National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Smith Clarifies Chesbro’s Wrestling Legacy

By Guerin Emig
Sports Columnist
Tulsa World
March 7, 2020
TULSA, Okla. – They say a man truly reveals who he is during hard times, and so we’re going to start a remembrance of Tommy Chesbro in 1984. That was the year Chesbro’s Oklahoma State wrestlers finished second to Iowa at the NCAA Championships, the year one of Chesbro’s all-time greats lost his second match at that NCAA meet, and the year Chesbro wound up being replaced as Cowboys coach.

We’re going to let John Smith, the all-time great who lost that ’84 NCAA match, tell a story:

“I was a true freshman and didn’t place at nationals. Really, my points that I should have gotten was probably the difference for us winning or losing. The one thing I’ll always remember after that tournament was coach Chesbro came up and put his arm around me and said, ‘No regrets. You’re looking at a bright future and regrets only hold you back.’”

Smith shares the story inside a coaches’ room at the BOK Center as his Cowboys prepared to wrestle in this weekend’s Big 12 Championship, and he attempts to add to his bounty as one of the most successful competitors and coaches in the history of his sport.

“Really, that allowed me to …” Smith continues before pausing for the right words. “… When you have one of your heroes in your sport tell you, ‘Hey, no regrets, you’re gonna move forward …’

“There was a sense of him not being my coach but him being much more, another father to me. There are moments in your life where someone really makes a difference in the outcome. That was one moment, there’s no question.”