Greatest of all time. It’s a label reserved for a few, only the elite of the elite. That’s the category Jordan Burroughs just entered with his seventh World/Olympic title on Friday.
The New Jersey native started his career in elementary school in the town of Sicklerville, and over two decades later, he surpassed John Smith and Adeline Gray for the most World and Olympic gold medals won by a single wrestler in history. Burroughs' journey to this point included his fair share of ups and downs, of development and growth, but Burroughs hasn’t backed down from being one of the faces of the sport. His character and leadership, combined with his success, make him a true legend in the sport.
Here’s everything you need to know about Jordan Burroughs, a Nebraska alum, an Olympic champion, and, now, a 2022 World champion who made wrestling history.
Jordan Burroughs' biography: The early years
Jordan Burroughs started wrestling early.
By six years old, he was scrapping with other kids in the 45-pound weight class in New Jersey, taking his first steps towards becoming an icon in his chosen sport. But success didn’t come immediately for Burroughs. He famously fielded just one scholarship offer as a senior in high school, even after winning his district championship three times, winning regionals twice and capturing his first New Jersey state title in 2006 at 135 pounds. That offer came from a place Burroughs “never even bothered to locate on a map,” but a place that would become his home for four years of college and over a decade of senior level wrestling: The University of Nebraska.
Burroughs explains in his blog that he had interest from the University of Indiana as well, but he didn’t take any official recruiting trips, not even to Nebraska. He finished high school with his 115-20 career record, accepted his lone scholarship offer to become a Husker and moved himself out to Lincoln, Nebraska.
The college years
Freshman year (2006-2007)
Despite being ranked No. 7 in his weight class at 135 pounds at the end of his prep career, college wrestling was an adjustment for Burroughs. He notes that he was often homesick and had to battle for his starting spot that first year. Burroughs lost his freshman year wrestle-off at 141 pounds and 149 pounds to start the year and wouldn’t see varsity action until Jan. 5 when he earned the nod against Oregon State’s Derek Kipperberg at 149 pounds. Prior to that, Burroughs competed in open tournaments, notably finishing fourth in his amateur bracket at the Kaufman-Brand Open after a 6-2 performance in the fall event. His wins over Vince Salminen, Zach Randall, Matt Burns, Steve Clayberg, Ryan Etherton and Jeff Keske elevated him, but he would ultimately lose to his teammate Curtis Salazar in this bracket.
Neither Burroughs nor Salazar earned the start in the Huskers season opener against Virginia Tech though. Instead, that spot went to Robert Sanders who dropped that match in sudden victory. Sanders held down the starter spot at 149 pounds through the next several duals before Burroughs earned his opportunity against Oregon State. Despite losing that match against Derek Kipperberg, Burroughs maintained his role as a starter for the following dual against Hofstra where he took another loss, this time to Mike Parziale 10-6. Sanders slotted back in against Michigan, Iowa, Iowa State and Missouri where he went 1-3 over those four duals. Burroughs then reclaimed the starting spot against Oklahoma State, a dual where he earned his first collegiate victory. Thus began the Burroughs era at Nebraska.
Burroughs entered the 2007 Big 12 tournament as the No. 4 seed and earned a decision win against No. 5 Jackson, the same wrestler he beat in his first win as a Husker. A loss against Oklahoma’s Matt Storniolo sent Burroughs down to the consolation bracket, but he kept fighting and beat Josh Wagner of Missouri for third. Burroughs' performance in this tournament helped him earn a spot at NCAAs where he met the defending national champion, Dustin Schlatter of Minnesota, in the opening match. Burroughs pushed Schlatter, but the Gopher pulled out the win 3-2 to advance and ultimately take third while Burroughs finished 1-2 after a win over Matt Dunn of Columbia and a loss to Storniolo.
