Follow by Email

Saturday, 25 April 2015

It's here!!!!!!!!

Buried in the Maple Leaves:The Untold Story of North American Wrestling Legend Harry Geris

by Shawn Geris

Sports have offered us countless heroes to look up to. Olympians and professional athletes in particular from long ago to present day have made their marks on history and the people's consciousness in such a way that they have, in many cases, pushed us to think differently as a society. The pity is that so many unsung heroes slip through the cracks. Men and women who have stories of trial and triumph, heartache and jubilation, and who have conquered obstacles that few would dare to take on are lost, and the legends that they carry never come into the spotlight to inspire and encourage. Harry Geris is one of those unsung heroes.

As a child, Harry Geris migrated with his family from the Netherlands to Canada. The young Geris struggled through school as he slowly learned a language that was foreign to him. In high school the gangly Geris that was a mess of lengthy arms and legs discovered wrestling, but he was hardly a natural. That did not stop him, however. Geris had found his passion, and from that point forward, he dedicated his life to it.

From working extra hours at a grocery store to pay for gym memberships to hitchhiking across his country's border for wrestling try-outs to running away from home so he could go to college to wrestle, Harry Geris displayed a love and dedication for his sport like few ever have. More than that though, Geris had character. It was that character that shined throughout his journey, which carried a callow, naive Dutch boy who had never stepped foot on a wrestling mat to three Olympic games. It was not only that Geris became an Olympian that is so intriguing, but how he became an Olympian and the adventures he had along the way. This book walks you through an amazing, and amazingly humble, man's journey.

Now available through Tate Publishing.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

His last day.

I remember my 16 month old daughter gripping his giant “pinky” ever-so tightly as they walked together down the sidewalk. Her little hand could barely wrap around his colossal digit, but she held on to it ever so tightly. As they walk along Dad would slow his pace, so that his little princess could catch up. His 6’4” frame cast a shadow on the sidewalk beside her; the contrast in size between the pair was almost comical. Dad hunched over her lending his hand to the little one next to him, providing the comfort she needed to continue walking. I saw her gaze up at the Giant with an ear to ear grin as she held his hand and continued to walking, she was there with Grandpa, her world was just perfect. They continued to walk down the sidewalk together at a snails pace, but neither of them complained. Dad’s smile was so big; I imagined that it was the shear weight of his grin that was slowing him down.

When they finally arrived at the park Dad picked up his princess and placed her in the swing, a magical swing that only a princess could ride. As Dad pushed the swing, his princess’ smile grew, and he started to glow. When his princess grew tired of the swinging, she asked Grandpa to take her to the orange, cave like, slide high up at the top of the park. She wanted so badly to glide down the long slide; however she refused to go alone. She tugged at Dad’s pinky and motioned towards the orange beast. Dad knew that his princess needed him, so he climbed up the stairs leading to the slide and took hold of his little prize. He sat her on his lap and positioned himself for the ride. His large frame could barely squeeze through the round opening of the orange cave, however he pushed and pushed. The image of grandpa squeezing through the tube, reminded me of the story of Winnie the Pooh trying to squeeze his body through an opening in a tree only to get stuck, I had to chuckle. Dad pushed and squeezed, and he might have even held his breath for a few seconds, but he did it and down the slide they went! His princess held on tight as they passed through every bend and curve and at the end of the slide I could see matching smiles.

The weather got colder and Dad’s little princess started to shiver. The giant picked up his little prize, held her tight to his body to shield her from the chill and started to walk back the way we had came. The princess didn’t complain about leaving the park, she was smiling up high in her Grandpa’s arms. As he carried her down the sidewalk, you could see a bright glow on his face, he was enjoying their moment. As they walked along the sidewalk his princess pressed her lips up against his cheek, without prompting, she kissed him. I imagined that his heart grew about ten times in size at that moment.

That was the last time she kissed her Grandpa.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Harry Geris tied for 7th place at 1972 Munich Olympics

Wrestling Free Style under 100kg Olympic Games Munich 1972

4. Vassil TodorovBUL10 0.524
14.Gerd BachmannGDR34
1. Ivan YaryginURS0 0:270 2:110 2:200 2:580 1:47
10.Bruno JutzelerSUI40 4:204
16.Shizuo YadaJPN44
7. Harry GerrisCAN0 1:2434
5. Enache PanaitROM0 5:0810 4:7244
16.Robert NdiayeSEN44
6. Abolfazel AnvariIRN10 2:0944
14.Karel EngelTCH34
2. Khorloo BaianmunkhMGL10 1:320 2:040 4:27
7. Alfons HecherFRG313
12.Henk SchenkUSA33
3. József CsatáriHUN10 8:2810 8:56
7. Ryszard DlugoszPOL142
13.Julio TamussinITA33.5
11.Alaattin YildirimTUR4

