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The new face of USA Wrestling was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal Thursday, and Friday morning, CNN interviewed him, followed by NBC's Today Show. Later this summer, the new face of USA Wrestling will be featured in three national magazines - Sports Illustrated, Time and Ebony, and the most amazing thing of all is the irony of ironies: The new face of USA Wrestling is a Nebraska graduate who is in the process of replacing the old one, who also happens to be a Nebraska grad.
So hello America, how are 'ya? Please welcome the hard-charging but mild-mannered Jordan Burroughs, the new face of USA Wrestling who's On the Road to London in this, the summer of 2012. Burroughs is taking America's media by storm, but even the guy who admits "All I See is Gold" would never step on the wrestling shoes of a former Husker who pulled off the biggest upset in Olympic history.
Surely you remember Rulon Gardner. Twelve years ago, "that" face of USA Wrestling upset Aleksandr Karelin, the unbeatable Russian a.k.a. the emperor of Greco-Roman Wrestling. Gardner denied "The World's Meanest Man" what would have been an unprecedented fourth straight gold medal, and he seemingly has been the face of USA Wrestling ever since.
Olympic Breath of Fresh Air in Times Square
That's all changing now, and the match was struck Thursday night when Burroughs beat the third best Russian in his weight class, 8-0, 5-0, before a huge crowd at New York City's Times Square. "It was packed, and the crowd went crazy," said Nebraska Wrestling Coach Mark Manning, who next week will be announced as a member of USA's 2012 Olympic wrestling coaching staff.
"Jordan beat a good wrestler and made him look like a little kid while doing it," Manning said Friday. "He's been in the process of becoming the face of USA wrestling, and yesterday certainly reinforced that idea. Before that match was over, NBC wanted him on Friday morning's Today Show, and CNN had the same idea. I didn't see the shows, but I heard Jordan did well." Manning got good information. Check the links above and see why.
Bryan Snyder ranks No. 1 on Nebraska's all-time winning percentage chart in wrestling. A member of Manning's coaching staff, he's Burroughs' daily training partner at his Lincoln base. "The top two Russians haven't beaten the third-ranked Russian like Jordan did," Snyder said Friday. "He just crushed him. He really is the new face of USA Wrestling. J.B.'s great. He deserves everything that comes his way. I've watched every match, and watching him last night makes me even more excited about London. Obviously, he has to stay focused and keep working like he is, but that kid is on track, that's for sure."
All He Sees is Gold, But He's Far From Cocky
Once you watch the video interviews above, you'll understand how a wrestler who hasn't lost since 2009 can stay on an even keel and insist that he's 100 percent sure he'll win the gold, yet not sound a bit cocky when he says it. It's all part of his deep resolve, rigorous training regimen and supreme confidence.
"Jordan hates to lose, and he knows his confidence is a huge part of his success," Snyder said. "He believes in his training, and he works hard every day. He's taken on the role of being USA's ambassador, and that's increased his confidence, too. USA Wrestling's been thinking that way for a while. Now, Jordan's thinking that way, too."
"Jordan's taken on all the pressure that goes with that," Manning said. "He's embraced it."
"That's a lot of accountability to take on, but if anyone can, Jordan can," Snyder said. "He has great charisma, great confidence., and he's willing to build up his sport when it's been overlooked for so long. In a lot of ways, he's put USA Wrestling back on the map. I don't think it's been this way since Rulon did it."
Two Husker Wrestling Icons: How About That?
At the risk of sounding like Mel Allen, I can't help but ask Snyder: How about that?
"How about that!" Snyder said, repeating the line of a legendary baseball announcer before adding: "Pretty cool!"
Cool enough that Burroughs was invited to the New York Stock Exchange Friday to help ring the opening bell.
And if he rings the bell of everyone he wrestles in London, you can bet he'll be invited back someday because owning gold is infinitely more important than just seeing it.
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