Don Marrin was lauded for his fairness, his extensive knowledge of the rules of wrestling and his ability to apply impartial judgement to the sport he loved. Those attributes made Marrin a trusted presence on the mat as he presided over some of the most elite matches in the sport – nationally and internationally.
Marrin, born in Windsor in 1958, qualified as a FILA (Federation Internationale de Lutte Amateur) official in 1977 and plied his trade for 20 years. From 1988-1996, Marrin qualified as FILA Exceptionnel, which stands as the highest international rating for wrestling officials. He refereed 27 international competitions, which included the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela (freestyle and Greco-Roman) and the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia (freestyle). The pinnacle, however, came when he was 35 and he was tapped to work the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. For Marrin, it helped validate a career dedicated to his craft.
Before Marrin became known as an excellent wrestling official internationally, he refereed many of the key wrestling events domestically – including 14 CIAU (now U-Sports) championships, 15 Senior National Championships and 16 Junior National Championships. Marrin was also one of the referees whose impeccable credentials were trusted in the Canadian Olympic Trials (1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994) as elite Canadian wrestlers vied to represent their country at the highest level.
In a career full of thrills, there are several matches Marrin remembers most fondly. Among them was a tilt in the 1983 Canada Winter Games final when he was just 27. Marrin remembers it this way: “Going into the last event of the Games, the medal standings of the entire Games were tied between Ontario and British Columbia, and the winner of the dual meet between Ontario and BC would be declared the winner of the Canada Games. The arena was crowded, the atmosphere was electric, and the matches were extremely close, with the audience reacting to every scoring action. To this day, it remains the most exhilarating competition that I have ever witnessed, and that was when I decided that I wanted to be committed to be a referee.”
Beyond officiating, Marrin lent his expertise to national and provincial wrestling organizations, serving in various key capacities. In 1996, his retirement year, Marrin was honoured when the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association (CAWA) created the Don Marrin Award that is presented to national level referees who achieve 20 years of service. Despite Marrin’s wealth of experience, he was only 40 when he retired. Choosing to spend time with his family, Marrin is no longer involved in the sport to which he gave so much, with the exception of connecting with the many friends he made in wrestling over the years.
Marrin now resides in Ottawa. He looks back on his career in wrestling, knowing it changed his life. The opportunities, the experiences, the travel, the friendships, the career – all because of the sport he loved and understood so deeply.
Marrin is already a member of the CAWA Hall of Fame, inducted in 1998, and is one of two officials in this induction class for the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame.