Photo courtesy of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Welcome to a weekly series on TheMat.com called USA Wrestling History Lesson. Each week, we will highlight one athlete that has wrapped up his or her wrestling career, sharing the impact that they’ve had on the sport.
This week, we take a look at Kevin Jackson, a 1992 Olympic champion and two-time World champion in men’s freestyle.
Check out the other USA Wrestling History Lessons HERE.
Many young wrestling fans are familiar with Kevin Jackson as he is one of the top wrestling coaches in the world, but his accomplishments as an athlete are just as impressive. There is no doubt that he was one of the greatest freestyle wrestlers in American history
Jackson’s Senior-level international career began in 1990 with a gold medal at Pan American Championships. The next year was a breakout year for him as he collected gold medals at the Pan American Championships, Pan American Games and the World Championships, all at 82 kg/180 lbs.
Overall, Jackson represented the United States at four World Championships and one Olympic Games. Below are his performances:
- 1991 World Championships – gold
- 1992 Olympic Games (Barcelona) – gold
- 1993 World Championships – fourth
- 1994 World Championships – 11th
- 1995 World Championships – gold
Other notable performances for Jackson include gold at the 1995 Pan American Games as well as contributing to gold-medal finishes for the USA at the 1995 and 1997 World Cup.
After wrapping up his athletic career, Jackson turned his eyes toward coaching.
He served as a coach for Iowa State (assistant coach and head coach), Arizona State (assistant coach), Sunkist Kids (head freestyle coach) and USA Wrestling (head freestyle coach, resident coach and development coach).
In his first stint as USA Wrestling, Jackson served as the National Resident Freestyle Coach, where he worked with Olympic champion Brandon Slay among others. In 2001, he was promoted to National Freestyle Coach, and led the USA through two Olympic cycles, including the 2004 Olympic Games and 2008 Olympic Games. Among those he coached in that role were Olympic champions Cael Sanderson and Henry Cejudo to Olympic titles.
In 2017, Jackson returned to USA Wrestling as the National Development Freestyle Coach, and since then, has helped several Cadet, Junior and Senior-level athletes to World medals, including 14 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze.
Included in that medal count is a 2017 Senior World bronze and 2018 and 2019 Senior World gold medals for J’den Cox, who Jackson works closely with at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.
Also of note, in 2003 Jackson was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member, the highest honor. He is also a Distinguished Member for the UWW International Hall of Fame.