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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Cox Named USA Wrestling's National Freestyle Development and Resident Coach

    J’den Cox of Ypsilanti, Mich. has been named the new National Freestyle Development and Resident Coach for USA Wrestling, the national governing body for wrestling in the United States.

    In this position, Cox will coordinate U.S. Pan American and World Teams at the U15, U17 and U20 levels. He will also manage USA Wrestling’s Elite U20 Resident Program, which will train at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He will work directly with National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick and Manager of Freestyle Programs Joe Russell on many other projects as part of USA Wrestling’s professional national freestyle coaching staff.

    “I was overjoyed and overcome with emotion. Being able to find this opportunity was overwhelming. It is a great position, and anybody who is somebody should want to be in this position. The legacy that has been building around USA Wrestling, the bar that has been raised in freestyle wrestling, is amazing. I am honored to be in a position to help young men develop as people, first and foremost becoming great men, and then as athletes. I am excited to get to work and have an effect on the future of USA Wrestling,” said Cox.

    Cox comes to USA Wrestling after completing one of the greatest freestyle wrestling careers of his generation. He won two Senior World titles (2018, 2019), a 2016 Olympic bronze medal, a 2022 World silver medal and two World bronze medals (2017, 2021). He was a member of two Senior World Championship Teams, at the 2017 World Championships in Paris, France and the 2022 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

    He blasted onto the World scene in 2016, after winning the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City, Iowa at 86 kg. Cox qualified the weight class for the Rio Olympic Games a few weeks later, placing first in an Olympic Qualification Tournament in Mongolia. Among his other major international titles were Pan American Championships gold medals in 2019 and 2022 and the 2019 Yasar Dogu International in Turkey. Cox retired from competition during the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in State College, Pa.

    “What an exciting time for USA Wrestling and our Men’s Freestyle Development athletes!  I’m extremely excited to work with J’den Cox as he starts this position.  For me, it’s awesome to see J’den come full circle.  I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world with him to some of the biggest events in our sport from his first in qualifying his Olympic weight in 2016 to his Olympic medal and then on to multiple World Championship medals!  J’den will bring a very caring, passionate and growth mindset to the young men that he will work with. His elite level knowledge on the mat and in training will ramp up the learning experience for our development pipeline, but the true impact he will have on these young men’s lives are immeasurable,” said Cody Bickley, USA Wrestling Director of National Teams High Performance.

    “It’s my honor to welcome the addition of J’den Cox to the USA Wrestling Men’s Freestyle staff as our National Developmental Coach. In his competitive career, as both a NCAA Champion and as a Senior Men’s Freestyle wrestler, he has proven himself to be one of the best in U.S. & USA Wrestling history. J’den will bring a fresh perspective, having been recently an athlete, along with an attitude of continued learning. The developmental pipeline is of great importance to our sustained success in USA Wrestling Men’s Freestyle Wrestling. I am confident he will adapt to this new role applying his attitude and perspectives to make a positive impact on USA Wrestling’s elite age-group athletes, our resident Olympic Training Center program, and the entire USA Wrestling developmental pipeline.  It’s my pleasure to welcome J’den, Whitney, and their children to the USA Wrestling family,” said Bill Zadick, USA Wrestling’s National Freestyle Coach.

    Cox served as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Missouri under legendary coach Brian Smith in 2017, working with the heavyweight wrestlers. He has served as a technician for wrestling camps for eight years, running his own camps for youth from kindergarten to high school, focusing on both wrestling skills and life skills including personal and emotional growth and business skills.

    He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Missouri in 2017. Cox has served as advisory counsel member of Wrestle Like a Girl, Advocacy Director for the Black Wrestling Association and a commentator for ESPN for two NCAA Wrestling Championships.

    A native of Columbia, Mo., Cox won four Missouri state high school titles for Hickman High School, each at a different weight class. He won two age-group national titles while in high school. He went on to have one of the greatest careers for the University of Missouri as a three-time NCAA champion (2014, 2016, 2017) and a four-time All-American.

    Cox is looking forward to sharing his experiences as an World-class athlete with the nation’s elite young wrestlers who have set high goals for their themselves both on and off the mat.

    “It is important to give them realistic views of what it is like, to start them early to know what it takes to get where they want to be. I will be showing them the path that allows them to do it with passion and love, fun and drive. It is not just a couple hours on the mat. It is how you carry yourself around others, it’s how you present yourself in life. I always use the quote, ‘show them the love.’ When you love something, there is nothing you wouldn’t do to make sure it is done right. That means you have to diet right, you have to live your life right, your relationships have to be right. Everything is encompassed with you being the best, so you can then focus on being the best in the room. My philosophy is working with these youth as people first. It is awesome to take that role to be a mentor, a coach, to guide the young ones to be the best of their ability,” said Cox.

    Cox will be working with Bill Zadick and Joe Russell, who were part of the coaching team that supported him when he was a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.

    “It is a great opportunity to learn. I have been involved from the athletic side of things. To be on the coaching side in a leadership role is different. Change is good. I am good at adjusting and adapting. I look forward to the opportunity to get to learn from great minds like Coach Zadick and Coach Russell and to take in the experience they received and apply it to my philosophies and my program,” said Cox.  

    Cox and his wife Whitney, who was a five-time U.S. Senior World Team member in women’s freestyle, have two children, Zoi and Feinx. He will start with USA Wrestling in late July.

    “Being able to come back home will be fun. I do consider it my home. It is the first place since I left Columbia, Mo. and established a home base and really grew as an athlete and as a person. I am looking forward to going back there and sharing it with my family,” said Cox.

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