Wrestling world mourns loss of Brian Keck

Brian Keck

The tributes started flooding social media late in the day on Monday.

Gentle giant.

Trusted teammate.

Caring mentor.

Loyal friend.

Brian Keck was all of those. And much more.

The wrestling world lost a truly good dude when Keck passed away over the weekend. He was 48 years old.

The stunning news of his death swept across the wrestling world Monday with numerous photos of Keck posted on Facebook. I didn't recall seeing a photo where he didn't have a smile on his face.

Keck loved life and he was someone I considered a friend. He had a long list of friends because of the generous and caring person he was. That was evident to anyone who attended one of the many gatherings he hosted at his house in Colorado Springs.

Only Brian Keck could pull off a Hooters girl costume at a Halloween party he hosted. It was classic Keck all the way. It certainly had everyone laughing that night.

He was a tough guy on the mat, but a big teddy bear off it. He was one of the nicest guys in the sport. And he had a big heart. He would help anyone who needed it.

Brian Keck with Rulon Gardner
Keck made great contributions to the sport of wrestling. He excelled at the collegiate level and became a top American heavyweight at the international level. He was a strong, physical wrestler who was difficult to score on.

He won his share of matches at the Senior level in an era of top American heavyweights. For many years, he was stuck behind guys like Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner and World silver medalist Kerry McCoy when he competed.

Keck was highly ranked in the U.S., but never made a World or Olympic Team. He excelled in both freestyle and Greco-Roman on the Senior level. He won the 1999 Vantaa Cup Greco title in Finland. Four years later, he won the Pan American Championships freestyle title in Guatemala.

He had a unique physique with big shoulders that earned him the nickname of "No Neck Keck."

Brian went on to coach collegiately in addition to working with top MMA fighters in Las Vegas. He mentored and developed his share of athletes who excelled in wrestling and mixed martial arts.

He also ran a number of successful wrestling tournaments in recent years. His tournaments drew huge numbers of participants at the youth, developmental and high school levels.

Brian also had his share of extravagant tastes. He lived in a beautiful house in the Colorado mountains and at one time drove a sweet yellow Hummer that would catch everyone's eye.

He later relocated to San Diego and also lived in Las Vegas.

Many people didn't know it, but Keck was an excellent golfer with a low handicap. And he was a big fan of his beloved Cleveland Browns. That was something all who knew him definitely were aware of.

There was something most of us who knew Keck could certainly agree on. He was a down-to-earth guy who loved wrestling and enjoyed a good conversation with people. And he could always make you smile.

I remember the last time I saw him. I was covering the World Cup last year in Iowa City. Brian looked great and looked much lighter than he did during his heavyweight days.

He talked to me about partnering with him on a project he was going to pursue and then he made a funny comment that had us both laughing as we parted ways.

It's still difficult to believe he's gone.

Brian Keck made friends wherever he went. He was a friendly, outgoing guy who had a zest for life.

A life that was cut short way too soon.

Craig Sesker has written about wrestling for more than three decades. He's covered three Olympic Games and is a two-time national wrestling writer of the year.


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AO_CoachPhil (1) about 1 year ago
Still can't believe this guy is gone. Last time I saw him, he introduced me to sing the National Anthem at Pre-Season. I almost couldn't sing for laughing. "We've got a special treat for you, Does everyone know who J'den Cox is? (crowd goes wild) Well he's not here to sing but at least we got his uncle"...... RIP Brian, you're a class act, indeed.