Class of 2020
Montini High School
Israel Martinez is one of the most decorated wrestlers and coaches to come through the state of Illinois. He was introduced to wrestling at the age of 9 when both he and his brother Nathan joined the East Aurora Tomcats. Under the coaching of his father, Jose, and the support of his mother, Betty, Israel became a five-time IKWF state champion and was recipient of both the Marty Combes and Ron Irwin Outstanding Wrestler Awards.
Israel continued his wrestling career at West Aurora High School where he compiled a 118-1 record. The lone loss came in his first high school match due to an illegal slam. Israel rebounded from this disappointing start and went on to earn 3 consecutive IHSA State Championships from 1998 to 2000.
In addition to his Folkstyle accolades, Israel excelled in the International styles. He was a six-time Freestyle and Greco-Roman champion at the Northern Plains Regional Championships and earned All-American status five times at the USAW Cadet and Junior National Championships. This success allowed Israel to earn a spot on Team
USA where he earned a 3rd place finish at the Cadet World Championships in Lodz, Poland and a 2nd place finish at the Fila Junior World Team Trials.
Following high school, Israel competed at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In 2002, he won the NJCAA National Championship at 157 lbs. with an undefeated record of 27-0. In the same year, he won a Western Regional title and received the Outstanding Wrestler award in Freestyle. Israel’s competitive career was cut short, but his involvement with the sport was far from over.
In 2004, Israel made the decision to enter youth and high school coaching which allowed him to give back to the sport that meant so much to him and his family. In 2005, he established the Izzy Style School of Wrestling which quickly became one of the elite training centers in IL. Notable alums include NCAA National Champion Tony Ramos, 3x NCAA All-American Jordan Blanton and Cadet World Champion Will Lewan.
In 2005, Israel joined the coaching staff at Montini Catholic High School under the guided leadership of hall of fame coach, Mike Bukovsky. As an assistant, Israel helped the Broncos to three consecutive Team State Championships in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Upon Bukovsky’s retirement, Israel was appointed Montini’s Head
Coach beginning with the 2010-11 season. In his 9 years at the helm, he has coached 91 individual state qualifiers, 75 state place winners, and 30 state champions. As a team, Montini continued their dominance under Israel’s strong leadership by winning 7 IHSA Dual Team titles and 1 runner-up finish. In addition, the Broncos have won numerous local, regional, and national tournaments which has allowed them to earn a Top 5 national ranking in each of the past 3 seasons. In 2015, Israel was named the National Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
In addition to encouraging success on the mat, Israel is constantly pushing his wrestlers to achieve off the mat. Eleven former Montini wrestlers are currently competing in NCAA Division I wrestling. Past and current wrestlers have attended and wrestled for top schools such as Stanford, Princeton, Brown, University of Chicago, Northwestern, US Naval Academy, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
Over the years, Israel’s passion and expertise for coaching wrestling caught the eye of the UFC and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Israel began as wrestling coach for long-time friend and MMA veteran, Clay Guida. This successful relationship led to Israel becoming the Head Wrestling Coach at world-renowned Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, NM. Here, Israel works with many top athletes including former world champion, Holly Holm and the current #1 pound for pound fighter in the world, Jon Jones.
Israel LOVES coaching, but when he is not on the mat or in the octagon, he can be found spending time with his TRUE LOVES…. fiancé, Melissa and their two boys Israel and Nathan Martinez.