Black History Month Special Section
by Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling
Each day during the month of February, USA Wrestling will highlight a black wrestler, who has had or is having a significant impact on the sport.
USA Wrestling will update this article daily of each athlete featured.
Feb. 28 – Melvin Douglas
Melvin Douglas was a dominant freestyler for the USA, making six World teams (1989, 93, 94, 95, 97, 98) and two Olympic squads (1996, 2000). In his 1996 Olympic appearance, he took seventh in the World. More notably, Douglas was a 1993 World champion and collected three other World medals, including a silver in 1989 and bronzes in 1994 and 1995. Douglas also scored a gold medal at the 1995 Pan American Games as well as a silver at the 1998 Goodwill Games. Domestically, Douglas won seven national freestyle titles and earned a spot on 11 National Teams.
Feb. 27 – John Matthews
John Matthews was a two-time Olympian for the USA in Greco-Roman. He competed at the 1976 Olympics at 74 kg but was unable to wrestle at the 1980 Olympics when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games. In between his two Olympic bids, Matthews represented the United States at the 1978 World Championships, where he took fourth, and he also won the 1979 Pan American Games. He also claimed a bronze medal at the 1980 World Cup. Domestically, he was impressive, winning eight national Greco titles.
Feb. 26 – Alexandria Glaude
Alex Glaude is a rising star in women’s freestyle. Though she has only been on the Senior circuit for a few years, Glaude is already in the history books. In 2018, she became the first woman to win a U23 World medal, taking bronze, thanks to a stunning last-second four-pointer in the bronze match at 68 kg. The next year, she earned a spot on the U.S. National Team with a Final X runner-up finish. All of this happened while she was still in college and picked up a WCWA national title for McKendree in 2019 and a National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championship title in 2020. Glaude also represented the USA at the 2017 Junior World Championships.
Feb. 25 – Lee Kemp
Lee Kemp is one of the most popular wrestlers in history. A three-time NCAA champion for Wisconsin, Kemp went right into the international freestyle circuit, where he found success quickly, winning back-to-back World championships in 1978 and 1979 at 74 kg. Claiming his first World gold in 1978, he was the youngest U.S. wrestler to win a title at 21 years old. Kemp went on to make the 1980 Olympic Team and was a favorite to win gold; however, the United States boycotted the ’80 Olympics and Kemp never had a chance at the world’s biggest stage. He bounced back, representing the U.S. at the 1981 World Championships, securing bronze. The next year, he was back on top, winning the 1982 World title and making him the first American to win Worlds three times. During that span, Kemp also win two golds at the Pan American Games (1979, 1983) and four golds at the World Cup (1979-82). In 1990, Kemp was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member, the highest honor.
Feb. 24 – Spenser Mango
Spenser Mango was an amazing Greco force nationally for several years. Competing at 55 kg, Mango earned bids to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics, recording top-10 finishes in both events. He made six other Senior World Teams and competed at the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 World Championships. In his 2013 and 2014 showings, he advanced to the bronze-medal match and ultimately took fifth. Prior to making his first Senior team, Mango won the University World Championships in 2007. Other notable achievements for Mango included his 2015 Pan American Games bronze medal and seven U.S. Open titles. He retired at the 2016 Olympic Trials and currently serves as an assistant coach for the Army WCAP team.
Feb. 23 – Kelsey Campbell
Kelsey Campbell has been a great example in the sport for all. She was a 2012 Olympian, representing the USA at 55 kg at the London Games. She also won the 2016 Olympic Team Trials but, unfortunately, did not get a chance to compete in Rio. Additionally, Campbell has suited up for the United States at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships. She has a long international record, winning countless medals, including gold medals at the 2011 and 2016 Pan American Championships. Domestically, Campbell has been elite, winning four U.S. Open titles (2009, 2010, 2017, 2018).
Feb. 22 – Lloyd “Butch” Keaser
Lloyd Keaser made history in 1973, becoming the first black wrestler to win at World title, topping the podium in Tehran, Iran at 68 kg. He remained an outstanding representative for the United States winning several other medals, including a silver at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Keaser earned gold medals at the 1973 World Cup, 1974 World Military Games and 1975 Pan American Games. At the legendary Tbilisi tournament, he claimed bronze in 1973 and silver in 1974. Keaser was part of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Class of 1996 as a Distinguished Member, the highest honor.
