Mensah-Stock seeks to convert newly established self-confidence into World gold

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Sept. 09, 2019, 5:50 a.m. (ET)

Photo by Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling. 

Tamyra Mensah-Stock is pound-for-pound one of the most dominant wrestlers the USA has to offer in any style. However, once upon a time, she would have been surprised to hear that.

Over the last four years, Mensah-Stock, who represents the USA at 68 kg in women’s freestyle, has become a rising talent not only on the domestic level but also internationally.

In 2016, she won the Olympic Trials but was unable to qualify the weight for the Games. In 2017, she made the World Team and competed in Paris, France. In 2018, she won a World bronze medal. And this year, she plans to trade it in for a World title.

Mensah-Stock will admit that her belief in herself, or lack thereof, has been a big obstacle for her in the past.

“It’s been something that I struggled with since I started wrestling,” she said. “I think there have only been three times in my entire wrestling career where I’ve lost a match because they actually outwrestled me. All the other times, it was due to mental fatigue or not believing in myself. I didn’t want to talk about it in the past because I thought that I was by myself in feeling that way. But because I’ve decided to be more open about it, I’ve been able to deal with it and resolve it.”

This year, she has tackled that mental stumbling block and has been absolutely dominant all year long. So much so that she enters the World Championships as the No. 2 seed.

This season, she competed in three of the four UWW Rankings Series events and claimed the top spot at all three tournaments: Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix, Dan Kolov International and City of Sassari Tournament. She also won gold at the Pan American Championships as well as the Pan American Games.

She attributes part of her success to the belief that others have in her.

“Having people around me who believe in me has made me so much more confident. Not me. I can’t build myself up as much as they can. They bring it out of me,” Mensah-Stock said. “I know we all have that power deep within us, but it’s all something that we struggle with. It’s not as big of a struggle as it used it used to be, but I work on it every single day. Confidence has been playing a big role. Once I believe in myself and I have all these people backing me, it’s hard to stop me. It’s such a powerful thought to me that it gives me goosebumps.”

Mensah-Stock leaves for the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in just a few days. When she returns to the United States, she plans to do so with a gold medal around her neck.  

 “I believe that this year I can be a World champion,” she said. “I keep playing it in my mind. I cannot let myself give up if I’m in a tough scramble, or even if I’m up by five points. I just have to make sure that I stay focused and that I’m ready for anything.”

Watch the full interview below!