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BVK Blog: USA Wrestling needs Burroughs and his double for a long time
By Bryan Van Kley
There’s a famous sports story about the New York Yankees’ great Babe Ruth once “calling his shot” in the 1932 World Series Game 3 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The great slugger pointed his bat out to the center field bleachers, then hit it there with the next pitch.
Jordan Burroughs is now wrestling’s version Babe Ruth. He predicted his Olympic gold medal the night before the Olympics. And far beyond that, the supremely-confident Burroughs’ Twitter handle or name is: alliseeisgold.
As I wrote in my blog yesterday, Burroughs though joking around about how good he is and that he wants to become the greatest U.S. wrestler ever, is such a likeable guy. Nebraska coach Mark Manning talked about Burroughs as one of the most humble, kind people you’d ever meet who often plays with Manning’s kids. He’s definitely not someone who walks around puffing their chest out.
Burroughs and his magnetic personality had reporters and broadcasters in stitches during his two press conferences after the gold-medal win on Friday night. He talked about wanting his Twitter account to blow up with tweets and followers and that he’s genuinely encouraged by peoples’ support. He talked about not being afraid of anyone who stepped out against him … saying he’d double-leg the queen of England if she was across from him. But made sure to point out no disrespect to her hyness.
Burroughs is just flat-out fun … nd exactly what wrestling needs.
He wants to transcend the sport. He wants to be the one to put wrestling on ESPN. He wants to be one to gain so much popularity for wrestling that it become mainstream. He wants to be known as an American sports hero.
I don’t know if he’s there yet, but he traveled along ways down that road tonight … and in front of a lot of big-time reporters and broadcasters.
As Burroughs said, we’ll see tomorrow and the days to come how much publicity he gets. What I do know is that he is beyond a shadow of a doubt the U.S.’s gold standard in wrestling. He has a personality coaches will point to and say to their wrestlers, “See how much fun Jordan makes the sport? See ahow confident he is in his abilities while still respecting his opponent and the sport?”
I jokingly asked Burroughs about the John Smith record of six straight World/Olympic titles that he wants to beat. I jabbed him that Smith has a move named after him, the John Smith low single. I asked Burroughs if we could expect in years to come wrestling coaches showing their kids a “Jordan Burroughs double.” He thought it would be perfect.
Minutes later he had an Associated Press writer and cameraman asking him to show them the move right there in the conference room with their camera rolling. And with the gold medal still dangling around his neck, he just about put Manning on the ground in front of them. But held off, simply describing it as “basically just a tackle” and showing them what he does in slow-mo.
Burroughs is in unique position to transcend the sport of wrestling in the future possibly beyond what any American wrestler ever has. Time will certainly tell what his legacy will be like. And wrestling fans have the rare treat of having a front-row seat to the making of a legend right in front of us.