Feb. 21- Greg Gibson
Greg Gibson left a huge legacy in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle communities, competing for the Marine Corps at 100 kg. He split his time between both styles and was wildly successful, collecting three World medals in freestyle and a 1984 Olympic silver medal in Greco. His Olympic medal was one of the first Greco Olympic medals for the USA as Gibson was one of four to win medals in Los Angeles. In his freestyle World appearances, Gibson earned silver in 1981 and 1983 as well as a bronze in 1982. Not only did he compete in freestyle at the 82 Worlds but also in Greco and Sambo. That year, Gibson became the first American to win a World sambo title. He also competed for the USA at the 1981 World Championships in Greco. In 1983, Gibson won double gold at the Military World Championships. Another piece of his legacy are his two gold medals at the 1980 and 1985 World Cups. His 1980 gold was the first World Cup gold in Greco for the USA.
Feb. 20 – Leigh Jaynes
Leigh Jaynes was a powerful women’s freestyler, wrestling for Army WCAP. She wrestled for the USA at three World Championships: 2007, 2012 and 2015. She got better with each Worlds showing, placing 12th and 10th in 2007 and 2012, respectively. At the 2015 Worlds, Jaynes broke through, earning a spot on the podium with a bronze-medal finish at 60 kg. She also competed at the 2014 Military Worlds, where she took sixth. Another major international result for Jaynes was her bronze medal at the 2016 Pan American Championships.
Feb. 19 – J’den Cox
J’den Cox is one of the most dominant wrestlers on the planet. His international career began in 2016, when he shocked many to make the U.S. Olympic squad. At the Rio Games, he finished his debut season with an Olympic bronze medal at 86 kg. Since then, Cox has represented the USA at the 2017, 2018 and 2019 World Championships. Still getting into his freestyle groove, he won bronze at the 2017 Worlds. With the introduction of a new weight class, Cox jumped up to 92 kg for the 2018 and 2019 Worlds, which earned him to back-to-back World gold medals. Additionally, Cox is a 2019 Pan American champion.
Feb. 18 – Eric Wetzel
Eric Wetzel found success in both Greco-Roman and freestyle. According to his Illinois Coaches Association Hall of Fame bio, Wetzel was a six-time Military World champion, winning three titles in Greco and three in freestyle as a Marine Corps athlete. He was also on three U.S. World Team, representing at the 1986, 1990 and 1993 World Championships. Wetzel was a 1987 Pan American Games silver medalist and a two-time World Cup bronze medalist. Domestically, he collected five U.S. Open championships.
Feb. 17 – Tina George
Tina George is a two-time World silver medalist and seven-time Senior World Team member for the USA. She faced off against the legendary and eventual three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida of Japan in both of her World finals appearances. George collected her World silvers in 2002 and 2003 but also competed at the 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2006 World Championships. She had a successful 2003 season, where, in addition to her World medal, George won gold at the Pan American Games, silver at the Pan American Championships and silver at the Dave Schultz Memorial International. George was also a U.S. Army veteran, who served more than a year in Iraq.
Feb. 16 – Chris Campbell
Chris Campbell is best known for becoming the oldest U.S. wrestler to win an Olympic medal when he collected bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games at age 37. He also won bids on Senior World Teams in three different decades, representing at the 1977, 1981, 1990 and 1991 World Championships. Campbell won a World gold at the 1981 World Championships, which came a year after he earned a spot on the 1980 Olympic Team but was unable to compete, due to the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow. He also made the podium in 1990, winning a silver medal at the Worlds. In addition to his World and Olympic success, Campbell claimed silver at the 1991 Pan American Games.
Feb. 15 – Ike Anderson
Ike Anderson made an impact on the U.S. Greco-Roman community as an athlete and continues to as a coach. Anderson competed at 62 kg and represented the U.S. at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where he finished sixth. Two years later, he was back on the World stage, wrestling at the 1991 World Championship. That same year, Anderson won a silver medal at the 1991 Pan American Games. He finished his career as a three-time World Cup medalist and a three-time U.S. Greco-Roman Nationals champion. After competing, Anderson went on to coach at the highest level. He was part of the 1996 Olympic coaching staff and later was a U.S. National Development Coach for many years.
Feb. 14 - Victoria Anthony
Victoria Anthony has been an excellent representative for Team USA for over a decade. She made history as a junior-aged athlete when she became the first American in any style to win two-consecutive Junior World titles, collecting golds in 2009 and 2010. Anthony carried that success into her college career at Simon Fraser as she was the first college athlete to win four WCWA national titles. In her Senior-level career, Anthony has suited up for the Red, White and Blue at the 2013 and 2017 World Championships and finished fifth in both showings. She also produced gold-medal finishes at the 2014, 2017 and 2020 Pan American Championships. Though the weight classes have changed during Anthony’s career, she currently competes at 50 kg.
