RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (WHDH) - Haiti’s only wrestler is gearing up for his Olympic debut on Friday.

Asnage Castelly is originally from Haiti, but now lives in Springfield.

It has been a dream of his to get to the Olympics.

To top it all off, he had the distinct honor of carrying the flag for Haiti at the Opening Ceremonies.

Castelly breaks barriers in every way possible.

He is the first athlete to ever represent Haiti in Wrestling and he is in Rio de Janeiro not only to compete but to inspire a nation on and off the mat.

Whatever comes his way, Castelly won’t Let life pin him down.

The 38-year-old is the first athlete ever to wrestle for Haiti.

Haiti has not seen an Olympic medal in any sport since 1928.

Castelly knows how much is on the line during the match itself, but his dream is to inspire Haitians and be a true ambassador for his home nation.

“When people think of Haiti, they think of the disaster,” he said.

It was a three-year process filled with letters and phone calls to even convince Haiti to let him represent them in wrestling.

Castelly spent his childhood on a farm in the country, living in a mud house.

He arrived in the United States when he was 9 years old and moved to New Jersey.

It was not an easy transition, with classmates bullying him for only being able to speak French.

After watching the Olympics on TV, he got involved in wrestling, a welcome escape during trying times.

He moved to Massachusetts to wrestle and study at a college in Springfield, not only becoming the first in his family to graduate from college, but going on to earn
graduate degrees in criminology and theology.

Castelly would later serve a year in Iraq with the US Army as a Muslim chaplain.

Castelly and his coaches wear many hats, taking care of everything on and off the mat without a federation’s financial and logistical support.

He said he knows when he gets on the mat, he won’t be by myself.

After the Olympics, he eventually wants to move back to Haiti and open a wrestling school.

It would be the country’s first.

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