Josiah Henson

February 24, 1922 - April 04, 2012

A champion collegiate and international wrestler, one of the world’s best international wrestling referees and leader in the U.S. wrestling community for half a century. Those credits belong to no other than Josiah Henson.

A two-time EIWA champion, Henson went undefeated for three years while competing for the U.S. Naval Academy during World War II when no NCAA Championships were held. He then became one of the nation’s best freestyle wrestlers, winning a bronze medal at 139 pounds in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. He was also the 1952 AAU national champion, competing for the Armed Forces team.

After his competitive career ended, Henson set his sights on officiating on the international level. In 1956, he became the first American to qualify as a FILA international referee and work at the Olympic Games in Melbourne. In 1968 in Mexico City, he became the first American to work as a mat chairman in the Olympics. He also produced the first English translation of the FILA International Wrestling Rules.

Henson’s leadership roles in the wrestling community include serving as chairman of U.S. wrestling within the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1964 and 1968; Chef de Mission of the 1967 Pan American Games; and president of the AAU.

In 1963, he became only the second American to receive the FILA Gold Star. He was also named the 1958 Man of the Year by Amateur Wrestling News. Elected to the Helms Hall of Fame and the AAU Wresting Hall of Fame, he also received the FILA Centennial Award. In 2003, Wrestling USA magazine presented him with its Master of Wrestling Award.

Henson founded and directed the Henson Company, a major wrestling products company now known as Brute Wrestling.

In addition to his wrestling honors, Henson completed a distinguished career as a captain in the U.S. Navy. A pilot with more than 400 carrier landings from 1941 to 1969, he is a decorated war veteran honored with a Presidential Commendation.

As an extraordinary athlete, official and contributor to the advancement of the sport, Josiah Henson is honored as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.


Distinguished Member

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