Mizzou wrestler J’den Cox named coach of USA Freestyle Wrestling

Former Missouri Tigers wrestler J’den Cox announced his retirement in April during the U.S. Olympic qualifiers, but the 2016 Rio de Janeiro bronze medalist and three-time world champion couldn’t stay off the mat for long.

Cox, a three-time national champion during his time as a Tiger (2013-17), was named Wrestling Freestyle Development Coach for USA Wrestling on Tuesday.

“I was overjoyed and overcome with emotion,” Cox said in a USA Wrestling press release. “It was overwhelming to find this opportunity. It’s a great position and anyone who matters would want to be in this position. The legacy that has been built around USA Wrestling, the bar that has been set in freestyle wrestling, is amazing.

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“I feel honored to be in a position to help young men develop as people, first to become great men, and then as athletes. I look forward to getting started and making an impact on the future of USA Wrestling.”

Cox, a graduate of Columbia’s Hickman HS, decided to stay home for his college career and attend Mizzou. He was a four-time state champion in high school. With the Tigers, he became the program’s first three-time national champion, a feat that still stands, and was also a four-time All-American. He was inducted into the Mizzou Hall of Fame in 2022.

After his time at Mizzou, Cox won two bronze World Championship medals (2017, 2021) and one silver (2022) — in addition to gold in 2018 and 2019. He was also a member of two World Championship teams (2017 and 2021).

Cox joins USA Wrestling’s national freestyle coaching staff, along with Bill Zadick, national freestyle coach, and Joe Russell, manager of the freestyle programs.

“It is an honor to welcome J’den Cox to the USA Wrestling Men’s Freestyle staff as our National Development Coach,” said Zadick. “J’den brings a fresh perspective, having been an athlete (recently), along with an attitude of continuous learning. The development pipeline is instrumental to our continued success in USA Wrestling Men’s Freestyle Wrestling.”

“I am confident he will adapt to this new role and use his attitude and perspective to positively impact USA Wrestling’s elite age group athletes, our established Olympic Training Center program and the entire USA Wrestling development pipeline.”

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Maddie Hartley, a digital layout editor who works on the Morning Sports Edition, joined The Star in 2023. She is a KU student originally from Baxter Springs, Kansas. She moved to the Kansas City area in 2021.

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