Dual Results from 2006-2007
- L — Derek Kipperberg, Oregon State (D: 8-6)
- L — Mike Parziale, Hofstra (D: 10-6)
- W — B.J. Jackson, Oklahoma State (10-5)
- L — Matt Storniolo, Oklahoma (D: 7-3)
- L — Schlatter, Minnesota (D: 9-6)
- W — Jeff Santo, Lehigh (TF: 19-3, 6:21)
- W — Mark Cartella, Drexel (D: 5-1)
- W — Rob Hitschler, Penn (MD: 19-7)
Big 12 Tournament
- W — B.J. Jackson, Oklahoma State (D: 3-1)
- L — Matt Storniolo, Oklahoma (D: 7-3)
- W — Josh Wagner, Missouri (MD: 16-6)
- L — Dustin Schlatter, Minnesota (D: 3-2)
- W — Matt Dunn, Columbia (D: 8-2)
- L — Matt Storniolo, Oklahoma (D: 6-1 OT)
Sophomore year (2007-2008)
This year, Burroughs left no doubt about his role at Nebraska. He won the wrestle-off against teammate Chris Hacker, topped his bracket at the Cowboy Open and finished second at the Kaufman-Brand Open, an improvement from his fourth-place finish the year before. His Las Vegas Invitation win in November brought national attention to the Husker, but he faced a tough opponent in his first dual post-tournament and dropped to rematch against Dustin Schlatter of Minnesota in a nail-bitter of a battle. Burroughs would not lose another match until the NCAA tournament semifinals.
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Burroughs' nearly flawless dual record helped him earn the top seed at the Big 12 tournament, and he secured his first conference title after back-to-back bonus point wins against Will Rowe of Oklahoma and Mitch Mueller of Iowa State. This level of dominance earned Burroughs Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament and showed just how much improvement this champion had made from one year prior when he ended his season just over .500.
As the No. 4 seed at the national tournament, Burroughs wrestled tough in his first three matches, earning two decisions and a tech fall. In the semifinals, the Nebraska All-American faced a familiar foe and the eventual national champion in this bracket: Brent Metcalf. FloWrestling has since named this bracket "The Toughest Bracket Ever" because of the depth of competition. This would be the last collegiate national bracket of Jordan Burroughs' career that he would not win.
Burroughs dropped down to the consolation bracket after his loss to Metcalf and met J.P. O'Connor of Harvard, one of the best wrestlers to ever don the Crimson singlet. O'Connor earned All-American honors as a true freshman the year before, and he pushed Burroughs in the consolation semifinals, though the Husker prevailed 5-3. Burroughs then won his third-place match against No. 5 Josh Churella of Michigan. Burroughs would leave the NCAA tournament in St. Louis that year with an All-American trophy for the first time in his career, but he also left with confidence and a newfound belief in himself that he could be the best. This mindset shift, he wrote, came from a post-match interview that head coach Mark Manning gave to the press after Burroughs' performance.
"I think he's going to be a national champion," Manning said. Burroughs wrote that those words made him believe he could do something unprecedented.
- W — Cody Chipperfield, Wyoming (MD: 19-7
- W — Trevor Chinn, Lehigh (MD: 18-9)
- L — Dustin Schlatter, Minnesota (D: 2-1)
- W — Sean Flynn, South Dakota Staet (F: 3:44)
- W — Marcos Martinez, Dana College (TF: 23-8)
- W — Daniel Prater, Northern Colorado (TF: 21-6)
- W — Kyle Larson, Oregon State (MD: 20-11
- W — Ryan Lang, Northwestern (D: 9-8)
- W — Bubba Jenkins, Penn State (D: 3-2)
- W — Luke Mellmer, Minnesota (TF: 24-9)
- W — Brent Metcalf, Iowa (D: 6-2)
- W — Quinten Fuentes, Oklahoma State (MD: 25-11)
- W — Josh Wagner, Missouri (MD: 15-7)
- W — Will Rowe, Oklahoma (D: 5-3)
- W — Don Fisch, Rider (TF: 20-5)
- W — Mitch Smith, Hofstra (MD: 17-9)
- W — Mitch Mueller, Iowa State (D: 11-5)
Big 12 Tournament
- W — Will Rowe, Oklahoma (TF: 24-9)
- W — Mitch Mueller, Iowa State (MD: 15-6)
- W — Cesar Grajales, Penn (D: 4-1)
- W — Ed McCray, Gardner- Webb (TF: 21-5, 5:00)
- W — Josh Churella, Michigan (D: 3-2)
- L — Brent Metcalf, Iowa (D: 8-4)
- W — J.P. O’Connor, Harvard (D: 5-3)
- W — Josh Churella, Michigan (D: 4-2)
Junior year (2008-2009)
In just two years, Jordan Burroughs went from losing wrestle-offs at both 141 and 149 pounds to topping his teammate by technical superiority at the start of the season and beginning a run toward a national championship. This is a transformation that few coaches expected to see from the middleweight when he left high school back in 2006, but here was Burroughs, under the guidance of Nebraska head coach Mark Manning, turning himself into a Husker hero.
