Olympic Wrestling 2012: Jordan Burroughs Only US Man to Win in Fighting Sports

Darin PikeContributor IAugust 10, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10:  Jordan Ernest Burroughs of the United States celebrates his gold medal in the Men's Freestyle 74 kg Wrestling on Day 14 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 10, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
Feng Li/Getty Images

The 2012 Summer Olympics have been particularly frustrating for the men from the United States. Nowhere is that more evident than in the fighting sports—boxing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling.

Coming into Day 13, the men had exactly one medal in these sports, courtesy of a bronze medal in taekwondo.

Jordan Burroughs showed that an American can still be dominant on the international stage. He won a gold medal and was clearly better than every competitor who stepped on the mat with him, although Russia's Denis Tsargush gave him a good fight.

But the rest of the American field? They aren't even close.

Here's a look at a few of the specifics for the fighting events.



The U.S. and Cuba have traditionally been staunch competitors in Olympic boxing. The Americans came into London with a commanding 109-62 all-time edge over the second-place country.

But only one U.S. boxer, Erroll Spence, had a winning record in London. He lost his welterweight quarterfinals fight 11-16 to Andrey Zamkovoy of Russia.

In total the U.S. was 4-2 in the Round of 32, 1-6 in the Round of 16 and 0-1 in the quarterfinals.

After managing just a single bronze medal in Beijing, the men managed to do even worse in London.



The U.S. isn't a traditional power in judo. The men are tied for 10th with nine total medals and no Olympic champions.

The U.S. men were shutout in 2012. 



The United States entered the London Olympics as the all-time wrestling medal leader among active countries. The leader is the United Soviet Socialist Republic, who had 132 total medals.

The United States has a deficit of 10 to take over the top spot. At this pace, they might surpass the former USSR in 2052.

I did it! 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist! twitter.com/alliseeisgold/…

— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) August 10, 2012

With nine weight classes complete (seven Greco-Roman and two freestyle), the only American medal is Burroughs' gold.

Freestyle wrestling has five more weight classes left, but the Americans aren't a favorite to medal in any of them.



Terrence Jennings picked up a bronze medal for the U.S. Their other competitor, Steven Lopez, lost his first fight.


There are many potential reasons why the American men are struggling on the international stage.

The best athletes are likely being attracted to professional sports with higher paydays and less risk of permanent injury. Part of the explanation no doubt lies in improved international training leading to increased competition.

The growth of mixed martial arts in professional and amateur levels could also be having an impact.

But while some fighters may be choosing to forgo the Olympic sports and compete in MMA at an early age, those aspiring for an MMA career should take notice of the training opportunities in the traditional disciplines.

Many successful MMA fighters have transitioned from the other arts. They've taken advantage of the coaching and training facilities available to Olympic-hopeful athletes.

That is exactly the track Burroughs has in front of himself. He plans on making a profession of the MMA after winning a gold medal in the Rio Games.

The U.S. Olympic Committee needs to step back and look at the struggles the American men are having on the international stage.

They need to find a way of tapping young talent and growing participation in the traditional Olympic events or the American status at the Olympics will be similar to that of the USSR—a former superpower.