Amateur wrestling champion Kenneth Dale "Kenny" Monday was born in Tulsa on November 25, 1961. Monday was a 1980 graduate of Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School and a 1984 graduate of Oklahoma State University (OSU). Competing in the 163-pound weight class, he was a three-time Olympian and the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling. He is currently one of four American wrestlers who have won the Junior Nationals, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships, the World Championships, and the Olympic Games.
In 1980 Monday became Oklahoma's first high school wrestler to win four state titles (in four different weight classes) while going undefeated. He finished his prep career with a record of 140 wins, no losses, and one draw. The tie was against Mike Sheets of Tahlequah, a future two-time national champion at OSU. Monday also won five Junior Olympic titles and the 1977 Junior Nationals.
Monday's grappling success continued at OSU, where he compiled a record of 121 victories, twelve losses, and two draws. Competing at 150 pounds, he was a three-time All-American who captured two Big Eight Conference crowns, finished second at the NCAA championships in 1982 and 1983, and won the NCAA tournament as a senior in 1984.
A four-time U.S. Nationals champion, Monday won major international tournaments in Russia, Turkey, France, and Bulgaria, the World Championships (1989), and the Pan American Games (1991). In 1988 he won an Olympic gold medal at Seoul, South Korea, by defeating world champion Adlan Varaev of the Soviet Union in overtime. Monday placed second at the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona, Spain, losing 1-0 to Park Jang-Soon of South Korea, and retired after finishing sixth at the Atlanta Games in 1996.
Kenny Monday was named Athlete of the Year by USA Wrestling in 1988, and Man of the Year by the Amateur Wrestling News in 1989. Represented in both the National Wrestling (2001) and Oklahoma Sports (2003) halls of fame, he resided in Garland, Texas, in 2002.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Kenny Monday," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Jon D. May
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