Columbia, Missouri native J'den Cox entered the Olympic Trials for American wrestling this past weekend as a longshot in the 86 kilogram freestyle division, coming off his second NCAA Championship win in his junior season at Mizzou.
A low seed, Cox defeated number one seed Jake Herbert in his second match. In the finals, Cox met Kyle Dake in a best two-out-of-three match up. Dake won four NCAA titles for Cornell University and is the only wrestler to accomplish the feat of winning four titles in four weight classes.
In the first match, Cox posted a dominant 8-1 win. Dake came back in the second match and beat Cox 5-3. In the rubber match to take it all, Cox won a hard fought match 4-3. Cox being the naturally bigger man proved to be too big and strong for Dake in addition to holding a speed advantage.
The United States hasn't qualified the 86 kilogram freestyle weight class for the Rio Olympics yet. So now Cox must go to Mongolia in two weeks and finish in the top three of competition there in order to qualify. If Cox fails to finish in the top three in Mongolia, he'll have an opportunity in Turkey in May where he'll have to finish in the top two. If Cox fails to do either, the United States won't be represented in the Rio Olympics at that weight class.
On the Greco-Roman side, the Mango brothers, who grew up in north St. Louis County, competed. Two-time Olympian Spenser Mango (CBC High School, Northern Michigan University, and United States Army) fell short in his attempt to make his third Olympic team. In the tradition of the sport, Spenser removed his shoes in the middle of the mat announcing his retirement. Ryan Mango (Whitfield High School and Stanford University) also fell short in his quest to make the Olympic team.
Charles Martin crushed in London
Two major events happened this weekend in the world of boxing. Only one involved a native St. Louisan and led to the creation of a new star in professional boxing. The other event, of course, was Manny Pacquiao defeating Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas during their third meeting and allegedly Pacquiao's last bout as a professional prizefighter.
Meanwhile, across the pond at the O2 Arena in London, England, St. Louis native Charles Martin defended his newly won International Boxing Federation championship in the heavyweight division against 2012 Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua.
The bout didn't go well for the American. In fact, the most impressive moment of the night for Martin was his ring entrance featuring a cape and a crown. As soon as the bell rang, Joshua found a home for his right hand. In the second round Joshua sent Martin to the canvas twice, and the referee called a halt to the bout.
Martin will now return to America to regroup under the guidance of his advisor Al Haymon, and Joshua is in line for big unification bouts with Deontay Wilder and the Tyson Fury – Wladimir Klitschko rematch winner.
Follow Umar Lee on Twitter @STLAbuBadu.