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U of Michigan Adds Kevin Jackson to Coaching Staff as Assistant Coach

Release courtesy of University of Michigan Sports Information. Photo by Tony Rotundo. 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan wrestling head coach Sean Bormet announced Wednesday (Oct. 13) the addition of Kevin Jackson to his coaching staff as an assistant coach. An Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, Jackson has served the last four years as USA Wrestling’s National Freestyle Developmental Coach.

“Kevin Jackson is a world-class coach and has developed champions at every level,” said Bormet. “He has an incredible amount of experience on the mat and in the corner. His passion for wrestling and his commitment to the athletes he coaches is a perfect match with our staff and program. I have known Kevin a long time and had the pleasure to coach alongside him many times at international events. I am so excited to work with him on a daily basis here at Michigan.”

“I’m truly excited to return to my home state,” said Jackson. “The opportunity to work with Coach Bormet, his staff and the outstanding student-athletes are the reasons I’m returning to college wrestling. Michigan’s leadership, facilities, education and commitment to excellence is second to none. I can’t wait to get started! Go Blue!”

Jackson spent 15 total years with USA Wrestling’s freestyle program in several coaching capacities, including eight as USAW National Freestyle Coach (2001-08). His leadership covered two Olympic cycles and four U.S. Olympic medals, including gold medalists Cael Sanderson (2004) and Henry Cejudo (2008). The United States also won two world championships team trophies in men’s freestyle under Jackson, placing second in 2003 and third in 2006, and captured 11 individual world medals, including gold from Bill Zadick in 2006.

As USA Wrestling’s freestyle resident coach (1998-2000), Jackson served as the primary coach for 2000 Olympic gold medalist Brandon Slay.

In his most recent role as developmental coach, Jackson worked with elite age-group freestyle wrestlers, launching and overseeing the Elite Accelerated Program (EAP) at the Olympic Training Center and coaching Team USA’s cadet and junior world teams. Over his tenure (2017-21), the USA development program had its best world results in its history. Jackson led cadet and junior world team athletes to 43 of 73 possible medals (55 percent), while 40 percent won a gold medals. He also assisted in coaching U.S. freestyle wrestlers on the senior level, including two-time world champion J’Den Cox.

Jackson served eight years as head coach at Iowa State (2010-17), during which the Cyclones crowned four NCAA champions — Jake Varner (2010), David Zabriskie (2010), Jon Reader (2011) and Kyven Gadson (2015) — as well as 14 All-Americans and nine Big 12 champions. He led ISU to a third-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Championships and five total top-15 NCAA finishes over his tenure.

He also had coaching stints with the U.S. Army, Sunkist Kids and Arizona State earlier in his career.

Considered one of the greatest freestyle wrestlers in U.S. history, Jackson captured the 82kg/181-pound gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and claimed 82kg titles at the 1991 and 1995 World Championships. He was a four-time U.S. world team member, also taking fourth in 1993, and contributed to the United States’ world team titles in 1991 and 1993. Jackson also won three World Cup gold medals (1993, ’95, ’97) and two Pan American Games and two Pan American Championships titles.

Jackson was the recipient of the 1995 John Smith Award as National Freestyle Wrestler of the Year, 1992 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year and 1991 USA Wrestling and USOC Wrestler of the Year.

As a collegiate wrestler, Jackson was a four-time NCAA All-American at 158 and 167 pounds. He spent his first three seasons at LSU (1983-85), twice placing third at NCAAs, before transferring to Iowa State after LSU dropped wrestling. He was an NCAA runner-up for ISU and contributed to the Cyclones’ NCAA team championships in 1987.

He is a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the UWW International Wrestling Hall of Fame and an inductee into both the Iowa State and LSU Athletics Halls of Fame.

Jackson is a native of Lansing, Michigan, where he was a two-time state champion at Eastern High School and a Junior National Greco-Roman champion.

Jackson and his wife, Robin, have five children: Cole (wife Melissa), Bailee, Trinity, Brynn and Kira

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