It has been announced that Jim Jordan, a four-time Ohio state high school wrestling champion and two-time NCAA champion for Wisconsin, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump on Monday in a closed-door ceremony at the White House.
Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Jordan, who was honored as an Outstanding American by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014, becomes the second wrestler to receive the nation’s highest honor for a civilian. Dan Gable, a Distinguished Member inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980 who is also the namesake of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in his hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom on December 7, 2020.
Other athletes who have been honored include Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Jesse Owens, Billie Jean King, Michael Jordan, and Babe Ruth. Past recipients have been movers and shakers in a range of fields, including public service, medicine, journalism, entertainment, and business. The impressive list of past honorees includes Steven Spielberg, Angela Merkel, Nancy Reagan, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jordan might be the best wrestler ever to occupy an elected position in the United States Government. He was a four-time Ohio state high school wrestling champion for Graham High School with a career record of 150-1. Jordan was a three-time All-American and a two-time NCAA champion for the University of Wisconsin. After placing sixth at 134 pounds as a sophomore in 1984, he won back-to-back national titles in 1985 and 1986.
His 1985 title as particularly memorable, as he defeated eventual six-time world and Olympic champion John Smith of Oklahoma State, a Distinguished Member inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1997, in the finals. Jordan finished with a career college record of 156-28-1 and graduated from Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He later earned a master’s degree in education from the Ohio State University and a law degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.
Jordan was voted most dedicated athlete on his team for three consecutive seasons, which was foreshadowing of success to come. He would take the lessons he learned on the wrestling mat into the realm of public service. Jordan returned to his home state to serve as an assistant coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994.
He was first elected to the Ohio General Assembly in 1994 and served three terms as state representative of the 85th Ohio House District. In 2000, he won a seat in the Ohio Senate by a margin of 88 percent to 12 percent.
Since January 3, 2007, Jordan has represented Ohio’s 4th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He won congressional terms during the 2008, 2010, and 2012 by convincing margins. Jordan has also received numerous awards during his time as a congressman, including National Legislator of the Year, Freedom Fighter Award, and the Thomas Jefferson Award.