Feature | Wrestling

Five things to know about Olympic wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs

The USA star has won four world championships, but did you know that he had a tough start at the University of Nebraska? More on that, and why he is so popular in Iran!

By Andrew Binner ·

Jordan Burroughs is the golden boy of freestyle wrestling, in every sense of the word.

The New Jersey-born grappler first gained notoriety at college as a two-time NCAA champion, before securing a US record 69-consecutive matches to start his Senior career.

That streak included 74kg Olympic gold for Team USA at London 2012, while he also won four-consecutive world championships titles from 2011-2017.

Burroughs' social media profiles can all be found under the handle @alliseeisgold, a statement which has often become a manifestation.

However, a rare road bump at the Rio 2016 Olympics saw him finish outside of the medals. Despite having already won everything the sport has to offer, he returned to the mat hungrier than ever for success, which speaks volumes of his inner drive.

Now 32-years-old, his only goal is to win gold again at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

But how well do you know the American wrestler?

Burroughs takes gold at London 2012

Jordan Burroughs beats Sadegh Goudarzi to win the Olympic men's 74kg freest...

1) A tough start in Nebraska

Despite Burroughs' superlative NCAA record, he didn’t have it easy to begin with at college.

In 2006 he accepted a scholarship to the University of Nebraska, and finished his freshman year with a 16-13 record. He worked relentlessly at his craft, ending with a 111-6 record over the next three seasons, and the Hodge Trophy for the top amateur wrestler in America.

In 2009, everything came screeching to a halt when he tore several ligaments in his left knee during a match - his first loss in 45 bouts.

The week before, he missed a match against South Dakota State in order to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Had he wrestled in that match, he would have fallen foul of the NCAA’s 'redshirt' eligibility percentage rule following his injury the next week, and would likely have never have wrestled again.

"Crazy things worked out," Burroughs said of the event. "That's why I believe everything happens for a reason. I feel so blessed for the opportunity I had. I'll be honest, I was a little bit down for me, physically, emotionally and psychologically. I fell hard, but I kept my faith in God, I kept my faith in my coaches' abilities and my own abilities, and I stepped up my training so much that my injured knee is now stronger than my right knee.

“I knew that if I was given another opportunity to bring home some hardware, I was not going to squander that opportunity."

Jordan BURROUGHS

United States of America
Wrestling
See More

Number of medals

1 Olympic medals

1

Olympic Games

2 Olympic Games

2) Winning a world championship on one ankle

Not even broken bones can hold the most gifted athletes back from winning.

Four weeks prior to the 2013 world championships in Budapest, Burroughs broke his ankle in training.

While competing just one month after such an injury would seem like a fantasy for most athletes, Burroughs not only took part, but won the event - his second consecutive world title.

He outscored his opposition 34–3, and recorded technical falls in three of his five matches, including Asian champion Narsingh Yadav and multiple Olympic, world, and European medallist Jabrayil Hasanov.

In fact, Burroughs went undefeated in 2013 for the third-straight year, and was unsurprisingly starting to be considered as a potential GOAT.

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3) A winning ritual with his wife

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest differences.

Before every competition, Burroughs’ wife Lauren writes him a letter and hides it in his wrestling shoes.

As he points out in the Instagram post below, he actually didn’t notice the gesture the first time she did it, and only found the barely legible note the next day!

Since then, the rule is that he cannot read the note until he is about to take to the mat for the first time.

He saves all the notes and draws on them for inspiration when times get tough.

In the words of the man himself: ‘Get you a hype wife.’

4) Jordan Burroughs: Popular in Iran!

Freestyle wrestling is the national sport of Iran.

While two-time world champion Hassan Yazdani is their favourite son, Burroughs - as one of the greatest ever to lace up - also enjoys huge popularity in the Middle Eastern nation.

He was even sent a Persian blanket after the birth of his second child, and keeps it on the mantle of his fireplace in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Indeed, Burroughs boasts a huge fan base around the world with almost 650,000 followers on Instagram, 244,000 on twitter, and over 155,000 on Facebook.

In an ultra-combative sport where intimidating stares are the norm, his outgoing personality, ever-present smile and family-friendly persona give him a ubiquitous appeal.

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5) Harnessing the power of mindfulness

In the macho world of wrestling, training the mind can often be overlooked. But not by Burroughs.

Using visualisation and mindfulness techniques, the American is able to decrease the effects of knocks he takes when in a bout.

"You look at it head on and say, 'Listen, I know this is gonna hurt, but I'm prepared for it’,” he told Olympic Channel.

“Mindfulness for me really started after Rio. Up until that point, I had never really had to draw on my emotions when I've had such a negative situation or circumstance occur to me on the day of competition,” Jordan Burroughs to Olympic Channel.

"This was the most devastating loss that I had ever taken in my career. And so I was like, if I'm going to come back, I'm going to refine myself both physically but also psychologically and spiritually."

As part of the Team Bridgestone Olympic Channel experience Olympic State of Mind, see below how Burroughs uses different mental techniques to both succeed on the mat and cope with hard times.

Olympic State of Mind | Visualise success with Jordan Burroughs

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