National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Distinguished Member Monday Will Receive Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award

By Eric Bailey
Tulsa World
Kenny Monday’s link to legendary coach Henry Iba began when he was an Oklahoma State wrestler in the early 1980s.

“Mr. Iba was a winner. When I started to look at Oklahoma State, that was something that I looked at. I’ve always been the kind of guy that paid attention to history and wanted to make history,” said Monday, a Distinguished Member inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2001.

“Mr. Iba was definitely a name that was recognizable. As a freshman, I stayed in Iba Hall. I’ll never forget my days in Iba Hall. There were a lot of great athletes — Garth Brooks stayed in the dorm with us — that I was associated with.”

Monday, a Booker T. Washington graduate and Olympic gold medalist, will be the male recipient at the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards presented by Tom Rinehart on June 18. The black tie-optional event will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa.

The Iba Awards were created in 1994 by the Rotary Club of Tulsa to recognize male and female athletes for their success in their sport and for being positive role models who give back to their communities.

As a native Tulsan, Monday said he’s honored by the opportunity to be recognized at such a prestigious event.

“My family still lives in Tulsa and my roots are in Tulsa,” said Monday, who now lives in North Carolina, where he leads the Tar Heel Wrestling Club. “Tulsa, Oklahoma, was very rich, not just in the sport of wrestling but in sports in general. I went to school with Wayman Tisdale and John Starks. I grew up watching Booker T. Washington and watching coach Ed Lacy and his legacy.”

Monday had an amazing youth wrestling career while learning the sport at the Hutcherson Branch YMCA. He never lost a match from seventh grade through the end of his high school career, going 140-0-1.

While an All-American at OSU between 1981-84, Monday won the 1984 NCAA title at 150 pounds. He was 121-12-2 for the Cowboys, and won a gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

It has allowed him to introduce children to the sport.

“Winning an Olympic gold medal gave me an additional platform to work from,” Monday said. “I’ve been all over the world coaching kids and working with underprivileged children. Every chance that I get an opportunity to do that, I’ll do it.”

Where did that passion begin? It came during grueling workouts while trying to make his first Olympic team.

“I was having a bad week and struggling with training,” Monday said. “Special Olympics came to town. I volunteered and worked with athletes and it changed my mindset. It really made me count my blessings and really turned me around as far as being grateful. … Those athletes were really about competing. That humbled me and made me grateful in the opportunity that I had.

“I’ve worked with kids across America. My roots were from YMCA and (I) always volunteer at the YMCA and give back.”

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