Olympian Myles Amine: Carrier of a Wrestling Family Legacy
By Omar Mansour / Arab America Contributing Writer
On August 5th, 2021, Lebanese-Sammarinese-American Myles Amine ended his Tokyo Olympic run with pride, returning home having secured a bronze medal. Amine qualified for the Olympics by placing fifth at the last World Championships in 2019. As well as being the three-time third-place finisher at the NCAA Championships, he is also the first-ever wrestler representing San Marino to qualify for the Olympics and just the third Olympic medalist for San Marino in any sport. He is also the first Olympic wrestling medalist in freestyle wrestling for the University of Michigan. Following a dominant win in the first round, he lost his quarterfinal match to the eventual gold medalist but bounced back to defeat Belarus’ Ali Shabanau, a four-time world bronze medalist.
In the bronze medal match against India’s Deepak, the 2019 runner-up at the World Championships, Amine was trailing by 2-1 at the midpoint. He gave up the first takedown but managed to score a step-out before the first period’s end. With less than 10 seconds remaining, Amine scored a takedown off a single leg to take a 3-2 lead. Deepak attempted a challenge from his corner but failed, making it a 4-2 final score in Amine’s favor.
Amine’s incredible accomplishments at the Olympics are matched only by his story, and that of his family. The words ‘wrestling’ and ‘Amine’ are no strangers – they go back hand-in-hand for almost 80 years. Speaking to Arab America, Mike Amine, the father of Myles, tells the family story.
Nazem Amine: Lebanon’s Wrestler
Born in 1927 in Haouch El-Omara, a suburb in the Lebanese city of Zahle, Nazem Amine, one of nine children, took up wrestling at the age of 16.
Mike Amine tells Arab America that he was able to qualify for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. He also qualified for the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, but Lebanon boycotted the games in protest of British and French involvement in the Suez Crisis – the Israeli-French-British invasion of Egypt. Where he did best was the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome where he wrestled lightweight in the Greco-Roman competition, ending 13th out of 65 in his weight class.
At the time he was 33 years old with five children. When the 1967 war broke out, Nazem left Lebanon and his world behind, taking his family and moving to Detroit, Michigan. He worked tirelessly as a butcher and later as a baggage handler and driver for Spirit Airlines at age 77 until his death at age 90 on July 16th, 2017.
The Second Generation:
Nazem’s son, Mike Amine picked up wrestling at the age of 10. He and his brother Sam earned scholarships to the University of Michigan for wrestling. Mike was a Division 1 NCAA finalist, finishing number 2 in the country, as well as an Olympic alternate alongside his brother Sam in 1992. Mike decided to retire that year.
The most interesting about this is that Mike never knew his father was a wrestler until he has started wrestling himself. “I really never knew my dad was wrestling until we picked up the sport. My dad was really a humble guy and he took his medals and he’d put them away and he never displayed anything” Mike tells Arab America.
A New Generation of Wrestling:
Mike turned his attention to coaching his sons’ wrestling club program. His sons Myles and Malik both picked up wrestling at 10 as well, according to Mike.
Both Myles and Malik were some of the best high school wrestlers in the country; both very accomplished and highly sought after coming out of high school, having won multiple state titles during their school careers at Detroit Catholic Central. Both Myles and Malik accepted scholarships to the University of Michigan. Fast forward to university – Malik becomes a two-time NCA qualifier in All-Big-10 Selection and Myles becomes a four-time All American. Mike tells Arab America that Myles is just the seventh person ever to accomplish this.
Myles and Malik as brothers, competing together, training together, being both comrades and rivals is a large factor in their success. Myles would not be where he is today, and would not have qualified for the Olympics without Malik, as Mike Amine tells Arab America:
“Myles is where he’s at because of his brother. We’re big believers in our family…and so Malik is a big part of this journey. Even though he did not accomplish his dream, Myles will help Malik accomplish his dream because Malik has helped Myles accomplish his dream….Those guys together are better, they’re better together”. Even today, with a wrestling room in the house, they still choose to wrestle on the carpet at the family home after so many years. Their bond and love for the sport are strong and true.
San Marino – The Tiny Country Enclaved by Italy:
Either you had never heard of San Marino before or you just found out about it because of Myles Amine. It is no coincidence that over the last 12 months, San Marino saw was most searched on Google during the last week of July. San Marino is a microstate, roughly 24-square-miles enclaved by Italy. Though you may not have heard of it, San Marino is one of the oldest republics in the world. Why is San Marino so important for this story? Myles represented San Marino at the Tokyo Olympics, serving as one of two official flag bearers, in both the opening and closing ceremonies. Both Myles and Malik have also represented San Marino in many international competitions over the years. Of course, one needs to be a citizen of a country to officially represent it, which they are, thanks to their mother’s grandfather, who came to the U.S in the early 1990s.
Both of them have brought immense pride to San Marino through their athletic accomplishments. As stated before, Myles is the first-ever wrestler representing San Marino to qualify for the Olympics, and just the third ever Olympic medalist for San Marino in any sport. Myles was also recognized in 2019 as the Olympic athlete of the year for San Marino. The family is currently planning a trip to San Marino for a meeting with the President.
This will not be the last that you hear of wrestling from San Marino, of course. Today, Mike Amine tells Arab America that the current plan is to really bring wrestling to San Marino through a dedicated wrestling program and to have it led by both Myles and Malik.
This is an almost 80-year story that has its roots in Lebanon with Nazem Amine, and this legacy and dedication to the sport of wrestling have not gone unnoticed. According to Mike Amine, the Amine family was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for a lifetime service award in 2016. With yet to be enacted plans by the Amines for wrestling, there are no signs that this lifetime of service has any end in sight.
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