PC: Tony Rotundo

From Small-Town Kid to Wrestling Superstar: J’den Cox


In the world of wrestling, there’s a superstar named J’den Cox whose story is incredible. His journey from a small Missouri town to becoming a world champion is inspiring.

J’den Cox, born in 1995 in Columbia, Missouri, started wrestling when he was just four years old. He was a natural talent, and it didn’t take long for him to start winning competitions. He teamed up with coach Mike Eierman in 2006, and continued until 2018 when Cox headed to the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

At Hickman High School, Cox managed to become a 4x Missouri state champion, and did something even rarer by winning the titles in four different weight classes. His high school record was crazy, with 205 wins and only 3 losses.

Cox also excelled on the national stage. He won the Fargo National Championship in Greco-Roman wrestling in 2011 and secured third place in freestyle, both in the cadet division. He also wrestled against future World Champion Kyle Snyder (little did he know, this was the start of a rivalry that would grow into infamy).

High School Achievements:
– 1st Place MSHSAA Championship (2011, 2012, 2013)
– Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award (2013)
– NHSCA Adam Frey Memorial Award (2013)

Cox’s journey continued in college, where he wrestled for the Missouri Tigers. What’s crazy is that he didn’t wait for anything. He wrestled at 197 lbs, and right from the beginning, in his first year, he became a national champion, an incredible feat as a true freshman. This made him the 14th true freshman national champion in NCAA Division 1 history.

In the following years, Cox continued to succeed. He became an All-American and finished fifth in the NCAA Championships. He then secured another national title in 2016. He became the second two-time national champion in University of Missouri history.

In 2017, Cox finished his college career with a third national championship. He finished his collegiate wrestling era as the first three-time national champion in the program’s history. He set records for the highest winning percentage (.965) and the second-most wins in the program (136–5).

College Achievements:
– NCAA D1 All-American (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
– MAC Wrestler of the Year (2014, 2016, 2017)
– MAC Freshmen of the Year (2014)
– 1st Place NCAA D1 Championship (2014, 2016, 2017)
– 5th Place NCAA D1 Championship (2015)
– 1st Place MAC Championship (2014, 2015, 2016)

Cox’s wrestling wasn’t limited to college. He also went into freestyle wrestling. Despite being an underdog for the 86kg category, he made his senior-level debut, making the 2016 US Olympic Team. At the Summer Olympics, he won a bronze medal. Cox has dominated in freestyle wrestling, earning three World Championships and becoming a big name in international wrestling.

– Team USA World Team Member (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022)
– 1st Place World Championships (2018, 2019)
– 1st Place Pan American Championships (2019)

– 2nd place World Championships (2022)
– 3rd Place Summer Olympics (2016)
– 3rd Place World Championships (2017, 2021)

Cox’s Hearing Loss

J’den Cox’s story isn’t just about wrestling. He’s also an advocate for the deaf and hearing-impaired community.

He doesn’t know how his hearing loss started. Because his father had been partially hearing impaired, doctors believed that it was a genetic condition. His sophomore year in college, he started losing the hearing in his left ear. He recounted experiencing dizzy spells and not being able to go up elevators or stairs – “I would start feeling like the world was shifting. I was freaking out about it.”

Cox started taking ASL (American Sign Language) classes to try to learn how to communicate, which was inspiring for him. He found more inspiration in his ASL teacher who was deaf but still led a great life.

He has used his social media to create a bridge of communication for his hearing-impaired fans. “I can’t complain, because all of the things that have come from it have been so amazing,” Cox said in an interview. “I’ve gotten to experience a whole different world. There’s nothing wrong, there’s just more to be explored, more to be done, more to see.” He uses his platform to educate and spreads positive messages. He teaches ASL on his social media, 5 signs every Wednesday and Saturday.

Here, Cox is pictured with part of the 2019 world team showcasing ASL words.

“In talking about these things – the battles I’ve had with myself, seeking help, going into therapy – I can be a voice to say that you’re worth it. That you’re enough. That you’re beautiful and capable of making it through anything. That’s what I want you to understand.”

J’den Cox’s journey from a small town to wrestling fame is amazing. His story inspires us to believe that with dedication and compassion, anyone – from anywhere – can achieve greatness.

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