Morgan State revives wrestling with Olympic gold medalist coach

With Kenny Monday, the first black wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal, Morgan State will be the only HBCU offering men’s wrestling.

Courtesy of Morgan State Athletics

Morgan State University is making history by bringing back NCAA Division I, Varsity-level men’s wrestling after a 25-year break. The program will be led by none other than Kenny Monday, the first Black wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal. With Monday at the helm, the team is sure to be a force to be reckoned with on the mat. But that’s not all – Morgan State will also become the only historically black college or university (HBCU) to offer NCAA Division I Varsity-level wrestling. With Monday at the helm, the Bears enter an exciting new chapter in their rich wrestling history.

Kenny Monday spoke to Morgan State Creatives about his wrestling career, his coaching preferences, and much more.

Q+A with Kenny Monday

Q: Tell us about yourself and your job at Morgan State University.
Monday: I just accepted the job of Morgan State University’s Head Wrestling Coach after a 25 year hiatus of the program being dropped in 1996. I am super excited about that. I graduated from Oklahoma State University, I was an NCAA champ there. I am also a three-time Olympian. I am an Olympic gold medalist and an Olympic silver medalist.

Q: What is your favorite thing about coaching?
Monday: I would have to say my favorite part about coaching is just empowering young athletes and teaching them the sport I love. I have been wrestling since I was five, so I’m passionate about the sport and teaching the sport I love. 

Q: At what age did you fall in love with wrestling?
Monday: I started [wrestling] when I was five so when I started I never looked back. I think from the very beginning starting in the YMCA, I realized that it was a great sport but it also taught self defense. It helped me out a little bit on the playground. 

Q: Did you play any other sports growing up?
Monday: Oh yeah, I played a lot of sports. I played baseball, football, and basketball. I think I fell in love with wrestling. I liked that probably the most.

Q: What weight class did you wrestle in?
Monday: Well, in the Olympics I wrestled 163 pounds. In college, I wrestled 150 pounds. When I first started wrestling, I wrestled at 48 pounds.

Q: Which wrestling pin move did you use the most?
Monday: I would say the cradle. It was one of my favorite [wrestling] moves because it was a pinning move. You could end a match with that move.

Q: Who is your favorite all-time, current or former wrestler?
Monday: That’s a great question. My favorite all-time wrestlers are Lee Kemp and Jordan Burroughs. Of course my sons, Kennedy and Quincy are my favorite wrestlers also.

Q: Do you prefer morning or evening workouts?
Monday: I like them both. I think it depends on the mood and the workout. I would probably say evening workouts.

Q: World Championships or Olympics, which competition was your favorite to compete in?
Monday: I love them both. I would probably say the Olympics because it has more people who compete in it and it’s more prestigious. Everyone knows what the Olympics is. You have pretty much the same competitors at both competitions but the Olympics are a lot more prestigious.

Q: What is one tip you’d give young wrestlers?
Monday: The one tip I would give young wrestlers is to believe in yourself. No one should believe in you more than you. Of course, work hard and be dedicated to the sport. Learn as much as you can, be a student of the sport. Study the best wrestlers. One thing that I always did was to study the champions. If you study the champions then you’ll learn how to be a champion. 

Q: How does it feel to have your sons follow in your footsteps?
Monday: It feels great to introduce them to the sport, both Kennedy and Quincy. It is a little nerve wracking watching them wrestle. It feels good and they both have great careers. Kennedy wrestles at the University of North Carolina. Quincy is finishing up his career at Princeton University. They’re both good wrestlers. The sport has so many great attributes to it. There’s so many things that you learn from it. [Wrestling] has taken me all over the world, the discipline, the character building. It’s really a great sport.

Morgan State revives wrestling with Olympic gold medalist coach
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