One is a champion wrestler, about to battle for Olympic gold in London; the other is one of Canada’s top young entrepreneurs.
The professional lives of Arjan Bhullar and Amit Sandhu couldn’t be further apart if they tried.
Skip the first line on their resumes, however, and the worlds of Commonwealth gold medal winner Bhullar — the first Canadian South Asian to qualify for freestyle wrestling in the Olympics — and developer/investor Sandhu run almost in symmetry.
Both are successful 27 year olds; both grew up close to each other in Richmond’s South Asian community; both attended and graduated from SFU and both believe strongly in giving back to their community.
It’s that striking resemblance that spurred Ampri Group CEO Sandhu into pulling the world of his mirror image even closer by officially sponsoring Bhullar’s Olympic dream.
“We knew each others cousins when growing up and knew each other from the hallways at SFU,” said Sandhu.
“I want to make sure there is community benefit from our successes and I can do that by supporting leaders and people making an impact on the community.
“What Arjan represents is very much in line with what we believe in and that resonates with us. When we put our brand behind someone, we have to believe in that person.”
With the financial backing of Ampri, Bhullar can now prepare properly for London, with warm-up tournaments and training in Poland, Germany, Toronto and the U.S. over the next few weeks.
“The majority of my sponsorship has come from the Indo-Canadian community and I’m proud of that,” said Bhullar.
“Although some other people have come forward, nothing like Ampri has done anything on this level. Before the Olympics, I’m now able to go to places I couldn’t have done, all just to try and get that edge, the edge you need to win.
“This will all now be possible and will help me become a full time wrestler and focus on just that and nothing else.”
Bhullar cited the fact that Sandhu’s family has been a powerhouse in the business world all his life, while his were leaders in the local sporting world and wondered why their paths had never properly crossed until last week.
“I guess he has always been busy doing his thing and me doing mine,” said Bhullar.
“But now we have come together in our journey and will try to unite for the good of each other and the community.”
Indeed, Sandhu only heard about Bhullar’s sponsorship drive — which culminates in a grand event in Surrey on June 22 — by chance a couple of weeks ago.
It was then that the developer realized the time was right to step up and support the wrestling star.
“I got in touch with Arjan’s brother, who is leading the campaign for sponsorship, as I know there are lots of costs associated with training for the Olympics,” said Sandhu.
“When I found out he needed some support I knew that I wanted to help straight away. I guess it was just something that was meant to be, with us both growing up in Richmond and going to SFU.”
Sandhu’s not sure if its the fact the two families and friends come from India or that they grew up in Richmond, but the one definitive common denominator is that they “both strive for excellence and both want to be good role models for youth.”
“I do follow (wrestling) a little, especially when the Olympics are on and I followed Arjan’s journey to Commonwealth gold; he is already a huge role model for Canadian youth.”
It’s people like Bhullar that inspires Sandhu — recently recognized by Profit Magazine’s FuEL Awards as one of the Top 20 Entrepreneurs Under 30 in Canada — to continue to give back to his local community.
He ensures his organization is a community steward by being involved in a variety of charitable organizations, and established the ‘Dream, Grow, Inspire’ scholarship program, which supports several Richmond high schools.
In addition, Sandhu is the program chair for the TiE Young Entrepreneurs (TYE) Program for Metro Program, where he and fellow entrepreneurs inspire high school students to become the next generation of business and community leaders.
“Everyday is different for me,” added Sandhu.
“I’m fortunate enough to pursue my passions through my business, getting up every day and know that you have an impact on people’s lives makes me feel proud to be part of the system.
“Unexplained opportunities come up everyday like this (sponsorship) one.”
As for the London Olympics itself, Bhullar — a spokesperson for the federally and provincially funded “Violence Against Women” campaign and a member of the national program “The Esteem Team,” which motivates children to achieve their goals — is optimistic and is aiming for nothing but the best.
“I have a few weeks left to achieve this aspect of my dream, and I think it is well within my reach,” he said.
Bhullar is hosting a thank you sponsorship banquet on June 22, featuring past Olympians, members of the sporting community and politicians.
Anyone wanting to attend or sponsor Bhullar should contact Jora Bhullar at 604 338 0753.