1. Ivan YaryginURS500 5:210 2:04
2. Khorloo BaianmunkhMGL5114
3. József CsatáriHUN5234
4. Vassil TodorovBUL57
5. Enache PanaitROM59
6. Abolfazel AnvariIRN49
7. Alfons HecherFRG37
7. Harry GerrisCAN37
7. Ryszard DlugoszPOL37
10.Bruno JutzelerSUI38
11.Alaattin YildirimTUR24
12.Henk SchenkUSA26
13.Julio TamussinITA26.5
14.Gerd BachmannGDR27
14.Karel EngelTCH27
16.Shizuo YadaJPN28
16.Robert NdiayeSEN28

Prepared and maintained by Todor Krastev

Above is the 1972 Olympic Wrestling Team

1972 MUNICH Olympic wrestling Team
52 kgGord BertieMontreal
57 kgEgon BeilerKitchener/Waterloo
62 kgPatrick BolgerKitchener/Waterloo
68 kgRon OuelletteUSA (Montreal born)
74 kgAlfred WurrWinnipeg
82 kgTaras HrybVancouver
90 kgGeorge SaundersThunder Bay
100 kgHarry GerisLondon
CoachKurt BoeseKitchener/Waterloo
ManagerBarry NyeMontreal
68 kgOle SorensonEdmonton
CoachKurt BoeseKitchener/Waterloo

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Henry Pillard (Joliet Jr. College Wrestling Coach 63-68) talks about Harry Geris and the 1972 NCAA Championships

Henry "Hank" Pillard has been a resident of Joliet since 1965 and in that time he has established himself as one of the community's most valuable assets, as well as a major force in the world of wrestling.
Henry became Dean of Students at Joliet Junior College (JJC) in 1967 and held that position for 20 years. Concurrent with being the Dean of Students, Henry was also the JJC wrestling coach (1965-1985) as well as the football and track coach (1965-1967).

"The one thing that Henry instilled in everyone he coached was Never Give Up -- and Be the Best You Can Be."
-- Bill Vail,
Olympic Wrestling Coach

Wrestling Accolades
As JJC wrestling coach, his teams recorded 268 wins, 43 losses, and 5 ties. He produced 46 All-Americans and eight National Champions! His wrestling career has earned him many awards and acknowledgment's, some of which are listed below. For a complete list of accomplishments, please read the list to the right.

In 1984, Henry received the 25 Year Service Award from the National Wrestling Coaches Association. In 1986, he was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame. In 1998, he received the prestigious USA Wrestling Service Award. In 2002, Henry was presented with a Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
During his wrestling career, Henry has also provided his services to the USA National and Olympic Teams.
Joliet Chargers Coach
Henry also was the coach of the Joliet Chargers, a semi-professional football team during the 1972-1973 season.

Henry lives in Joliet with his wife Pat and is still very actively involved in the Joliet community.


- 2002 / National Wrestling Hall of Fame - Presented Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award
- 1999 / Service to Community Award - University of Dubuque Alumni Association
- 1997 / Grand Marshall - Illinois State High School Wrestling Championships
- 1993 / Community Service Award
1991 / Alumni Hall of Fame
1990 / Athletic Hall of Fame - only person to be awarded these three top honors presented by Joliet Junior College
- 1990 / Christian Youth Center Staff Award
- 1988 / USA Wrestling Service Award
- 1986 / Illinois Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame
- 1984 / National Wrestling Coaches Association 25 Year Service Award
- 1982 / AAU Certificate - for promoting the Olympics
- 1981 / U.S. Congressional Record - 97th Congress - for the benefit of young athletes from all over the world.
- 1975 & 1978 / Illinois Junior College Coach of the Year
- 1971 - 1974 / V.P., Mayor Daley's Wrestling Club, Chicago
- 1970-1971 / President, National Junior College Coaches Assoc.
- 1968 & 1972 / Olympic Trials Coach - Junior College Qualifiers
- 1968-1969 / Team Manager, National Freestyle Greco-Roman Team Champions for the Chicago Mayor Daley wrestling program

