Jordan Burroughs and wrestling have an intimate relationship, one that has created opportunities, provided support, crafted futures and opened doors to success.
It’s a relationship that has mutually benefitted both.
Burroughs is one of the most successful and decorated athletes in the sport, especially in the U.S. The New Jersey native is a 6x World Champion and a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist. Before he turned pro, Burroughs was a state champion who went to Nebraska and became a 3x Big 12 champion, two-time NCAA champion, Hodge Trophy winner and another important figure in the sport’s rich tradition with Black collegiate athletes.
He loves the sport and what it has done for him, particularly as a young Black boy competing in a sport that wasn’t considered cool.
“It’s been a really cool experience for me because although I grew up in the suburbs, I come from a predominantly Black neighborhood and wrestling wasn’t cool where I was from,” said Burroughs.
Jordan not only found wrestling cool, he made it cool for kids who look like him through his hard work, successful career and events like Beat The Streets (BTS).
On Saturday, BTS will take over the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, which is Burrough’s home state and exactly the type of city that Beat The Streets was created for.
The organization, which Burroughs fully supports and believes in, uses wrestling to empower urban youth in major cities across the country.
“I love what they do as an organization,” said Burroughs. “Beat The Streets has been an integral part of my development as an athlete because I was on the cutting edge when this organization started.”
The gold medalist has competed in 11 BTS events across the country, only missing two.
“I’ve worked with not only Beat The Streets New York, but I’ve done clinics and worked closely with Beat The Street Cleveland, Baltimore, LA, Detroit, Chicago and now Philadelphia, which is my home.”
His impact at BTS is obvious and now that he’s competing at the event in his home state, Burroughs can expect an emotional hero’s welcome, especially since he hasn’t wrestled competitively in New Jersey since 2008, when he was a sophomore at the University of Nebraska.
“It’s special. It’s very special,” he said.
Burroughs has always participated in youth wrestling camps, particularly in his hometown area of south jersey. In 2022, he announced he was launching the “All I See Is Gold Academy” in the area.
“The great thing about it [wrestling and coaching] is I get to teach young Brown kids like me how cool wrestling is,” he said. “How it can change your life, the character development that it creates and the opportunities that it provides.”
It’s obvious how much he loves the sport and how the sport shaped his life, especially the way it gave him confidence and the inner strength he needed when the support around him wasn’t as prevalent. That’s what he experienced when he first arrived in Nebraska and realized he was no longer in a predominantly Black community.
But wrestling stepped in and “taught me to become a man,” said Burroughs.
And once he manned up and started to exert his dominance at the collegiate level, he realized what integrity, honor and success could do for him.
“If you can be a champion, people will respect you.”
That respect will be on full display Saturday afternoon in the Prudential Center when Burroughs takes the mat in New Jersey for the first time in 15 years.
His homecoming comes at a time when he’s reflecting on how much time he has left in his professional wrestling career.
But it also comes at a time when he is starting to pass the traditions and lessons learned from wrestling to his son.
Jordan Burroughs’ emotional return to New Jersey as a competitor is another example of what wrestling means to its athletes, and how impactful Beat The Streets is to all it comes in contact with.
And that includes an Olympic Gold Medalist.
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