Wrestling Star Jordan Burroughs Looks to Win Big in Rio | NBC 10 Philadelphia
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The Rio Olympics Seen Through the Lens of College Sports

Wrestling Star Jordan Burroughs Looks to Win Big in Rio

Former University of Nebraska star Jordan Burroughs is chasing his second Olympic gold medal

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    Andrew Howe and Jordan Burroughs compete in the 74kg championship match during day 2 of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Wrestling Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on April 10, 2016 in Iowa City, Iowa.

    Jordan Burroughs does not lack confidence — or ambition.

    "I want to have exceptional goals," the Olympic wrestler said in a sponsored video posted on TeamUSA.org, the official website of the U.S. Olympic committee. In another, he said he wanted "to be the best wrestler of all-time."

    The reigning Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling, Burroughs, 28, is one of the favorites to win big in Rio.

    He is not shying away from those expectations. Rather, Burroughs is embracing them — and the work required for ultimate success.

    "You’re capable of doing amazing things," Burroughs told USA Today Sports. "I wasn’t groomed or created to be this until I realized that I could be this. And I just started working my butt off, and all [of a] sudden I started winning. And I haven’t looked back."

    Just ask Mark Manning, who will coach Burroughs and the U.S. freestyle team in the Rio Games.

    "Jordan and I have been together for a long time," Manning told the Lincoln Journal-Star, before adding, "With Jordan, we will stick to our plan and keep working, building his arsenal and helping any way we can. Not that he needs much motivation from anybody, because he is so determined to win this year and compete in the 2020 [Summer] Olympics [in Tokyo, Japan]."

    Manning knows what he's talking about. He coached Burroughs at the University of Nebraska, where his star pupil won NCAA Championships in 2009 and 2011. Since leaving Nebraska, Burroughs has added three world championships to his Olympic gold medal.

    "In the wrestling world, Jordan Burroughs is [Cleveland Cavaliers star] LeBron James. He’s [Golden State Warriors star Stephen] Curry. Everyone knows who Jordan Burroughs is, and he’s been wrestling with a target on him for a while, and people adapt. You never get used to the target, but it’s more natural for Jordan to know he’s the heavy favorite and everyone expects his best," Manning told the Omaha World-Herald in April.

    "It’s going to be fun when he looks back 20 years from now at the legacy he’s left. But we’re in the midst of that right now, so it’s about just staying on that ride and taking each year for what it’s worth," he added.

    Perhaps it is Burroughs who best summarized his "legacy" after qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Team at the Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City.

    "The difference between legends and just great athletes is consistency. I really prepare for these moments," Burroughs told The Associated Press.

    "The approach has always been to be the best in the world, one of the best ever," he continued.

    Still, his greatness won’t transition to a post-amateur wrestling career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Burroughs told FoxSports.com in September 2015 he "won’t ever join" the UFC.

    It's a surprising stance since Burroughs' wrestling acumen could be monetized by the UFC. So why would he pass up the opportunity at, potentially, a lucrative job as a professional mixed martial artist?  

    "It's never been my passion to pursue the UFC or that I like to fight. I don't think many guys like to fight, but it's everything that surrounds success in the UFC. It's notoriety, it's the celebrities sitting ringside in Vegas, it's financial incentive, it's being labeled as the toughest guy in the world and being respected and heralded on such a high level, but for me I'm passionate about the sport of wrestling. I want to win another gold medal," Burroughs said.

    "I'm doing well financially. I think a lot of guys get out of wrestling for financial incentive to go to the UFC, but I'm doing well. I've got a home, I've got a wife, I've got everything I need," he said. "So realistically, I don't need to join the UFC for anything other than I'm passionate about it, which I'm not. So I'll just sit back from afar and enjoying watching it but not participating."

    Rivals in Rio includes only schools that participate in the Nissan College 100 program.