Burroughs started the year at 149 pounds but quickly made the shift up to 157 to start the dual season. His first matches in this new weight class were stellar, as he majored No. 19 Joey Knox of Chattanooga and bonused Jon Brascetta of Oregon State on back-to-back weekends. He then took on some of the most elite wrestlers in his weight class at the Las Vegas Invite, but he handled them both, winning 3-2 over Harvard's J.P. O'Connor and 10-8 over Cornell's Jordan Leen to earn Outstanding Wrestling honors.
This tournament was further proof of Burroughs' dominance and skill, and he carried this momentum through the rest of the dual season, bonusing all but five of his opponents.
The postseason meant more titles for Burrroughs, as he won his second conference championship after wins over Neil Erisman of Oklahoma State and Michael Chandler of Missouri before earning the top spot heading into the NCAA tournament. Unlike Burroughs' first NCAA tournament, where he met top-ranked Schlatter in the first round and lost, this time Burroughs was in that lead position and winning. He topped Hadley Harrison of Clarion by technical fall and then pinned Colton Salazar of Purdue. This dominance continued, as he majored his next two opponents to set up a match against Michael Poeta, an Illini legend who would finish his career as a two-time finalist and three-time All-American. Burroughs controlled this matchup from start to finish, notching five points and limiting Poeta to just one escape.
Jordan Burroughs was an NCAA champion.
- W — Joey Knox, UT-Chattanooga (MD: 17-7)
- W — Jon Brascetta, Oregon State (MD: 18-7)
- W — Tyler Safratowich, Minnesota (D: 9-4)
- W — Aaron Hynes, Michigan (TF: 24-8)
- W — Justin Gaethje, Northern Colorado (MD: 19-8)
- W — Jason Welch, Northwestern (D: 7-2)
- W — Dan Vallimont, Penn State (D: 10-4)
- W — Matt Ballweg, Iowa (TF: 22-7)
- W — Cyler Sanderson, Iowa State (MD: 12-4)
- W — Kyle John, Maryland (MD: 22-9)
- W — Forfeit, Penn
- W — Jesse Don, Virginia Tech (MD: 16-6)
- W — Tyler Grayson, Central Michigan (MD: 13-5)
- W — Michael Chandler, Missouri (D: 4-3)
- W — Neil Erisman, Oklahoma State (MD: 21-9)
- W — Chad Terry, Oklahoma (D:9-4)
- W — Andrew Saunders, UNC- Greensboro (TF: 25-9)
- W — Thomas Scotton, North Carolina (TF:24-9)
- W — Cyler Sanderson, Iowa State (MD: 12-3)
Big 12 Tournament
W — Neil Erisman, Oklahoma State (MD:16-6)
W — Michael Chandler, Missouri (D: 6-4)
W —Hadley Harrison, Clarion (TF: 23-7)
W —Colton Salazar, Purdue (FALL: 2:27
W —Cyler Sanderson, Iowa State (MD: 14-6)
W —Gregor Gillespie, Edinboro (MD: 12-4)
W —Michael Poeta, Illinois (D: 5-1)
Senior Year Part I (2009-2010)
Defending national champion — that was a new title for Jordan Burroughs. The expectations were high for the Husker leader, but he lived up to them with authority. Burroughs started his season in the Nebraska wrestling room with a pin over his teammate Michael Klinginsmith in 1:26 at 157 pounds during the team's intersquad meet, but he added an official pin to his resume with a first-period fall against Greg Burke of Wisconsin on Nov. 15. His pin, which he earned just 25 seconds into the match, is the fastest fall by a Nebraska wrestler during the Big 12 era. This was the start Jordan Burroughs was looking for as he aimed to defend his title. At the Journeymen/Brute, Burroughs was similarly dominant, winning two of his four matches by bonus points, including a notable major decision against No. 8 Jon Bonilla-Bowman.