Feb. 13 – Nate Carr
Nate Carr is a staple in wrestling history, securing his legacy with a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. His stay in international wrestling lasted nearly decade with his first World Team bid coming in 1983. He also represented the U.S. at the 1990 World Championships, collecting top-10 finishes in both appearances. Carr also recorded a gold-medal finish at the 1986 Pan American Championships. That same year, he also won gold at the World Cup. Prior to his impressive run internationally, Carr earned three NCAA titles, competing for Iowa State University, where he now serves as the Cyclone RTC head coach.
Feb. 12 – Ellis Coleman
Ellis Coleman is a current Greco-Roman star, who has represented the USA at the 2012 Olympics and four Senior World Championships. Coleman began his Senior international career in 2010, and his success came quick, earning bronze at the Senior Pan American Championships. That same year, he competed in his first Junior Worlds, where he collected a bronze medal. In 2011, he secured his second-consecutive Junior World bronze medal. The very next year, he jumped levels, wrestling for the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games. He’s continued to be a threat domestically, claiming spots on the 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019 World Teams. In addition to his Senior Worlds bid in 2019, Coleman won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games and took eighth at the Military World Championships.
Feb. 11 – Toccara Montgomery
Another trailblazer in women’s wrestling is Toccara Montgomery, who was the first Black woman to earn a spot on the U.S. wrestling Olympic Team, which she did in 2004 at 72 kg. Prior to making the Olympic Team, Montgomery was impressive in her international career, representing the USA in three Senior World Championships at 68 kg. In two of those showings, she emerged with silver medals (2001, 2003). Her first Senior World medal came when she was a Junior-eligible athlete. In fact, Montgomery won World silver medals in the Junior and Senior divisions in 2001, which eventually earned her the FILA International Female Wrestler of the Year honor. She also had a Junior World silver in 2000. Montgomery produced a gold-medal performance at the 2003 Pan American Games as well as the 2002 and 2003 Pan American Championships. After competing, Montgomery went into coaching, where she served at the University of the Cumberlands and Lindenwood University.
Feb. 10 - Kevin Jackson
Kevin Jackson is one of the top freestyle athletes and wrestling coaches in USA Wrestling history. Competing internationally in the 1990s, Jackson earned gold-medal finishes in 10 of his 13 major international competitions, including the 1992 Olympic Games and the 1991 and 1995 World Championships. He also represented the USA at the 1993 and 1994 Worlds. Upon wrapping up his athletic career, which also consisted of World Cup and Pan Am championships, Jackson got into coaching, where he thrived, serving stints at Iowa State (assistant coach and head coach), Arizona State (assistant coach), Sunkist Kids (head freestyle coach) and USA Wrestling (head freestyle coach, resident coach and development coach). Among those he coached were Olympic champions Cael Sanderson and Henry Cejudo to Olympic titles. Jackson currently serves at the Freestyle Developmental Coach, where he has helped several Cadet, Junior and Senior-level athletes to World medals, including 14 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze.
Feb. 9 – Shawn Sheldon
Shawn Sheldon was one of the most dominant Greco-Roman wrestlers during his wrestling prime, representing the USA at two Olympic Games and eight World Championships in the 1980s and 90s. Competing at 52 kg, Sheldon placed fourth in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, and competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. He was also a silver medalist at the 1991 World Championships. Domestically, he owned his weight class, winning nine U.S. National Greco-Roman championships. He also collected bronze medals in the 1987 and 1991 Pan American Games. After wrapping up his athletic career, Sheldon became one of the most notable Greco coaches in the country as the NYAC club coach. In 2005, he was named the USA Wrestling Greco-Roman Coach of the Year.
Feb. 8 – Tamyra Mensah-Stock
Tamyra Mensah-Stock has solidified herself as one of the top pound-for-pound women’s freestylers in the world with her impressive rise to the top over the last four years. Mensah-Stock made her World debut in 2017 at 68 kg, where she tallied a top-10 finish. Since then, she has been on a roll, medaling at her next two Worlds appearance with a bronze medal in 2018 and the World gold medal in 2019. Mensah-Stock put the world on notice in more ways than one. In January 2019, she became the first American in any style to win the challenging Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix three times in a row. A few months later, she secured gold at the Pan American Games. Add in her World title and it was the perfect resume to earn United World Wrestling’s Female Wrestler of the Year award. Thanks to her Worlds performance, Mensah-Stock has landed a spot in the Olympic Trials finals, which will take place this spring.
