Morgan State University will become the only historically Black college or university (HBCU) to offer Division I wrestling, all thanks to the hard work of Jahi Jones and legendary pro-wrestler Kenny Monday.
Set to launch in 2024, Jones, 25, will serve as the executive director of the forthcoming program. During an interview with The Associated Press, the former wrestler and NCAA competitor said he was inspired to bring the sport to campus after watching the horrific police brutality death of George Floyd. He wanted to find a way to empower Black men and bring representation to the ring. According to AP News, in 2021, “Black men made up half the 10 Division I national champions but fewer than 10 percent of Division I wrestlers.”
“I would start thinking about ways that I could get involved to help inside of the wrestling community and just make things more fair and equitable,” Jones said. “It was just seeing the lack of diversity, but also seeing that … we excel inside the sport, but (we are) just not having those same opportunities to develop.”
In 1997, Morgan State was forced to cut the sport from its list of athletic offerings, but now the program is coming back bigger and better than ever.
Iconic Black pro-wrestler Kenny Monday will be the head wrestling coach at the HBCU.
Kenny Monday, who is the first Black wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal, will step in to lead Morgan State’s wrestling team as head coach. The retired wrestling vet made history in the field throughout his long career. He is best known for his achievements in freestyle wrestling, where he won numerous national and international titles.
Monday attended Oklahoma State University and was a standout fighter on the school’s wrestling team. He won the NCAA Championship in 1984 and was a three-time All-American during his college career.
After university, Monday went on to compete in international competitions, representing the United States at the Olympics and world championships. He won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He also won gold medals at the 1991 and 1995 world championships.
Following his competitive wrestling career, Monday became a coach and mentor to young wrestlers. He has also worked as a commentator for wrestling events on television. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2001.
In addition to wrestling, the Baltimore-based school will also add women’s acrobatics and tumbling. Officials at the HBCU say that adding the new sport fills a demand for Black parents looking to choose “non-traditional” sporting options for their children.
Morgan State University To Become First HBCU To Offer Division I Wrestling was originally published on newsone.com
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