The Making of a Champ

Concordia Wrestler Looks to Compete Internationally Thanks to Crowdfunding Website

  • Concordia wrestler Dima Gershanov is using crowdfunding website MAKEACHAMP to pay for his trips to Europe in order to participate in wrestling tournaments. Courtesy Dima Gershanov

  • Members of MAKEACHAMP pose with members of the Cégep André-Laurendeau Boomerang volleyball team, a team that uses the website. Courtesy Heri Rakotomalala

Dmytriy “Dima” Gershanov had his eyes on the prize from the beginning. Born in Ukraine before moving to Israel, he took up the sport at the age of nine after seeing one of his friends compete.

“A friend of mine came to the school with a medal once, so I asked him where he got it,” Gershanov said. “He won it at a competition so I wanted to check it out.

“I was not really taking it seriously—there was actually no point for a 9-year-old kid to take something that seriously,” he continued. “It was more to keep me out of the streets and be involved in sports.”

Years later, after competing in a number of youth competitions representing Israel, and even a stint at the University of Nebraska before coming to Concordia, Gershanov placed third at the 2015 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Wrestling Championships in Edmonton, competing in the 72 kg division.

Throughout his journey, the second-year biology student and Stingers wrestler has aspired to compete in international tournaments, but Gershanov needs a financial push to pursue his dreams.

As a result, the wrestler has taken to a crowdfunding site for athletes to receive funding.

MAKEACHAMP is a Montreal-based website that began in 2012, calling itself a “global leader in crowdfunding for sports.” The organization helps athletes overcome obstacles unrelated to their sport and level the playing field by removing hurdles such as financing, while also providing marketing support for athletic talent.

The crowdfunding site was founded by Montrealers David Ancor and Michael Shpigelman, after the duo didn’t have enough money to participate in international judo competitions with Team Canada. Shpigelman came up with the idea of a crowdfunding campaign to send Ancor to a competition in South America, and soon enough every member of Team Canada’s judo team was using crowdfunding.

The company continues to grow, being used in 36 countries for more than 90 different sports by over 10,000 athletes. Teams have used the site to receive thousands in funds for their equipment and travel costs. Other Quebec universities, such as McGill, UdeM, UQAM and Université Laval have also worked with the website.

“Behind each campaign, there’s an athlete and a human story. – Heri Rakotomalala, the marketing advisor of MAKEACHAMP.

As of this article Gershanov has raised $310, $690 short of his $1000 goal listed on his MAKEACHAMP page. The wrestler hopes to receive enough funding to perform at five tournaments in Greece, Italy, Spain, Poland and Azerbaijan, where he would represent Israel this summer.

“There is no difference for me what country and what kind of tournament it is,” he explained. “They’re all equally important for me. I’m trying to get as much experience as I can from wrestling with different types of opponents from overseas.”

Gershanov’s MAKEACHAMP page lists rewards for donors, including a shoutout on Facebook or Twitter for $10, a reward of a shoutout on his social media sites and blog for $50 donations, and a thank-you gift for $70 donations.

“Behind each campaign, there’s an athlete and a human story,” said Heri Rakotomalala, the marketing advisor of MAKEACHAMP. “Dima registered, and as with many other athletes, we empathized and decided to help him as best we can.”

MAKEACHAMP regularly advises Gershanov on what’s best for him, from the write-up on his project’s page to his budget and how to promote himself.

“It’s also important to find those who can do the first shares on social media or the first contributions,” Rakotomalala added.

Gershanov isn’t the only Concordia athlete that has used the website to fund his passion. Former student and former judoka Sasha Mehmedovic raised $2500 through MAKEACHAMP to compete at a grand prix event in Germany. Another former Concordia student, Matthew Miller, has used the crowd-funding site in the hopes of competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Rakotomalala wants to get more Concordia athletes involved with MAKEACHAMP, if only to help fuel their success.

“Team campaigns can be very successful and motivating for the team,” he said.

To donate to Gershanov’s page, visit http://makeachamp.com/dger

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