Jordan Burroughs won his sixth world wrestling title, combining with his 2012 Olympic title to become the first U.S. wrestler with seven global gold medals.
Burroughs, 34, won all five of his matches over the last two days at the world championships in Belgrade in the 79kg division, which is not an Olympic weight class.
He beat Iran’s Mohammad Nokhodi 4-2 in Friday’s final, using his trademark double leg takedown, in a rematch of last October’s world final also won by Burroughs.
“I’m still at the top of my game,” said Burroughs, a father of four who won his first world title in 2011 and is 10-0 in medal matches between the Olympics and worlds. “Before every match, I always remind myself that I chose this. This is chosen suffering.
“Someone’s going to break this [record] one day. Today is my day.”
Burroughs, who said in June that he plans to retire after the 2024 Olympics (whether or not he makes the team), for years harbored a goal of breaking John Smith‘s American record of six combined Olympic and world titles. Adeline Gray complicated the quest by winning her sixth gold last October, as did Burroughs. Gray, 31, is on a break, giving birth to twins in July.
“I’m going until I absolutely can’t anymore,” he said Friday. “As of now, that day hasn’t come yet.”
Burroughs’ 10 medals of any color between the Olympics and worlds are second in U.S. history to Bruce Baumgartner‘s 13.
“I’m the standard now for USA wrestling,” he said. “I’ve been at this for 12 years, and there’s no one who can say that I don’t deserve this.”
Burroughs won his Olympic gold medal in 2012 in the 74kg division and competed there through last year’s Olympic Trials, where he was beaten by Kyle Dake. Burroughs then moved up to the non-Olympic 79kg division, since Dake received a bye into the October 2021 Worlds at 74kg as a reigning Olympic medalist (bronze).
Burroughs must move back into an Olympic weight class by 2024, likely returning to 74kg with an eye on dethroning Dake at Olympic Trials.
Also Friday, American David Taylor beat rival Hassan Yazdani of Iran 7-1 in a rematch of last year’s Olympic 86kg final (won by Taylor with a takedown with 17 seconds left) and last October’s world championships final (won by Yazdani).
Taylor, 31, “contemplated retiring multiple times” since his Olympic title in Tokyo and “was hurt all year, hardly could train,” due at least in part to knee swelling.
“I just didn’t know if I wanted to do it anymore,” he said. “I achieved my lifelong goal of Olympic champion. I believed if I could go to world championships eight weeks later, I’d probably be done. Going there and losing, it was hard.”
Two U.S. wrestlers won back-to-back Olympic titles, and just one in the last century — Smith in 1988 and 1992. Burroughs and Taylor are older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling gold medalist, according to Olympedia.org.
“My wife, my coaches, my inner circle of people, they just sat me down and said, ‘What do you want? You’ve earned the right to do whatever you want to do.’ I’m not a loser. I’m not going out losing [at the October 2021 Worlds],” Taylor said. “[Yazdani] is burning that fire for me to continue going. He’s that barrier between me and a gold medal in Paris. World championships are great, but people remember us for the Olympics.”
American Zain Retherford, the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Wrestler of the Year at Penn State, took silver in the non-Olympic 70kg division. Retherford on Thursday clinched his first world medal in his third appearance, then on Friday fell 10-0 to Japan’s Taishi Narikuni in the final.
Earlier Friday, past world champions J’den Cox (92kg), Thomas Gilman (57kg) and Dake advanced to Saturday gold-medal matches.
Wrestlers from Belarus and Russia are banned due to the war in Ukraine. Russian wrestlers won the most medals at the 2021 World Championships (18) and were second to the Americans with eight medals at the Tokyo Games.
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