Kevin Jackson Named ISU Head Wrestling Coach
AMES, Iowa – Former Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Champion Kevin Jackson has been named Iowa State’s head wrestling coach. Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard will introduce Jackson – often referred to as one of the greatest freestyle wrestlers in United States history – at an 11 a.m. news conference Friday in the Jacobson Athletic Building (Hunziker Auditorium).
Jackson captured gold medals at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain and at the World Championships in both 1991 (Varna, Bulgaria) and 1995 (Atlanta). He is one of just five wrestlers in U.S. history with three career world-level titles. Jackson is a member of the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame, the United States National Wrestling Hall of Fame (as a distinguished member) and the Iowa State University Athletics Hall of Fame (2007 inductee).
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“We are very excited to welcome Kevin back to the Cyclone family,” Pollard said. “He was captain of the last Cyclone national championship team and is a member of our Athletics Department’s Hall of Fame. His competitive intensity, combined with his technical skills as a coach, will make an immediate impact on our wrestling program. For the last decade, Kevin has coached and trained the best United States wrestlers. He has excelled at the highest levels of international wrestling as both an athlete and coach.”
Jackson’s return to Iowa State brings back fond memories for him.
“Winning a national team championship at ISU remains a career highlight and I’m grateful for the opportunity to come back to Ames and lead such a distinguished program,” Jackson said. “There is no ceiling to what we can accomplish on and off the mat at Iowa State and I couldn’t be more excited to get started. I’m pleased to inherit such an outstanding team and we’ll begin immediately to focus on hard work and technique with the goal of competing for the NCAA title. We’ll build a wrestling environment at Iowa State in which our student-athletes will flourish in and our fans will respond.”
Currently head coach of the Sunkist youth development program, Jackson served eight years (2001-08) as the National Freestyle Coach for USA Wrestling. He was the first full-time freestyle wrestling coach for the organization and took two United States’ teams to the Olympics. Two of his athletes – Cael Sanderson (2004) and Henry Cejudo (2008) – won gold medals. His 2001 freestyle team won the World Cup, the 2003 team placed second and the 2006 squad finished third at that meet.
Prior to his appointment as the nation’s head freestyle coach, Jackson was freestyle resident coach at the Olympic Training Center and head coach for the U.S. Army team at Fort Carson (1998-2001). During that tenure, he personally trained 2000 Olympic champion Brandon Slay.
As a college wrestler, he attended Louisiana State and earned All-America honors three times before the school dropped the sport. He transferred to Iowa State for his senior year and captained the Cyclones’ last NCAA championship team (1987), earning another All-America award with a NCAA runner-up finish and registering a 30-3-1 record.
After college, Jackson won two Pan American Games titles and was a member of World Championship teams for the United States in both 1993 and 1995. He won three U.S. National Titles and placed second five times. Jackson also became the first American to win the prestigious Takhti Cup (1998) in Tehran, Iran.
During his post-collegiate competitive career, Jackson also assisted with the Cyclone Wrestling Club (1989-92) and volunteered with the Arizona State (1997) program.
Jackson’s success earned him a number of major awards, including the 1995 John Smith Award as National Freestyle Wrestler of the Year, 1992 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year and 1991 USA Wrestling and USOC Wrestler of the Year.
He earned a bachelor of sports science degree from the U.S. Sports Academy / University of Americas in 2005.
The native of Lansing, Mich., won two state high school championships for Eastern High School before becoming a Junior National Greco-Roman champion.
Jackson and his wife, Robin (a native of Emmetsburg, Iowa), have five children: Cole, Bailee, Trinity, Brynn and Kira.