2021 USA Wrestling Olympic Team Trials Watch Party

Kevin Jackson on J'den Cox Saga: 'We're Not Giving Up'

Kevin Jackson on J'den Cox Saga: 'We're Not Giving Up'

Two-time World champ J’den Cox is pursuing steps to get back into the Olympic Trials after being removed from the 97 kg bracket for missing weight Friday.

Apr 2, 2021 by Andy Hamilton
Kevin Jackson on J'den Cox Saga: 'We're Not Giving Up'
Two-time World champion J’den Cox is pursuing steps to get back into the Olympic Trials after being removed from the 97-kilogram bracket Friday morning when he did not make weight by the 8 a.m. deadline. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Two-time World champion J’den Cox is pursuing steps to get back into the Olympic Trials after being removed from the 97-kilogram bracket Friday morning when he did not make weight by the 8 a.m. deadline. 

“We’re not giving up,” Cox’s coach, Kevin Jackson, wrote in a text message. “Working on it.”

Cox earned an automatic pass to Friday night’s Challenge Tournament semifinals by virtue of winning a 2019 World title at the non-Olympic 92-kilogram class. He opted to move up to 97 kilograms for the Olympic Trials rather than cutting back down to 86 kg, where he captured an Olympic bronze in 2016, and there were questions coming into the year about whether Cox would grow into men’s freestyle wrestling’s second-biggest weight class. 

It’s unclear what led to his difficulties Friday at the scale. 

“I haven’t talked to J’den,” USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender said. “It’s really, really hard to get your head around it, right? It’s heartbreaking, but you’ve been around this sport for a long time and weigh-ins are part of our sport. I don’t have the facts to tell you that this is what happened. I wasn’t there. I was told that at 8 o’clock he wasn’t at 97 kilos or below.”

This isn’t the first time a prominent wrestler has missed weight at the Olympic Trials. Rulon Gardner, who went on to win an Olympic gold in 2000, was too late to the scale for the 1996 Olympic Trials. 

Cox’s hopes of getting back into the tournament now hinge on winning an appeal. 

“There’s a process that exists for all athletes,” Bender said. “It starts now with a tournament committee that’s hearing his appeal right now and ultimately they have the authority to make a decision. I suspect they’re going to render a decision pretty quickly.”