Everything was on track. Or so it seemed. A mouth injury kept Burroughs from defending his title at the Las Vegas Invite, but he was back on the mat against Minnesota on Dec. 10 where he earned a 24-9 technical fall against Joe Grygelko in a dual that would prove to be his last of the year. Burroughs then missed the next dual, a bout with South Dakota State, to attend the funeral of his grandfather, Leroy Burroughs and spend time with his family.
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His next match came against Central Michigan, but Burroughs would end up not being able to finish this match. He explained in a blog post that his scramble with Steve Brown tore up his LCL and PCL and ended his season. Nebraska's Tyler Koehn would ultimately take on the spot, place fourth at the Big 12 tournament and finished the year with a 15-15 record. But the Huskers missed Burroughs.
W — Greg Burke, Wisconsin (FALL: 1:26)
W — Justin Lister, Binghamton (D: 8-4)
W — Sean Bilodeau, Lehigh (D: 10-4)
W — Jon Bonilla-Bowman, Hofstra (MD: 22-9)
W — Chip Powell, App State (TF: 21-5)
W — Joe Grygelko, Minnesota (TF: 24-9)
INJ FORFEIT — Steve Brown, Central Michigan (D: 3-2)
Senior Year Part II (2010-2011)
Injuries can feel devastating, and Burroughs explained in his blog that he felt this despair after his junior year. He was the defending champion, the best in the country, and then, within a matter of minutes, he was unable to move. After extensive rehab, though and the full support of his teammates and coaches, Burroughs was back on the mat following his medical redshirt year, and he was ready for another shot at glory. Bumping up to 165 pounds, his third weight class in as many years, Burroughs started the year in the most dominant way possible, teching his first two opponents and then pinning the next three. His match against Corey Lear of Bucknell on Nov. 27 gave Burroughs his 100th win, a nice achievement but just part of the process for Burroughs on the quest for another national title.
His bonus streak continued with a major decision against Patrick Martinez of Wyoming and then two more tech falls before Burroughs traveled to Midlands to win his first tournament title at that event. His finals match win against defending NCAA champion Andrew Howe helped him earn Outstanding Wrestler honors and snapped Howe's 48-match winning streak. Burroughs' winning streak, however, would only continue.
He went 3-0 at the Lone Star Duals with a major decision, technical fall and pin and then picked up bonus in all but one of his remaining duals. Oklahoma's Tyler Caldwell, a two-time NCAA finalist, held Burroughs to a decision in both the dual at the Big 12 finals, but the Husker took his W and kept advancing. He would ultimately bonus Caldwell in major decision fashion in the NCAA finalists to become the first two-time NCAA champion in Nebraska wrestling history and win his first Hodge Trophy.
Jordan Burroughs ended his college career with 128-20-0 record, making him unquestionably one of the best Husker wrestlers in program history. The University of Nebraska honored Burroughs in October 2021 with a Hall of Fame induction, and his name will forever be associated with the Red and White.
