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Olympic hopeful Winn signs fight contract with Zinkin

Deron Winn, junior college wrestling champ who hopes to wrestle for the U.S. freestyle team at the 2016 Olympics, has signed a contract with Zinkin Entertainment, an organization that represents a number of former mat stars entering mixed martial arts competition.

Deron Winn comes out onto the mat for his semifinal match at the U.S. Open (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Winn shared the news on his Facebook account Monday, writing, "I am so very pleased to announce that I have just signed with the best fight management team in the business, Zinkin Entertainment! I can't wait to beat people up for a living wink emoticon!"

Winn made clear that he intends to explore an MMA career after next summer's Olympics. "I have recently made the decision that I am going to pursue being a world champion in mixed martial arts after I finish my quest of being an Olympic Champion this summer in Rio."

In the opening paragraphs of his announcement, Winn shared how the sport of wrestling has been his passion in life, and has helped shape him into the man he is today, concluding that section of his message, "Thus far I have had an amazing career and plan on adding to that after I make the Olympic Team this spring!"

"With all of that being said, I have recently been presented with an amazing opportunity for my future that I could not turn away," the Olympic hopeful continued. "Just a few weeks back I went to train in San Jose at AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) with the UFC light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier. Before going there I would say I had little to no interest in being a professional fighter. After I training MMA (mixed martial arts) for about a week my interest skyrocketed."

It was after spending time with Cormier -- an NCAA finalist as an Oklahoma State wrestler, and two-time Olympic freestyle wrestler -- Winn decided to explore the possibility of an MMA career after the Olympics… and signed with Zinkin, which represents, among others, Cormier.

At its website, Zinkin Entertainment and Sports Management describes itself as "dedicated to the sport professional mixed martial arts (MMA)." Among the individuals listed at the website which Zinkin trains and manages: Cain Velasquez, Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Luke Rockhold, Aaron Pico, and many other fighters. Zinkin's fighters compete in the UFC, ONE Fighting Championship, Bellator Fighting Championships, World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and other promotions.

Winn was a three-time Missouri state wrestling champ for Liberty High School outside Kansas City. He then enrolled at St. Louis Community College, Meramec where he was a two-time NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) champ. At the 2008 NJCAA Nationals, Winn was presented with the Most Outstanding Wrestler Award. He attended Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. for one year, earning All-American honors, then moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. More recently, Winn has been training at the Cyclone Wrestling Club, affiliated with Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, and is competing in men's freestyle at 86 kilos/189 pounds.

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