Okoli wins gold at first Pan American Beach Championships held in Colombia

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Oct. 23, 2015, 12:52 p.m. (ET)
CARTAGENA, Colombia – U.S. beach wrestling star Ike Okoli (Rome, Ga./Southern Hawk Wrestling) won a gold medal at the unlimited weight class in the first Pan American Beach Wrestling Championships held on October 11.

Okoli beat an opponent from Colombia, a member of their University World Greco-Roman Team, in his best-of three series. Okoli won in two straight matches by 3-0 margins, scoring a takedown and a pushout in both of the bouts.

Okoli was the only U.S. athlete entered in the competition, which featured athletes from Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela and the United States.

Okoli won a bronze medal at the 2014 Beach World Championships in Katerini, Greece. He has been the U.S. Beach Nationals champion in the Senior division for the last three years (2013, 2014, 2015).

Beach Wrestling is a non-Olympic style of wrestling as recognized by United World Wrestling.

Including Okoli, the USA has nine different athletes win Beach World medals. The only American to win a Beach World silver medal was Donovan DePatto in 2011. U.S. wrestlers who have won two World bronze medals are Jeff Funicello and Carlos Dolmo. Other men who have won World bronze medals are Ray Downey and Angelo Borzio. U.S. women who won Beach World bronze medals were Leigh Jaynes, Bethany Harris and Tanya Miyasaki.

Note: Photos courtesy of Ike Okoli