Jordan Burroughs And J’Den Cox Seek Redemption In World Championships

by Karen Price

Jordan Burroughs reacts against Kyle Dake in their freestyle 74 kg. finals match at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on April 3, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas.


While all eyes will certainly be on the eight U.S. medalists from the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 competing at the World Wrestling Championships beginning Saturday in Oslo, Norway, they will also be trained on a pair of men’s freestyle wrestlers who didn’t get to Tokyo.
Former Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs lost to Kyle Dake at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the spring, ending a streak of nine years of representing the U.S. at every world championships and Olympic Games. J’den Cox didn’t even get to wrestle, after missing weigh-in and subsequently being removed from the schedule. 
Now both will be looking for redemption in Oslo.
Burroughs, 33, posted a shot to his Instagram of him at the Dallas Fort Worth airport on March 30, squatting next to his luggage, after arriving in town for the Olympic Trials.
His next post was five days later, when he wrote, “This road has been long and difficult. I’m gonna take some time away to reflect and rebuild. This isn’t the end for me. Thanks to everyone for their support. Congratulations to all this year’s Olympians.” 
Three weeks later, Burroughs told USA Wrestling that after stepping back and spending time with his family he was already planning to bulk up so he could try to make the world team at 79 kg. He and his family moved from his longtime home in Nebraska, where he went to college, to Philadelphia, where he joined the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center as a resident athlete. The Sicklerville, New Jersey, native also prepared to welcome a fourth child to the family and served as a commentator for NBC during the Olympic wrestling competition. 
On Sept. 10, the night before he wrestled to try to make the world team at a new weight (Dake won a bronze medal in Tokyo and was automatically invited to compete at 74 kg. in Oslo), he wrote that going into any competition he thinks about all the preparation that’s gone into it and all the times he didn’t give his best effort.
“Each time I wrestle I am one match closer to the end of my career.,” he wrote. “And when I let doubt creep in and sabotage my performance, I lose the chance to give my gift to the world. It’s an opportunity I’ll never get back because I lost focus for a moment. Tonight I remind myself, when it’s all said and done how do you want to be remembered?”
This time, Burroughs’ post-match shot was one of a happy man.
Swollen, but happy.

(L-R) J'Den Cox and Ivan Yankousk (Belarus) compete during the final of the men's freestyle wrestling 92 kg. category at the World Wrestling Championships on Oct. 22, 2018 in Budapest.


Burroughs defeated four-time United World Wrestling Ranking Series gold medalist Alex Dieringer to make his 10th world and/or Olympic team. 
“10,” he wrote in the post showing him with a puffed-up and bruised eye. “I’m truly only a reflection of all of the phenomenal people in my life. God has been good to me. Age doesn’t determine toughness. I still choose to operate with faith, discipline, and effort. Every day. Banged up, but all smiles. Next stop Norway!”
Cox, who won the Olympic bronze medal at 86 kg. in 2016 then two world championship titles at 92 kg. in 2018 and 2019, had a much different experience at the Olympic Trials.
Planning to challenge Kyle Snyder for the spot at 97 kg., Cox said his coach told him the wrong time for weigh-in prior to competition last spring. Thinking it ended 30 minutes later than it did, Cox did weigh in but didn’t have enough time to shed what he needed and said he was .1 kg. overweight. After then weighing in at 96.9 kg. after the deadline passed, he petitioned unsuccessfully to be allowed back into the competition. 
A month later NBC Sports reported that Cox told national team coach Bill Zadick he was “here to destroy people’s lives now. I’m here to take people out. I’m here to tear up the world. It’s not out of spite. It’s not out of vengeance. It’s just what will be. It’s to prove to everyone what I’ve known and to prove and show what’s been shown in the last two years, that I’m the best wrestler in the world.”
With Snyder winning silver in Tokyo and claiming his spot at 97 kg. in Oslo, Cox competed at the World Team Trials at 92 kg. and defeated Kollin Moore. The 26-year-old from Columbia, Missouri, will now go for his third title at the weight. He’s medaled at every Olympic and world championships in which he’s wrestled so far in his career. 
Both athletes received their draws on Friday, along with the rest of the U.S. men’s freestyle team.
Burroughs, who is unseeded, will open with 2021 Pan American Championships bronze medalist Samuel Barmish of Canada. Cox, also unseeded, will open with a match against Mongolia’s Orgilokh Dagvadorj. He could face both the No. 2 and 3 seeds if he advances to the semifinals. 
Burroughs and Cox are both in Group 2 and will wrestle Sunday and Monday.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.