In 1988, Kenny Monday became the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling. (Photo by Word In Black)

By Jamila Bey,
Word In Black

NCAA Division I, Varsity-level men’s wrestling is coming back to Morgan State University after a 25-year hiatus. Led by Kenny Monday, the first Black wrestler in history to win an Olympic gold medal, the program’s return will mark Morgan State as the only HBCU to offer NCAA Division I Varsity-level wrestling. 

An exhaustive search led the Bears to Monday, whose accomplishments in the sport remain unparalleled: Olympic gold medalist in 1988 and silver medalist in 1992, World Champion in 1989, USA Free Style Champion in 1985, 1988, 1991 and 1996, and three-time All-American and NCAA Champion in 1984. 

Monday has been inducted into the National Wrestling (2001), Oklahoma Sports (2003) and United World Wrestling International (2016) Halls of Fame, and as a coach, he has trained 30 national champions and 50 All-Americans.

In October 2021, the university announced its plans to revive the men’s wrestling program with the support of a $2.7-million gift from HBCU Wrestling (HBCUW), an organization dedicated to reestablishing wrestling programs on HBCU campuses. The donation provides funding for the program and supports up to nine full scholarships each year. 

President of the Morgan State University, David K. Wilson, said: “It isn’t every day that you can bring in a leader the caliber of Coach Kenny Monday–someone who has successfully competed and coached at the high school, collegiate and professional levels and has won throughout his career.”

 The first full season of Morgan’s new wrestling program is slated for 2023–24.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!