Feb. 7 – Kenny Monday
Kenny Monday will forever be in the conversation as one of the best wrestlers in U.S. history. He was the first Black wrestler in any style to win an Olympic gold medal, when defending World champion Aldan Varaev of the Soviet Union in the 1988 Olympic finals. To make that team, Monday defeated defending Olympic champion Dave Schultz for the 74 kg spot. The next year, Monday won gold at the World Championships, defeating 1988 Olympic champion Arsen Fadzayev of the USSR, who moved up a weight class for the 1989 World Championships. Monday secured his second World medal in 1991, winning silver. In addition to his 1988 Olympic medal, Monday also scored a 1992 Olympic silver medal, despite an elbow injury. He also made an appearance at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where he finished sixth.
Feb. 6 – Mike Foy
Mike Foy is a World silver medalist and two-time Olympian in Greco-Roman. Foy’s original focus was men’s freestyle after he wrapped up his college career and he was fourth at the 1987 World Team Trials. The next year, Foy decided to pursue Greco fulltime and he topped the podium of the 1988 Olympic Trials at 90 kg in Greco. At the Games, Foy finished eighth on the World’s biggest stage. The following year, he was even more successful, winning the Pan American Championships and capped off that year with a silver medal at the 1989 World Championships. Foy went on the represent the USA at the ’92 Olympics as well as the 1990 and 1994 World Championships. He was also a three-time U.S. Open champion during his career. Currently, Foy serves as the founder and Executive Director of the National African-American Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Feb. 5 – Randi Miller
Randi Miller is one of the major trailblazers in women’s wrestling. In 2008, Miller won a bronze medal at 63 kg at the Beijing Olympic Games, becoming the first (and so far the only) black woman to win an Olympic medal for USA Wrestling. She was just the third woman overall to win a medal at the Olympics. After her impressive performance in Beijing, Miller, who competed for Army WCAP, returned to the world stage in 2014 to compete at the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Despite not placing in Tashkent, one month later, Miller claimed a gold medal at the World Military Championships. In addition to her Olympic and World medals, Miller was also a 2006 Pan American champion.
Feb. 4 – Bobby Douglas
Bobby Douglas is a legendary wrestler and coach, who accomplished many firsts as a Black man in wrestling. In 1964, he became one of the first Black Olympians for USA Wrestling and went on to finish fourth at the Olympic Games. 10 years later, he became the first Black head coach at a Division I school, when he was hired at Arizona State in 1974. A few years into his career at ASU, Douglas became the first Black head coach to win an NCAA team title, when he led the Sun Devils to victory in 1988. It was the first and only time a western school has won the tournament. He went on to become ASU’s all-time winningest coach, compiling a 229-95-6 record. He also spent 14 years as the head coach at Iowa State, guiding the Cyclones to 198 dual meet wins. As a Senior-level athlete, Douglas went 303-17 overall, collecting a World silver medal in 1966 and a World bronze medal in 1970 and representing the USA at two Olympic Games and six World Championships. In 1987, Douglas became the first Black wrestler inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member, the highest honor.
Feb. 3 – Dremiel Byers
Dremiel Byers is considered one of the most decorated Greco-Roman athletes in U.S. history, with three World medals, the most of any American Greco athlete, tied with another heavyweight hero, Matt Ghaffari. In 2002, Byers became the first, and so far the only, African-American Greco wrestler to win a Senior World title. He also won two other World medals, claiming silver in 2009 and bronze in 2007. Overall, he represented the USA at 120/130 kg at eight Senior World Championships (1999, 2002, ’05-07, ’09-11) as well as two Olympic Games (2008, 2012). In his Olympic showings, he was sixth in 2008 and 10th in 2009. Domestically, Byers was just as dominant domestically, collecting 10 U.S. Open titles during his career. For his achievements, Byers was named to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 as a Distinguished Member, the highest honor.
Feb. 2 – Iris Smith
Iris Smith made history in 2005, becoming the first black woman to win a World title for the United States, topping the podium at 72 kg. It wasn’t her first World title. In 2010, she competed at the World Military Championships as an Army WCAP wrestler, where she secured her second gold medal. She was a three-time World Team member and also represented the USA at two World Military Championships. In those five world-level appearances, she claimed two golds and one bronze, which was from the 2014 World Military Championships. Additionally, Smith was a two-time Pan American champion.
Feb. 1 – Jordan Burroughs
Jordan Burroughs has solidified himself as the face of USA Wrestling, dominating his weight class domestically and internationally for the last 10 years. Competing at 74 kg in men’s freestyle, Burroughs made his World Championships debut in 2011 upon graduating from the University of Nebraska. In his first Worlds appearance, Burroughs put the planet on notice, winning gold. The next year, he transcended the wrestling world, becoming an American sports sensation with a championship performance at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Since kicking off his Senior-level career, Burroughs has won an Olympic title, four World gold medals and three World bronze medals. Overall, he’s represented the United States at seven World Championships and two Olympic Games (2012, 2016).