Lee Kemp, one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the history of the sport, has joined the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater wrestling staff.
"What an opportunity for UW Whitewater and our wrestlers and staff," UW-W head coach Tim Fader said. "I am really excited for the Warhawk wrestlers in our program. This is a chance for our guys to really learn and take from one of the best wrestlers our country has ever had. I have the opportunity to hear Lee speak and relate to younger wrestlers and have always been impressed. He has coached at the highest level of our sport. He is more than "just interested" in topics that can make a difference in a college wrestling career -- nutrition, technique, motivation and preparation. I am excited to be around that level of knowledge and that type of success and achievement. He is a very sincere and inspiring person and we welcome Lee Kemp to our program," Fader added.
Kemp's resume' is so extensive that his name transcends the sport of wrestling.
His collegiate career came just 45 miles from Whitewater at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kemp went 143-6-1 for the Badgers, with five of those losses coming in his freshman year. His first year accomplishments included a win over Dan Gable and a second place finish in the NCAA championship. He lost the championship match on a split referee's decision in overtime. That would be Kemp's only loss in NCAA championship competition as he won titles in 1976, 1977 and 1978. His 39-0-0 record in 1976 was the only undefeated season in Division I wrestling. He went 103 consecutive matches without a loss (sixth best ever), and 87 in a row without a loss or tie (fourth best ever). Kemp was a three-time Big Ten champion, and three time Midlands Tournament winner.
Kemp's international career spanned the globe. He won three world championships (Mexico City 1978, San Diego 1979, Alberta, Canada 1982), the first coming at the age of 21, just after finishing college and the youngest American to win a world or Olympic title at the time. Kemp added gold medal honors in World Cup competition four years in a row (1979-82), the first American to accomplish that feat. He also won Pan American Games gold medals in 1979 and 1984, as well as seven national championships (Amateur Athletic Union and United States Wrestling Federation). He was selected for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, but the U.S. boycotted the games in Moscow, Russia (USSR at the time).
His coaching career, like his competitive career, came at the highest levels of the sport. Kemp coached the U.S. freestyle team that competed in the 2007 World Championship in China, coach the U.S. freestyle team at the World Junior Championship in 2007 in Beijing, China, and he was the head coach of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Beijing.
Kemp's honors and awards, just the highlights, include some of the most coveted in sport. Amateur Wrestling News named him the Outstanding Freshman in 1975 and the Outstanding Sophomore in 1976. The same publication honored him on the "Post 1958 Era All-Time Collegiate Wrestling Team". He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1989, one of six hall of fame selections he has earned. That group includes the George Martin Wrestling Hall of Fame (1983) in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame (2009), and the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame, conferred during the 2008 Olympics. He was named the United States Wrestling Federation Man of the Year in 1978, and was a two time finalist for the Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States.
"Five years ago I made an important decision to get back into wrestling and use my background and experience in wrestling and nutrition to make a positive impact on the athletes I was working with," said Kemp. "I really enjoy getting on the mat and working with the athletes, and realize that I have lot to give and share. I believe the timing is perfect for me to connect with UW Whitewater and do what I can to help them win big."
Kemp's unique abilities will be shared in a weekly learning moment that will include training tips, motivation and inspiration elements. The sessions, just ten minutes long, will be held at 2:30 every Tuesday from now through December 13 in the upper lobby of Williams Center on the UW-W campus . Everyone -- UW-W athletes, UW-W students, fans, members of the community, is welcome to attend the free sessions.
"Lee Kemp brings world class insight to the wrestling program at UW-Whitewater. His background and experiences will make an immediate impact on our team," UW-W athletic director Paul Plinske noted. "I'm especially excited about the work that Lee will be doing with all of our programs. His weekly thoughts on training for peak performance will be shared with all of our student-athletes. Many will benefit as we strive to establish championship performances in our program," said Plinske.
Kemp is the proud father of three children, Jordan (18), Mercedes (17), and Adam (11).
The UW-Whitewater wrestling team placed third in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last year and twenty-ninth in the NCAA Division III championship. The Warhawks will open the season with a quad meet at UW-Madison November 13 that also includes Northern Illinois and Loras. The first home appearance of the season will be November 17 at 7:00 with UW-La Crosse visiting Williams Center.