USA Wrestling J’den Cox named 2019...

J’den Cox named 2019 John Smith Award winner, as USA Wrestling’s Freestyle Wrestler of the Year

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | April 17, 2020, 11:39 a.m. (ET)

J'den Cox celebrates after winning his 2019 World gold medal.

J’den Cox (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC/USOPTC) has been named the winner of the 2019 John Smith Award as the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling. It is the first time that he has won this prestigious award.

The award is named in honor of two-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion John Smith.

Cox won his second straight World Championships gold medal, when he powered through the 92 kg bracket to win the World title in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in September. He defeated Ali Reza Karimimachiani of Iran in the gold-medal finals, 4-0.

Cox had a 4-0 record at the World Championships without allowing a point, defeating his four opponents by a 26-0 margin. It was his fourth straight medal at the World and Olympic level, to go along with his 2016 Olympic bronze medal, his 2017 World bronze medal and his 2018 World gold medal. Cox went the entire 2019 year without a loss.

He added gold medals at two other major competitions, the Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina in April, and the Yasar Dogu International in Turkey in July.

Among the athletes that Cox beat at the Pan American Championships was 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jaime Espinal of Puerto Rico. At the Yasar Dogu, which was a UWW Ranking Series event, Cox went 4-0, scoring technical falls in all four matches, and beating his opponents by a 43-0 margin. In the Yasar Dogu finals, Cox beat Bendeguz Toth of Hungary, 10-0.

To qualify for this fourth straight USA World or Olympic team, Cox defeated Bo Nickal in Final X: Rutgers in June in two consecutive matches, 5-0 and 4-2. Later in the season, Nickal became a U23 World champion.

Cox also won his match in the Beat the Streets Gala event, the “Grapple at the Garden” held in Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in May, stopping Patrick Brucki in a 13-0 technical fall.

Cox is a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center resident athlete. He was a three-time NCAA champion and four-time All-American for the University of Missouri. Cox was a four-time Missouri state champion for Hickman High School in Columbia, Mo.

PAST JOHN SMITH AWARD WINNERS AS FREESTYLE WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
2019 – J’den Cox, Colorado Springs, Colo., Titan Mercury WC
2018 - David Taylor, State College, Pa., Nittany Lion WC
2017 – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md., Titan Mercury WC
2016 – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md., Titan Mercury WC
2015 – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md., Titan Mercury WC
2014 – Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio, Sunkist Kids
2013 - Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2012 - Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2011 – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb., Sunkist Kids
2010 – J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio, New York AC
2009 – Jake Herbert, Evanston, Ill., New York AC
2008 - Henry Cejudo, Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunkist Kids
2007 - Daniel Cormier, Stillwater, Okla., Gator WC
2006 - Bill Zadick, Colorado Springs, Colo., Gator WC
2005 - Tolly Thompson, Cedar Falls, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2004 - Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2003 - Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2002 - Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2001 - Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2000 - Brandon Slay, Amarillo, Texas, Dave Schultz WC
1999 - Stephen Neal, Bakerfield, Calif., Dave Schultz WC
1998 - Sammie Henson, Norman, Okla., Sunkist Kids
1997 - Les Gutches, Corvallis, Ore., Sunkist Kids
1996 - Kendall Cross, Raleigh, N.C., Sunkist Kids
1995 - Kevin Jackson, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1994 - Melvin Douglas, Mesa, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1993 - Terry and Tom Brands, Iowa City, Iowa, Team Foxcatcher
1992 - John Smith, Stillwater, Okla., Sunkist Kids