Nick Ugoalah’s life is a testament to the power of positive thinking and human potential. He was born in Ihie (EE-Hay), a small village in the eastern part of Nigeria Africa. Arriving in Canada at 9 years of age, without his mother, life was not easy. He and his siblings had a difficult time with their father, until he and they were removed from the home.
Placed in foster care, Nick struggled. Then he found the right family, the McLellans. Fuelled by their love and encouragement, he soon became an all around student-athlete, excelling in football, track and field, wrestling and soccer.
Encouraged to attend Brock university, he studied biological sciences. Nick also tried out for the varsity wrestling team in his first year but failed to make the cut. Disappointment taught him an important life lesson. “It’s not enough to just be talented, you’ve got to want it, work hard, but most of all you’ve got to be hungry.”
Nick made a bold promise to legendary Brock University wrestling coach Richard Deschatelets, that he would make the team and become National champion. “If you have a dream, then anything is possible.” Says Nick. Immediately after that promise, Nick went on a “vision quest” to learn what it would take to succeed in wrestling. Then he committed to changing his diet, training twice a day, getting help from the coach, refining his technique, visualizing, and competing against the best in the country. The next year, he made the team and became National Champion. He would go on to win the national title three times.
After Nick graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree, he followed his dream of wrestling for Canada. Wearing the red and white, he was a 5-time world team member, Olympic trials champion in 2000 and 2004. The highlight of his career came in 2002 at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England. Nick was in the finals against India. The match went into overtime. With the pressure on and the sport being televised Internationally, he threw his opponent to his back, pinning him taking the gold.
In 1998, with all his success, something was missing. He wanted to find the mother he hadn’t seen in 17 years. Nick decided to use his modest savings and return to Nigeria. Knowing only a few facts about the village of his birth (Ihie), speaking little of his traditional language Igbo, he went ahead and bought a ticket to the old capital Lagos. When the plane landed, he didn’t know where to go next, but had faith he would be guided. Nick faced corrupt cabdrivers, witnessed extreme poverty, feared for his safety, and wondered if he would ever hold his mother again.
When Nick finally found his mother, he knew he was home. “When you truly want something, you just have to believe.” Said Nick who now shares his story and it’s lessons with corporate audiences. “My mission is to help people to define their goals, discover courage, take action, and to overcome adversity.”
Nick speaks not only to organizations and CEO groups but also to schools, youth jails, and non-profit organizations. “I’m amazed what happens when people get inspired, set goals and blast towards them with focus and determination.”
Nick was instrumental in creating a bursary that now sends countless youth in foster care to University and summer camps. He also joined with Children’s Aid Society of Canada in an Ontario wide public service announcement, lending his credentials, as testimony to the potential of youth and children in care. “We all have a responsibility to give something back, I am who I am because of the relationships I have developed, because of the people who have enriched my life,”
In 2008, Nick was invited back to Ihie, the village of his birth, for his coronation as Chief “Ikuku”. Ikuku means air, as in air gives life.
In 2009, Nick was inducted into the Brock University Sports Hall of Fame. In 2011, Nick along with 4 other renowned Canadians (including entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson, actress Andrea Martin, actress Debra McGrath, comedian Colin Mochrie, and choreographer/dancer Tré Armstrong.) were honoured as Inspirational Canadians at the Spark Ignite event, held in Toronto. In the same year, Nick was also awarded the prestigious African Canadian Achievement Award of excellence for his contributions to sport and the community.
“My goal was not to win awards, but rather to inspire people to pursue their own goals.” He conducts high performance motivational training sessions not only for CEO’s and Olympic athletes but also for at risk youth and… at risk adults.
Nick Ugoalah’s straight-from-the-heart, high-energy, humorous, passionate message motivates and engages all audiences to step into their greatness, providing them with the motivation to take the next step toward living their dream.
Nick is a high performance coach and business strategist, a Commonwealth games gold medalist, who holds a BSc, MBA, and a graduate degree in Executive Coaching. He works with CEO’s, leadership teams, Olympians and world champions to take their performance to the next level. He is also the author of “Whatever It Takes! How to Face change, overcome obstacles, and make your life extraordinary!
To schedule a keynote address or workshop tailored to your organization, call 604.787.2608 for fees and available dates.