zahid Valencia shines as an example of dedication and pride. His wrestling journey exemplifies his commitment to both the sport and his Hispanic heritage. More than a wrestler, Zahid’s heritage is rooted in family, love, and cultural pride. As he reflects on his journey and determines the future, his hard work and leadership embodies the spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month.