- 1968 / United States Patent

- 1996-Present / Joliet Area Historical Society - Vice President & Board Member
- 1987-Present / Crime Stoppers of Will County - Board Member, Former President
- 1994-1998 / Christian Youth Center, VP & Board Member
- 1992-1996 / Joliet Christian School - Development Committee & Board Member
- 1996 / Atlanta Summer Olympics/Athletes Village - Sports Information for Wrestling
- 1995 / Atlanta's Olympic Test Event - Mayor for World Championship Wrestling
- 1984-1993 / Ms. National Senior Citizens Pageant - President & Board Member
- 1986 / World Cup Wrestling Championship - Director
- 1985-1986 / Clean Community Systems Council - Board Member
- 1983 / Mexico City, National Jr. Pan Am Wrestling Tournament Coach
- 1971-1981 / George Werden Buck Boys Club - Founder of Kids Wrestling in Joliet area
- 1978-1982 / Joliet International Wrestling Tournament - Director of World's Largest International Wrestling Tournament
- 1978 / National Junior Wrestling Team to Iran - USA's Coach
- 1978-1982 / National Integrated Wrestling Clinics - Director

- 1968 / United States Patent

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Royalty and Wrestling

A couple of months ago my brother told me a story about my dad wrestling at the British Empire Games.  My father told Ryan about one of his matches where he wrestled in front of royalty.  I will include the story in my book, so I won’t go into detail now.  Much of the stories that I receive from various sources are double checked and researched to substantiate the story through interviews, internet records and sometimes photographs.   I acquired the picture below through one of my father’s teammates, Peter Michienzi, it corroborates my brother’s story, it is of Princess Ann, a young Prince Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh sitting mat-side watching my father wrestling his bronze medal match at the British Empire Games.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Coach Henry Pillard: A Pillard of the Wrestling Community

I was lucky enough to have my father’s former junior college wrestling coach, Henry Pillard, as my tour guide while I was down in Joliet, Illinois on a fact finding mission.  Pillard coached my father in 1968 while he attended Joliet Junior College and can be credited with assisting my father in winning the 1968 NJCCA Championships.  Coach Pillard is a natural storyteller, someone who I have had numerous lengthy conversations with about my father’s history.  He has unlocked many stories of my father’s past, giving me a new perspective of my father as an athlete and a young man.
While I was in Illinois he had me stay at his residence as guest of his family, it was the same hospitality he show my father back in 1966 when they both met for the first time.  The fact finding mission started off as soon as Coach Pillard picked me up from the Chicago International Airport; we headed straight for the new campus of Joliet Junior College to speak with the school’s Director of Communications and External Relations, Kelly Rohder and the Alumni Relations Manager, Amanda M. Quinn. 
Then we travelled to the original Joliet Junior College campus located in the heart of Joliet.  The school is currently being used as the home of Joliet Township High School.  We toured the ancient building visiting the old wrestling room, the gymnasium where many of dad’s wrestling triumphs occurred and the locker room where Coach Pillard would give his pep-talks.  As we walked the halls Coach Pillard gave a great narration of stories from the past, describing the crowds and the atmosphere from 1968. 
We went to the Joliet Library and searched through the microfiche for old articles from the time dad wrestled at Joliet Junior College and hit a GOLD MINE!!!  I was able to recover thirty-two newspaper clippings that mentioned my dad’s wrestling adventures from his time at the junior college.
The next day we headed to the old neighbourhood where dad lived, the area where the grocery store he worked at was (it was burnt down during the Martin Luther King riots - a great story for the book) and visited with the old athletic director from 1968 who remembered dad very well.
The last day we drove to La Grange, Illinois for the Curby Cup, a dual meet with the US Olympic Team and the Georgian Olympic Wrestling Team.  The meet took place at the same venue where Coach Pillard and my father first met (another great story for the book). 
The time that my father spent in Joliet was a pivotal point in his wrestling career.  It is common knowledge that my father won the Junior National Championships his first year at Joliet Junior College, however the story of how he got to attend the American College is much more intriguing.  Thanks to Coach Henry Pillard I have the story for you, but you’ll have to wait for the book.   
 Joliet Junior College
House where dad lived

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

13 Wortley Road, London, Ontario

I recently traveled back to London, Ontario to visit the house my father and his family grew up in.  The house was built in 1881, however the Geris Clan moved there sometime in the 50's.  I remember the house well and have fond memories of my grandparents and their numerous pets (a couple cats and a big German Sheppard).  I received a tour of the building from the current owner, an elderly gentleman, and was pleased to see the interior of the familiar structure.  Not a lot had been changed, just the coloring of the walls (Bright: red, yellow and blue).  The new owner has eighty-seven cats living with him and believes that the cats like the bright colors. 

The elderly gentleman rents out the rooms out to struggling youth.  The youth are not required to pay rent, instead they must look after the elderly gentleman's eighty-seven cats.