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Thursday, February 28, 2013

No Holds Barred: Kevin Jackson on Iowa State Going To NCAAs and Big 12s, Saving Olympic Wrestling, and King Mo 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again speaks with Coach Kevin Jackson, the Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion freestyle wrestler, who is the head wrestling coach for the legendary Iowa State Cyclones.

After a slow start to the 2012-13 college wrestling season, Iowa State reeled off eight wins in their final nine dual meets, with the team now ranked 20th in the nation. Several wrestlers are also individually ranked in the top 20, including redshirt sophomore Kyven Gadson, who is ranked seventh at 197 pounds.

"Were happy with the last few months," said Coach Jackson in this interview, which was recorded by phone Wednesday. "It's just the way our guys are competing. The wins are coming. The dominating performances are coming. The major decisions, the falls, the tech falls are all falling into place."

This all comes at the right time for Iowa State. The regular season is now over, with the Big 12 Duals and Championships slated for March 8-9 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the NCAA Div. I National Championships March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Coach Jackson added, "We're still a young team. We have four sophomores and three freshman starting in our lineup. So we're really excited about our future. But also we think for a lot of these guys the future is now, and that there are great opportunities for them at the Big 12s next week, and then at the NCAA tournament a few weeks later."

While college wrestling in the U.S. prepares for these championship tournaments, the entire worlds of wrestling and sports were rocked by the recent decision of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee to drop wrestling from the program of the 2020 Olympics. We also discussed this with Coach Jackson.

"I don't know exactly what went wrong, besides I think our leadership within our international governing body [FILA] was flawed, and we weren't staying ahead of the game," he said. "We weren't staying ahead of what we needed to do to show the IOC that we were worthy of being in the Olympic Games, and the great things that we have done throughout the history of the Olympic Games, and how we are an integral part of those Games. And I don't think our international governing body did that."

Besides going over what changes international wrestling needs to make and what we can do to help save Olympic wrestling, we also discussed the recent loss in the Bellator MMA organization by "King" Mo Lawal, who had trained for years in freestyle wrestling with Coach Jackson at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Coach Jackson was also a professional MMA fighter in the 1990s in both UFC and Battlecade Extreme Fighting, so he offered some friendly advice to "King" Mo.

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