David Taylor is already the reigning world champion at 86 kilograms, and now can claim the title as the best pound-for-pound freestyle wrestler in the world in 2018.
Taylor — commonly known as the “Magic Man” — won the men’s freestyle award from United World Wrestling, which also honored Finland’s Petra Olli in the women’s freestyle category and Hungary’s Peter Bacsi for Greco-Roman. Winners are determined based on ranking points that each athlete earns over the course of the year in various competitions; Taylor earned more than any other men’s freestyle wrestler at any weight class.
Besides world bragging rights, the title comes with a significant monetary prize of 10,000 Swiss francs, or just over $10,000.
At his worlds debut, Taylor won his first world title in Budapest, Hungary, in October, taking down Olympic gold medalist Hassan Yazdani of Iran in the first round before beating No. 1 seed Fatih Erdin of Turkey in the gold-medal match. It was the highlight of a busy year for the 28-year-old, who also won the 86 kg. gold medal at this year’s Pan American Championships, the U.S. Open, the Ivan Yariguin and the Yasar Dogu tournaments.
He didn’t lose a match all season.
Taylor was a dominant college wrestler for Penn State, winning two national championships and two Dan Hodge Trophies as the most outstanding college wrestler.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to compete for the USA and represent the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club,” Taylor told UWW. “I wouldn’t have been able to reach this point without my coaches, training partners, and the treigning lab. I’m honored to be the wrestler of the year and look forward to 2019!”