John Smith (wrestler)

John Smith (wrestler)

John Smith
Medal record
Men's freestyle wrestling
Competitor for the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1988 Seoul 62 kg
Gold medal – first place 1992 Barcelona 62 kg
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1987 Clermont-Ferrand 62 kg
Gold medal – first place 1989 Martigny 62 kg
Gold medal – first place 1990 Tokyo 62 kg
Gold medal – first place 1991 Varna 62 kg
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1987 Indianapolis 62 kg
Gold medal – first place 1991 Havana 62 kg

John William Smith (born (1965-08-09) August 9, 1965 ) is a winner of the AAU Sullivan Award which honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. He is a 4-time World Champion, 2-time Olympic Games champion, and is currently the head coach of wrestling at Oklahoma State University.


  • High school career 1
  • College and freestyle career 2
    • 1984 2.1
    • 1985 2.2
    • 1986 2.3
    • 1987 2.4
    • 1988 2.5
    • 1989 2.6
    • 1990 2.7
    • 1991 2.8
    • 1992 2.9
  • Coaching career 3
  • Other honors 4
  • See also 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7
  • Video Interviews 8

High school career

Smith grew up in a wrestling family in Del City, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City. His high school career record is 105-5.A 4x Placer Placing 2nd as a freshmen, 3rd as a sophomore, and a 2x state champion winning it his junior and senior year. His older brother Leroy and younger brother Pat Smith also wrestled for Del City High School and Oklahoma State University. All three became national champions in college. The youngest Smith brother, Mark, wrestled at Oklahoma State and was also an All-American. Smith's nephews Mark and Chris Perry are also national collegiate champions. Mark won two titles while wrestling for the University of Iowa. Chris won two titles under John's tutelage at Oklahoma State University.

College and freestyle career

Smith's college career record is 154-7-2; his domestic freestyle record is 77-3; and his international freestyle record is 100-5.


  • In Smith's freshman year of NCAA competition, he did not place at the NCAA Tournament.


  • In Smith's sophomore year of NCAA competition, he was a Big Eight Runner-up and an NCAA Runner-up.
  • USA Junior Freestyle Champion.


  • Smith took a redshirt year and did not compete in NCAA competition.
  • USA Senior Freestyle Champion.
  • Goodwill Games Champion.



  • In Smith's redshirt senior year of NCAA competition, he was a Big Eight Champion and an NCAA Champion.
  • USA Senior Freestyle Champion.
  • Olympic Freestyle Champion.





  • Olympic Freestyle Champion.

Coaching career

  • Smith became the head wrestling coach at Oklahoma State University beginning with the 1991-1992 season. He succeeded Joe Seay, who resigned during an investigation by the NCAA. Smith has coached at OSU for 18 seasons, longer than any other Cowboy mentor except the legendary Edward Gallagher. Smith has a dual meet record of 281-42-4 and the 281 wins are an Oklahoma State record.
  • His teams have won five NCAA wrestling team titles, in 1994 and 2003 through 2006. His wrestlers have won 26 individual NCAA titles and 102 All-American honors. Smith has also captured 10 conference (Big Eight and Big 12) team titles and his wrestlers have won 82 conference crowns.
  • Under Smith's watch, Oklahoma State compiled a 21-0 dual meet record in 2005 and capped the season with one of the most dominant showings in the history of the NCAA Championships when an NCAA-record five separate Cowboys (half of the lineup) were crowned as NCAA champions. Zack Esposito won at 149, Johny Hendricks taking the 165 championship, Chris Pendleton repeating as an NCAA champion at 174, Jake Rosholt claiming the title at 197 and Steve Mocco taking the heavyweight championship.
  • John coached his nephew Chris to All American honors with a 3rd place finish at NCAA's in 2012 and a national championship in 2013 and 2014.
  • John coached Jordan Oliver, a 4x All American, 3x NCAA finalist, 2x NCAA Champion.

Other honors

  • Smith was the first American to be chosen Master of Technique and Wrestler of the Year by the International Wrestling Federation (FILA).
  • Smith was the first wrestler to be voted the James E. Sullivan Award as America's outstanding athlete.
  • Smith was the first wrestler ever nominated for the World Trophy, which he received in 1992.
  • Smith was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1997.
  • His home high school (Del City High School) in Del City, Oklahoma, bears his name on the field house.
  • Smith is a member of the Oklahoma Alpha (Oklahoma State) chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon
  • Smith also has a move named after him, the John Smith single.

See also


  • Dellinger, Bob & Doris. 1994. The Cowboys Ride Again. Oklahoma Bylines Inc. ISBN 978-1-882336-04-3
  • Zavoral, Nolan. 1997. A Season on the Mat. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-84787-0
  • Hammond, Jairus K. 2005. The History of Collegiate Wrestling. National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. ISBN 978-0-9765064-0-9
  • Moffat, James V. 2007. Wrestlers At The Trials. Exit Zero Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9799051-0-0
  • Parrish, Kim D. 2007. Cowboy Up. Oklahoma Heritage Association. ISBN 978-1-885596-61-1

External links

  • Wrestling Hall of Fame - Coach
  • Wrestling Hall of Fame - Wrestler
  • Biography at
  • Collegiate Record - Wrestler
  • Collegiate Record - Coach
  • John Smith

Video Interviews

  • Flowrestling coverage of John Smith