It’s a long way from Mendota to Rotterdam in The Netherlands.
Mendota Police Sergeant Gerardo Galaviz made the trip last month, and it wasn’t a sightseeing excursion.
The 36-year old represented his department and his country in the World Police and Fire Games. The games bring out first responders from all over the world to compete in various individual and team sports.
And he came home with a two Gold Medals in Freestyle and Greco wrestling.
“I am just blown away,” said his boss, Mendota Police Chief Kevin Smith. “I knew Sergeant Galaviz would receive some kinds of award, but seriously, No. 1 in a world competition?”
Galaviz is a native of Reedley and wrestled at Reedley High. He went on to compete at Fresno City before an injury curtailed his college career. He has been with the Mendota PD for almost three years.
Since then, he has still remained in good physical shape, and still enjoys the sport.
“With me it’s family, working and competing,” he explained.
It was during Jujitsu matches at the United States Police Games in San Diego when he got the idea of heading to Rotterdam and the World Games.
“I talked to the chief about it and he said, ‘let’s get it going.’”
The City of Mendota Community Corporation and the Mendota Police Association came together with financial support and holding fund-raisers to raise money for the trip.
“They really supported me,” said Galaviz. “It was overwhelming.”
Besides the fact that he had no experience on the world stage, Galaviz hadn’t wrestled in 15 years.
He wrestled in the 70 kilo (154 lbs.) in Freestyle and 72 kilo (158 lbs.) in Greco.
In both classes, he ended up in the finals against wrestlers from France, and that’s when things got dicey for the sergeant.
“When I won Greco, my opponent was pretty mad,” he explained. “Then in the freestyle, the chairman of the event was also from France so I had a feeling I was going to get cheated.”
During the final of freestyle, he had points deducted, which ramped up the pressure. With 10 seconds left in the final period, he was down 5-4, but managed a late reversal to win the match and the Gold, 6-5.
So his week in The Netherlands was memorable to say the least. He is now hoping to head down to Mexico soon with three fellow officers for another round of police games.