One of the most accomplished and respected wrestling coaches in the country, Kevin Jackson, has agreed to serve as interim coach of the Portland, Oregon-based Wolfpack as the team competes at the International Fight League event at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on Friday, April 13. Jackson, who won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, will be leading the squad in place of Matt Lindland, who will be competing in an MMA event overseas. The IFL is the world’s first team-based professional mixed martial arts league.
In addition to his Olympic feat, Jackson also claimed World Championship gold medals in both 1991 and 1995. He is one of only five U.S. wrestlers to claim three career World-level titles. A pioneer of sorts in the sport, Kevin Jackson is proud to have become the second African American wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me to work with an outstanding group of mixed martial artists, many of whom have strong wrestling backgrounds,” said Jackson. “I also look forward to the challenge of competing against a strong team and coach in Renzo Gracie.”
In college, Jackson competed for both Louisiana State and Iowa State Universities. From 1983 through 1985 Jackson was a three-time All-American at LSU. After his junior season, LSU dropped its wrestling program and Jackson transferred to Iowa State for his final year of eligibility. At the 1987 NCAA tournament, the Cyclones’ star 167-pounder finished second to end his college career as a four-time All-American.
He later went on to an MMA career, which included a championship at UFC 14. He was ranked as the world’s No. 1 middleweight following that victory.
“Kevin Jackson’s status as one of the world’s best freestyle wrestlers and as an outstanding teacher of the sport will be a big plus for the Wolfpack in this important matchup,” said Kurt Otto, IFL Commissioner and Co-Founder. “We are excited that he as accepted this role, which is indicative of the growing relationship between the IFL and USA Wrestling.”
“I picked Kevin because he is not only a veteran of the sport, but because he has earned my respect and those of many other world-class athletes,” added Lindland. “In addition to being a friend, he is someone I have worked with extensively in the past, with great success.”
The Wolfpack, who last year advanced to the finals of the International Fight League World Team Championship, will take on the Pitbulls, based in New York and coached by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Renzo Gracie, in the regular season event, which will be shown the same night on Fox Sports Net at 11 p.m. in most markets. The Dragons, coached by MMA legend Carlos Newton, battle the Scorpions, led by MMA and wrestling icon Don Frye, in the other team matchup on the 10-bout card.