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Avtar Bhullar holds on to photo of himself at his home in Richmond , B.C. March 11, 2012 when he was a wrestler and his son Arjan was starting out to be a wrestler.John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

It's a long road from northern India's Punjab state to Richmond, B.C. – and an even longer one to the Olympics.

Among the cranberries that dot the Bhullar family's Lower Mainland farm is a shed – a gym – where son Arjan has honed his craft, freestyle wrestling. One of the now 25-year-old's earliest memories is watching his father compete in front of thousands of adoring fans at an Indian wrestling event. The audience cheered the patriarch's every move; some even gave him their babies to hold once he safely stepped outside the ring. The adoration made Arjan want to follow in his father's footsteps.

On Sunday – two years after he won gold for Canada at the Commonwealth Games – Arjan will try to cement his path to this summer's London Olympics, continuing the family journey that began a world away, in a village that shares his surname.

Avtar Bhullar was 11 years old when, in 1971, he moved from India to Vancouver. To call it a culture shock would be an understatement. Only a couple thousand people lived in his hometown of Bhullar and the majority had the same last name, though some Gills and Sandhus were sprinkled in. The Bhullar family settled near south Vancouver's Punjabi market in 1971, before moving to the farm five years later.

The cranberry business has proven lucrative, the Bhullars a true immigrant success story. At 14,000 square feet, their home is practically a village all its own. More than 20 people live within its walls.

"I don't think any other family lives like us in Canada, or India," Avtar says with a laugh. "There's four of us brothers who live here, and we're all married and we have kids. And our mom and dad live with us. Even my nephews are all married now and they have kids. We sometimes laugh about it, saying, 'Is anyone ever going to move out of this house?'"

Arjan Bhullar was born in May, 1986, nearly a decade after his father and uncles erected the homemade gym. Arjan was still in diapers when he started scooting around the wrestling mat.

His childhood mixed the old country and the new. Each year, the family travelled back to India so Avtar could compete on the professional wrestling circuit – the unscripted kind.

The father says he never pushed Arjan into wrestling and was content watching him compete in other sports, such as football and basketball. But when it came time to focus on just one event, it was wrestling, naturally, that won out.

The list of South Asian athletes who have become household names in Canada is quite short; even figure skater Emanuel Sandhu is half-Italian. Hockey's Vancouver Canucks have drafted Surrey native Prab Rai, a player who would surely boost jersey sales within the South Asian community, though he's yet to hit the ice for the professional club.

Arjan appears ready to take his place on the list. The Simon Fraser University political science student narrowly missed out on a spot at the Beijing Olympics, but ask him if he'll be in the 120-kilogram event in London and his answer is unwavering: "You better believe it."

He talks with pride at winning Commonwealth Games gold on Indian soil, in front of some of the same men his father competed against. After winning his final match, Arjan marched around the Indian stadium waving a Canadian flag – again a confluence of the new country and the old.

Soon after the Games ended, Arjan's family returned to the village of Bhullar and, just as they had done on their Richmond farm more than three decades earlier, they built a gym – this one for community members to use.

The gym in Bhullar is part of Arjan's legacy, his father says, a way of giving back. It's not the only thing his son does to help his community. In B.C., he's worked with a group dedicated to ending violence against women, which he calls a major issue among South Asians. Arjan is also part of a program called the Esteem Team that motivates children to achieve their goals.

Perhaps surprisingly, it's Avtar who can sometimes wear on Arjan's esteem, at least when it comes to wrestling. The father serves not only as a trainer, but also as Arjan's harshest critic. "Sometimes he gets upset, he tells me, 'Dad, you don't see anything that's good.' I say, 'Good is something for other people to see. I have to tell you what you're weak on.'"

Avtar, like his ever-confident son, says he has no doubt Arjan will qualify for the Olympics. The father will be there in Florida this weekend, feeling a nervousness that's similar to when he himself was in the ring. But this time it will be Avtar watching how the crowd responds to his son's performance, flipping the script that made Arjan decide to wrestle in the first place.