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The former Olympic wrestler who helped transform Burnage Academy

Mo Osman is not only an Olympic wrestler, he's an amazing teacher, too

In the busy corridors of Burnage Academy for Boys, there’s one figure who stands out not just for his impressive physical presence, but for his dedication to helping wayward students.

Mo Osman, the school’s Pastoral Support Mentor and an Olympic wrestler has become an irreplaceable part of the school’s fabric.

Recently honoured with the Pearson Silver Award for being an Unsung Hero, Mo’s impact extends far beyond the classroom, as he uses his unique background to connect with students and inspire them to achieve their best.

Mo Osman’s wrestling life lessons

Mo Osman’s journey to becoming a top figure at Burnage Academy is as compelling as it is inspiring.

Born and raised Iran as a Kurdish Iranian, Mo discovered wrestling at a young age, finding solace and structure in the sport.

“Wrestling taught me discipline, resilience, and the importance of setting goals,” he says.

These lessons became the cornerstone of his philosophy, one that he now imparts to the young minds at Burnage Academy.

When Mo joined Burnage Academy, the school was facing a significant challenge: connecting with students who were disengaged and struggling academically.

“If any student is struggling or makes a mistake, myself and the team are not there to sanction them; we’re there to educate them, always giving them a chance,” said Mo.

Recognising the potential of sports as a powerful engagement tool, Mo proposed the idea of starting a wrestling club.

The administration, eager to explore new avenues for student engagement, gave him their full support.

Burnage Community Wrestling Club

And so, the Burnage Community Wrestling Club was born.

What started as a small group of curious students has now flourished into a thriving community, with participants from all grades eagerly attending sessions. “It’s not just about the sport,” Mo explains. ”

“Wrestling is a metaphor for life. It teaches you how to handle pressure, how to strategise, and most importantly, how to get back up when you’re knocked down.”

Mo’s coaching style is a blend of rigour and empathy. On the mats, he’s a demanding coach, pushing his students to their limits and beyond. Off the mats, he’s a mentor, a confidant, and a friend.

His genuine interest in the student’s well-being is palpable. “I want them to know that someone believes in them,” he says. “Many of these kids come from tough backgrounds.

“Sometimes, all they need is a little push and a lot of belief.”

British Wrestling Coach of the Year

Mo’s influence extends beyond the school gates. His work with the Burnage Community Wrestling Club has garnered national attention, earning him the title of British Wrestling Coach of the Year.

The club has become a centre of the community, a safe space for young people to grow, both physically and mentally.

The principles of wrestling are deeply embedded in Mo’s mentoring philosophy.

“Wrestling is about facing your fears,” he says. “It’s you against your opponent, but more importantly, it’s you against yourself.

“The biggest battles are always internal. I teach my students that if they can overcome their own doubts and fears on the mat, they can overcome anything in life.

“My experience coming from a war zone taught me to be kind, resilient, and to seek help when needed. No one is perfect, and asking for help is okay. In school in this country, if anyone needs anything, the support is there. For example, when I came here, I had to learn a different language and culture, but the team behind me supported me, which was fantastic.”

Mo’s approach is holistic. He understands that academic success and personal development are intertwined. His sessions often begin with discussions on goal setting, time management, and the importance of education. “Wrestling is a tool,” he explains.

“Through it, I can teach them about life. When they see progress in their wrestling, it builds their confidence.

“I think this experience from my wrestling background, being part of the national GB team for 12 years representing England in the Commonwealth Games and World Championships, has been invaluable.

“At the moment, I’m a national coach with GB under-20s.

“Every day, I see kids who need help, who need the right people around them to show them the right direction.

“For example, we had a student from Year Seven who left two years ago due to family issues. Everything was dark for him. During COVID, my team and I engaged with him, provided school resources for his GCSEs.

“Despite his initial anger and conflicts, he managed to come out with top GCSE grades. This achievement isn’t just mine; it’s the students’ and the staff’s. I’m grateful for their support.”

That confidence spills over into their studies and their personal lives.

The impact of Mo’s work is evident in the school’s performance metrics. Attendance rates have improved, behavioural incidents have decreased, and there’s a renewed sense of school pride. Many students credit their turnaround to Mo’s influence.

In recognition of his extraordinary contributions, Mo Osman was awarded the Silver Award for Unsung Hero.

But for Mo, the greatest reward is the success and happiness of his students. “Awards are nice,” he says with a modest smile, “but seeing a kid turn their life around, that’s priceless.”

Mo Osman’s journey from Olympic wrestler to pastoral mentor is a testament to the power of sports as a transformative force.

Through wrestling, he teaches his students invaluable life lessons, helping them navigate challenges both on and off the mat.

You can find out more about Burnage Community Wrestling Club by clicking here

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