- W — Adam Counterman, Pitt (TF: 25-10)
- W — Jared Kusar, Ohio State (TF: 20-5, 5:25)
- W — Corey Lear, Bucknell (FALL: 1:05)
- W — John Nething II, South Dakota State (FALL: 4:02)
- W — Rocco DePaolo, Northern Colorado (FALL: 0:43)
- W — Patrick Martinez, Wyoming (MD: 19-7)
- W — Cody Yohn, Minnesota (TF: 23-7)
- W — Jon Brascetta, Oregon State (TF: 26-9)
- W — Jeb Clark, Utah Valley (MD: 21-8)
- W — Garrett Schaner, Stanford (TF: 24-7, 6:46)
- W — Dave Foxen, Brown (FALL: 1:36)
- W — Forfeit, Wisconsin (165 pounds)
- W — John Simon, Northern Iowa (TF: 21-5)
- W — Tyler Caldwell, Oklahoma (D: 7-3)
- W — Zach Toal, Missouri (TF: 26-11)
- W — Te Edwards, Arizona State (TF: 21-6, 6:46)
- W — Dallas Bailey, Oklahoma State (MD: 21-9)
- W — Thomas Scotton, North Carolina (TF: 24-9)
- W — Chris Spangler, Iowa State (MD: 22-8)
Big 12 Tournament
W — Chris Spangler, Iowa State (MD: 16-8)
W — Tyler Caldwell (D: 2-1)
W — Ethan Headlee, Pitt (TF: 23-7, 5:16)
W — Justin Lister, Binghamton (INJ)
W — Scott Winston, Rutgers (TF: 23-8)
W — Colt Sponseller, Ohio State (MD: 14-6)
W — Tyler Caldwell, Oklahoma (MD: 11-3)
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The senior level years
As a two-time NCAA champ, Burroughs had proven he was a great wrestler. But he was just getting started. Just weeks after topping the 165-pound bracket on the NCAA level, Burroughs stayed the course, continuing to compete. He entered the U.S. Open in early April and won, rolling through the bracket for gold. He then signed up for World Team Trials, qualified for his first wold team and won his first world title, all within six months. Burroughs followed this performance with a Pan American gold in late 2011 and then earned victories at the Dave Schultz Memorial International and the Cerro Pelado International in early 2012.
Jordan Burroughs was no longer just an underdog from New Jersey. He was the best at his weight class, and he proved that in April of 2012 when he beat Andrew Howe again, this time for the Olympic team spot. Flash forward to the summer, and Burroughs was taking on the best in the world. And winning.
He beat Francisco Soler of Puerto Rico, Matt Gentry of Canada, Denis Tsargush of Russia and Sadegh Goudarzi of Iran consecutively to earn his first Olympic gold medal. Burroughs was officially the best in the world again.
The wins kept coming for the Nebraska alum, as he won a World Cup title in February 2013, earned an Alexander Medved Prizes International title in March and then beat fellow two-time NCAA champion David Taylor for another U.S. Open title in April. No one could stop Burroughs, not even four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, the opponent he met at the World Team Trials in June. Burroughs went on to secure a second World championship and his third World/Olympic gold that summer when he beat Narsingh Yadav of India, Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan, Ali Shabanau of Belarus and Ezzatollah Akbari of Iran, all while wrestling with a broken ankle.
Burroughs started his 2014 season with strong performances at the Yasar Dogu, but his winning streak that had stretched for over three years came to an end in a 4-4 criteria loss to Nick Marable in the quarterfinals of this tournament. The Olympic champion would go on to finish third in the Dogu, winning another medal. Burroughs continued on the senior circuit throughout the spring, winning the U.S. Open in April and then beating David Taylor of Penn State for the World Team spot in May.
At his third World Championship tournament, Burroughs looked sharp. He cruised to the semifinals after wins against Augusto Midana and Rashid Kurbanov, but a semifinal loss to Denis Tsargush forced Burroughs to ultimately settle for bronze. This third-place finish would be the first of three World bronze medals, as Burroughs would finish third in 2018 and 2019 before winning gold again in 2021 up at a new weight class. Prior to that run though, Burroughs notched a World gold in 2015 for his fourth international title and set himself up for another Olympic performance.
