Tamyra Mensah-Stock, who in Tokyo became the first Black U.S. woman to win an Olympic wrestling title, said she retired from competitive wrestling and signed with the WWE.
“I feel like I have done everything that I can in Olympic wrestling,” she told ESPN. “I’ve got the gold medal. I’m a multiple world champion, and I’ve been in it for 15 years, and I’ve had an incredible journey.”
Mensah-Stock signaled at least a temporary break from the sport last month when she declined her spot in June’s Final X, which determines the team for September’s world championships.
Mensah-Stock said in an interview shortly after winning her Olympic gold medal that she wanted to pursue WWE.
After the Tokyo Games and the October 2021 World Championships (where she won bronze coming off COVID and a back injury), she took eight months off and had thoughts of quitting wrestling.
She returned in dominant fashion in 2022, winning her second world title in the 68kg division.
She routed her four opponents by a combined 36-0 over the two-day competition in Belgrade. Every match ended early via pin or mercy rule (a 10-point lead). She pinned Japan’s Ami Ishii at the 2-minute, 11-second mark of a six-minute regulation final on Sept. 15, her most recent competitive match.
“I wiped the floor with everybody, and I was like, man, this is not fun anymore. I need a change,” Mensah-Stock said. “Something in the back of my head that’s just been itching at me, a dream of mine for I don’t know how long. I just wanted to be in the WWE.”
The U.S. team for this September’s worlds in Belgrade will be determined at June’s Final X with head-to-head matchups in each of the 30 weight classes among women’s freestyle, men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.
Mensah-Stock’s absence could shake up U.S. women’s wrestling, which is deep at 76kg, the weight class directly above Mensah-Stock’s 68kg.
Kennedy Blades, who at age 17 was runner-up to Mensah-Stock at the Tokyo Olympic Trials, since moved up to 76kg.
Adeline Gray, a six-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist, returned from childbirth to compete at last week’s U.S. Open at 76kg, a division she owned domestically for nearly a decade. She lost to Blades in the U.S. Open final.
Amit Elor, who was born Jan. 1, 2004, won last year’s world title at 72kg to become the youngest U.S. wrestler to win an Olympic or world title. Since 72kg is not an Olympic weight, Elor must move down to 68kg or up to 76kg by next year.
Kylie Welker was runner-up to Gray at 76kg at Olympic Trials at 17 years old, then won the world junior title in August 2021.
Mensah-Stock is the latest Olympian to join WWE. Past gold medalists to do so include Kurt Angle (1996) and Gable Steveson (2021), who unretired at the U.S. Open and bids for the 2024 Paris Games.
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