Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1872, Tom Jenkins was a street tough kid who became the heavyweight champion of America. He was an extremely powerful and competitive wrestler who took on all comers and gave no quarter during his long career.
As a young man, Jenkins worked long and hard hours in the iron mills, forging a powerful body and nerves of steel. He won the U.S. title from Farmer Burns, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Jenkins ruled supreme for five years until running into Frank Gotch. Heavier and older than Gotch, he taught Gotch much of what the Iowa farmer needed to learn to become a great champion himself. They met eight times and Jenkins won three. Gotch said Jenkins was the toughest he ever wrestled.
President Teddy Roosevelt appointed Jenkins as wrestling and boxing instructor at West Point in 1905. There, he taught thousands of Cadets how to be tough, both on the mat and in life. Among his famous pupils were George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower.
Jenkins taught at West Point for 37 years and was idolized by thousands of Cadets. He died in 1957, at the age of 83. He is one of the men who truly bridged the gap between professional and amateur wrestling.