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After Two Olympics, Greco-Roman’s Ben Provisor Qualified For His First World Championships

By Craig Sesker | May 02, 2017, 2:42 p.m. (ET)

Ben Provisor celebrates after defeating Jacob Clark to win the Greco-Roman 85 kg. final and claim a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on April 9, 2016 in Iowa City, Iowa.


Ben Provisor was just like a lot of aspiring young wrestlers when he entered high school.

He had a goal of winning a state championship.

But that’s where many of the similarities ended.

When Provisor entered the practice room as a wide-eyed, 15-year-old freshman, his coach asked him what his ultimate goal was in wrestling.

Provisor didn’t hesitate to respond.

“2012 Olympian,” he said matter-of-factly.

Provisor achieved that lofty dream when he made the U.S. Olympic Team in 2012 before repeating the feat again by earning a second Olympic berth in 2016.

Even though he has competed twice on the sport’s biggest stage, Provisor still hadn’t make a U.S. team for the world championships. That changed Saturday night when he captured a Greco-Roman title at the U.S. World Team Trials in Las Vegas, qualifying for the world championships in August in Paris.

“I finally got the monkey off my back and made that first world team,” he said. “I want to win gold, that’s the only real goal that’s on my mind now. This is what I’ve been working toward my whole life.”

His current focus is much more short term, though.

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Nearly nine months after wrestling in the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the 26-year-old Provisor returns to Brazil again to represent his country at the Pan American Championships this weekend in Salvador da Bahia.

“This is my first time at the Pan Am Championships,” he said. “I’m excited to represent the U.S. and hopefully I can bring home a gold medal. I’m obviously in really good shape coming off the trials. I hope to wrestle the Cuban and get some good matches in. It will be a good experience.”

Provisor began wrestling at age 6, and by age 13 he was headed to Bulgaria for six months of training.

“That was really a turning point in my career,” he said. “It was difficult being so far away from home, but it was an awesome experience to go to another country. I wrestled with Ivo Angelov, who went on to win a world title, when I was 13. I became pretty advanced as a wrestler at a young age.”

Provisor grew up being coached and mentored by world champion and Olympic silver medalist Dennis Hall in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

“I’ve been so blessed to have Dennis in my corner for my entire career,” Provisor said. “He’s meant everything to my development as an athlete. To have such a great resource at such a young age was invaluable. Working with him definitely prepared me for a bigger stage.”

The burly 5-foot-8 Provisor won’t dazzle you with explosive athleticism or take your breath away with a spectacular array of throws. What he will do is fight you every second on every inch of the mat.

“I just try to work as hard as I can every day to get better,” he said. “Nobody is going to outwork me.”

With experience also comes knowledge. That was evident when Provisor swept past world teamer Joe Rau in the best-of-three match finals of the World Team Trials. Trailing by one point late in the second match, Provisor dug down to score the winning takedown at 85 kg.

“Rau’s a great competitor,” Provisor said. “He is going to come at you hard, but it’s easier for me when guys want to wrestle aggressively because I know how to get them off-balance.”

A glance at the gashes on Provisor’s face revealed what a battle it was with Rau.

“I had four separate cuts on my chin,” Provisor said. “I ended up with a total of nine stitches.”

Hall, who was in Provisor’s corner in Vegas, was impressed with his star pupil’s performance.

“Ben is becoming a student of the sport,” Hall said Monday. “He had a great trials and made some big improvements on putting points up on the scoreboard. He is working on trying to capitalize on his position and create more scoring opportunities, which will hopefully end up with him on the podium this year at worlds.”

After going 1-1 at his first Olympics in London, Provisor spent much of the next Olympic quad battling injuries before putting it all together again at the 2016 Olympic team trials. However, Provisor dropped a 6-3 decision to 2015 world silver medalist Rustam Assakalov of Uzbekistan in his first Olympic match in Rio.

“I didn’t go as far as I know I am capable,” he said. “I know I can compete with anybody on the Olympic stage. I just made one little mental mistake and it cost me.”

Provisor bumped up to 85 kg. last year after making his first Olympic team at 74 kg.

“I was cutting a lot of weight before — that was rough,” he said. “Now I can focus more on wrestling. It’s made a big difference.”

Provisor was a long-time resident at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before moving back to his native Wisconsin to train after the 2016 Olympics. Now his plan is to make a run at a third Olympic team in 2020.

“I want another shot,” he said. “Wrestling is my life. I’m not going to stop until my goals are accomplished.”

Craig Sesker is a sportswriter based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has covered three Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.