National Wrestling Hall of Fame

African American Wrestling Experience

By the turn of the century, African Americans did find sports success in some disciplines. But in the sport of wrestling, another 80 years would pass before a black athlete stood atop the podium in Seoul with the gleaming gold medal around his neck. It wasn’t until 1949 that a black athlete is known to have wrestled in the NCAA championships.

1949

Harold Henson of San Diego State becomes first African-American to wrestle in the NCAA tournament.

1954

Simon Roberts of Davenport becomes first African-American to win an Iowa state high school championship.

1957

Art Baker of Erie Academy becomes first African-American to win a Pennsylvania state high school championship.

Simon Roberts of Iowa becomes first African-American to win an NCAA championship.

1958

Simon Roberts of Iowa becomes first African-American to win a Big Ten championship.

1959

Bobby Douglas of Bridgeport becomes first African-American to win an Ohio state high school championship.

Art Baker of Syracuse wins an EIWA championship.

1960

Ken Moore and Houston Antwine of SIU-Carbondale become first African-Americans to win NAIA championships.

Hallow Wilson wins first AAU championship at heavyweight in Greco-Roman.

1961

Eddie McQuarters of Tulsa Washington High School becomes first African-American to win an Oklahoma state high school championship.

1962

Joe James of Oklahoma State becomes first African-American to win a Big Eight championship.

Rudy Williams and Hallow Wilson wrestle for the United States at the world championships.

1963

Joe James wins a gold medal in the Pan American games.

1964

Bobby Douglas, Charles Tribble and Robert Pickens wrestle for the United States in the Olympics.

Don Benning becomes the head coach at Nebraska-Omaha.

1965

Jim Nance of Syracuse becomes a two-time NCAA champion.

Charles Tribble of Arizona State wins the Gorrarian award (most falls) at the NCAA tournament.

1966

Bobby Douglas wins a world championship silver medal.

1967

Clarence Seal of Portland State and Willie Williams of Illinois State win NCAA Division II titles.

1969

Carl Adams of Iowa State becomes a true freshman NCAA All-American.

1970

Don Benning coaches Nebraska-Omaha to an NAIA team championship.

1972

Jimmy Carr, who is 17 years old and a high school junior, becomes youngest American wrestler to compete in Olympics.

1973

Lloyd Keaser wins a world championship gold medal.

1975

Fletcher Carr of Kentucky becomes the first coach with a Division I All-American.

1976

Lloyd Keaser wins an Olympic silver medal.

1978

Leroy Kemp of Wisconsin and Jimmy Jackson of Oklahoma State win their third NCAA title.

1979

Darryl Burley of Lehigh wins an NCAA title as a true freshman.

1980

Howard Harris of Oregon State selected Outstanding Wrestler of the NCAA tournament.

1988

Bobby Douglas coaches Arizona State to an NCAA team championship.

Kenny Monday becomes first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal.

1989

Carlton Haselrig wins record sixth NCAA Championship (3 DII and 3 DI)

1992

Rodney Smith wins a bronze medal in Greco-Roman at the 1992 Olympics.

Chris Campbell wins a bronze medal at 37 years old at the 1992 Olympics.

Bobby Douglas named U.S. Olympic Freestyle head coach.

1999

T.J. and Joe Williams become the first brothers to win NCAA championships.

2001

Toccara Montgomery wins a silver medal at the women’s world championships.

Kevin Jackson named USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach.

2002

Dremiel Byers wins first Greco-Roman world title for the United States in the heavyweight division.

2004

Toccara Montgomery wrestles for the United States in the Olympics.

2005

Kevin Jackson is inducted into the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Iris Smith wins a gold medal at the women’s world championships.

2008

Leroy Kemp, who won 3 World Championships, is inducted into the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Randi Miller wins a bronze medal in the Olympics.

2009

Dremiel Byers is second American to win three medals at Greco-Roman world championships.

2011

Toccara Montgomery wins a silver medal at the women’s world championships.

2013

Jordan Burroughs becomes second American to win three consecutive World/Olympic gold medals.

2014

Ed Ruth of Penn State wins third individual and fourth team NCAA championship.

2015

Jordan Burroughs named USOC Athlete of the Year, becoming only third wrestler to win the award.

2016

J’den Cox wins a bronze medal in the Olympics.

2017

Tamyra Mensah wins gold medal at Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix.

Kamal Bey wins gold medal in Greco-Roman at Junior World Championships, becoming first Greco-Roman Junior World title for the United States in 18 years.

Jordan Burroughs wins his fourth World title and helps United States win first World Championship team title since 1995. Burroughs five gold medals – World in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 and Olympic in 2016 – tie him with Bruce Baumgartner for second in USA Wrestling standings behind John Smith’s six gold medals.