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TrueWrestlingInsider.com celebrates Black History Month with athlete tributes

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For more than 65 years, African-Americans have had a considerable impact on all forms of amateur wrestling. During National Black History Month, TrueWrestlingInsider.com is featuring profiles of some of the all-time great wrestlers and coaches of color, most recently, Kerry McCoy on Wednesday, and Joe James Thursday.

Head wrestling coach at the University of Maryland, McCoy was a two-time NCAA heavyweight champ for Penn State, and wrestled freestyle for the U.S. at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. James made history as the first African-American to wrestle as a starter for the storied Oklahoma State wrestling program in the early 1960s (winning the heavyweight title at the 1964 NCAAs), and first wrestler of color to win a gold medal for the U.S. at the Pan American Games in 1963.

Among the others who have been profiled in the Black History Month series include wrestling and coaching pioneer Bobby Douglas, Olympic gold medalist and three-time All-American Kenny Monday, Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson, Boston University head coach Carl Adams, Toccara Montgomery (first black woman to wrestle for the U.S. at the Olympics, in 2004), and current Team USA freestyle wrestler Victorian Anthony.

Through the rest of February, the series also plans to honor other African-Americans who have achieved greatness as wrestlers and coaches, including Curley Culp, 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee (and 1967 NCAA heavyweight champ for Arizona State), Harold Henson (first black to wrestle at the NCAAs, in 1949, for San Diego State), and Simon Roberts (first African-American to win a national title, at the 1957 NCAAs, for University of Iowa).

Among the writers who are contributing to the TrueWrestlingInsider.com Black History Month series include Josh Conrad, Mike Houston, Mark Palmer, Michael Porcini, and Keith Richards.

When asked what the thinking was behind the website’s Black History Month series, co-founder Mike Houston said, “Seeing that my partner in TrueWrestlingInsider.com, Keith Richards, is African-American, what better way to honor him, show some of our wrestlers respect, and teach kids that Black History Month doesn’t need to be limited to what they learn in school.”

About the photo: Some of the athletes honored for Black History Month so far by TrueWrestlingInsider.com: From left, Victoria Anthony, Kerry McCoy, and Joe James, in his uniform as an Oklahoma State wrestler of the early 1960s: trunks, tights, no shirt. (This was before today's singlets.)

Want to see Joe James in action? Check out the 1962 NCAA finals film posted at YouTube by Oklahoma State, where, at 26 minutes into the film, you'll see James take on cross-state rival Wayne Baughman for the 191-pound title.

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