World champion J’den Cox said he was removed from the Olympic Wrestling Trials before they began after his coach told him the wrong time window for weigh-ins.
Cox “missed weight,” according to USA Wrestling’s announcement that Cox was out of Trials after Friday morning’s weigh-ins.
Cox, a 2016 Olympic 86kg freestyle bronze medalist, was taken out of Friday’s bracket. He had been slated to wrestle Friday for a place in Saturday’s 97kg finals against Olympic champion Kyle Snyder.
“I was informed with the wrong times of when weigh-ins were supposed to be, and that’s just flat-out the truth,” Cox, who said he was still in the appeals process, told NBC Sports before Saturday’s finals in Fort Worth, Texas. “Really, I think it’s just miscommunication. In the grand scheme of things, I feel that I was not — how do I say — presented, I guess, the same opportunity would be the word to say. I’m not really sure how to phrase it, but I think it’s just miscommunication. I want the right to represent my country.
Cox said his coach, 1992 Olympic champion Kevin Jackson, who is also a USA Wrestling developmental coach, gave him the wrong times.
“We’re not giving up,” Jackson texted Friday morning, according to Flowrestling. “Working on it.”
Cox said he’s “going to fight for what I believe is right.”
“I’d be crazy not to,” he said. “My dream’s on the line, so I’ve got to do that, but overall, I’m going to be someone of kindness and of grace. At the same time, when it comes down to doing things, I’m also going to bring the walls down when I have to. That’s just how I roll. That’s how I’ve always been.”
MORE: Olympic Wrestling Trials results
USA Wrestling declined comment on Cox’s interview, citing section 9 (“athletes’ rights”) of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee bylaws process and protocol.
“[When] we had the petition, I told them, either way, whatever you decide today, my role wasn’t going to change,” Cox said. “I told them, either you say, no, I can’t wrestle, and I’m still going to go to practice, which I did, because now I’m training for worlds [in October, for which there will be a trials meet after the Olympics], or you say, yes, I can wrestle, and I’m training for the next match.”
Cox, who took 86kg bronze in Rio after his coach all but begged him to enter the 2016 Olympic Trials, won the world championships in 2018 and 2019 at 92kg, which is not an Olympic weight class. In the latter, he became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years.
He’s on a 20-plus-match win streak dating to 2018.
In February 2020, less than two months before the originally scheduled Trials, Cox made a surprise announcement. Rather than go back down to his Rio Olympic weight of 86kg, he was moving up to 97kg to challenge Snyder.
Snyder became the youngest U.S. wrestler to win a world title in 2015 at age 19 and an Olympic title in 2016.
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