Burroughs returned to the Yasar Dogu tournament at the start of the 2016 and won his weight class, building momentum. A win at the Pan American Games also showed that Burroughs was primed and ready to qualify for his second Olympic team. In the finals of the Olympic Trials, Burroughs met a familiar foe in Andrew Howe, but he easily won his two matches and became a two-time Olympian.
At this point in his career, Burroughs had become one of the main faces of USA men's freestyle wrestling. Expectations were high. He won his opening round of the Games by a score of 8-3, generating attention and creating hype as his quest for a second gold medal continued. Then came the quarterfinals match. Burroughs wrestled Aniuar Geduev of Russia, and, despite a valiant effort, dropped 3-2. He then lost his consolation semifinals match by technical fall. That was it. Burroughs would leave Rio without a medal after coming in as the favorite.
Following this disappointment, Burroughs rebounded. That's what champions do. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist hadn't lost much on the senior level, but he took these Olympic losses in stride and came back in 2017 and won the world championships at the same weight he came up empty-handed in the previous year. He beat Ali Shabanau, Sosuke Takatani, Zelimkhan Khadjiev, Bekzod Abdurakhmonov and then Khetag Tsabolov to reclaim his spot on the top of the podium and end the year victorious. This 2017 medal would be Burroughs' last gold until 2021, as he finished third in 2018 and 2019 before the COVID pandemic disrupted action.
The Olympic Trials for the Tokyo Games, originally scheduled for April 2020, were delayed one year, forcing Burroughs to wait even longer for his opportunity. He took on some exhibition matches against domestic opponents, but, all the while, he was gearing up for 2021. He wasn't the only one getting ready though. Longtime rival Kyle Dake was looking for his shot to make an Olympic team, and though he had only ever beaten Burroughs once, in one match of a best-of-three finals in the 2017 World Team Trials, Dake believed he was the better wrestler, and he wasn't afraid to say that. He wanted a fair chance.
The Cornell legend worked his way through the Trials bracket in April of 2021 while Burroughs, as the returning world medalist, waited for him in the finals. These matches were expected to be electric, and they lived up to the hype. Dake won the first match 3-2, putting the pressure on Burroughs. Dake then followed up that first score with a 3-0 victory in the second match, ending Burroughs' chance for Olympic glory. Burroughs' disappointment was clear, but his interviews following the Trials suggested that he wasn't done competing. He had more to give.
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Six months later, Burroughs was back to his winning ways, this time at a new weight. He won the U.S. World Team Trials at 79kg and then, despite an injury to his calf that could have derailed his efforts, won his fifth world title and sixth World/Olympic medal, tying John Smith and Adeline Gray for the most World/Olympic medals in wrestling history.
He was comfortable at 79kg. And he was here to make history.
Burroughs added a gold medal at the Yasar Dogu to his resume in February of 2022 and then notched a title at the 2022 Pan American Games in May. He was peaked and ready to qualify for another world team. Enter Chance Marsteller.
The two-time All-American from Lock Haven was in the midst of his own personal comeback when the two wrestlers met at Final X, USA Wrestling's site for determining the World Team rep at weights with a returning world medalist. Burroughs was the unquestionable favorite. He was the reigning world champion and the six-time World and Olympic medalist. But Marsteller does not quit. Burroughs won the first match in the best-of-three series 4-0 but dropped the second match 2-2, creating hype, anticipation and excitement. With his World team spot on the line in Madison Square Garden, Burroughs did what Burroughs does in these situations, and he battled for six minutes to secure the 5-0 win. He could relax.
Six months have passed since that tense match on the mat in New York. Burroughs' World championship goals, and the mission he planned to pursue this fall were no secret. He wanted to make history. And, on Sept. 16 in the 79kg final, Burroughs did just that.
The New Jersey native who had just one scholarship offer out of high school now has more world and Olympic medals than any wrestler in history.
He's one of the greatest ever. He is Jordan Burroughs, a legend in the sport of wrestling.