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Happy birthday to Olympic gold medalist and Tulsa native Kenny Monday: Take a look back at his career

Happy birthday to Olympic gold medalist and Tulsa native Kenny Monday: Take a look back at his career

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Happy birthday to Olympic gold medalist and former Booker T. Washington and OSU wrestler Kenny Monday, who turns 59 on Wednesday.

“Before (the 1976 Olympics), I didn’t understand or have a vision of what was possible in the sport of wrestling,” Monday said. “Then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘This is possible. I can go and win the Olympic gold medal, go compete against people from other countries.’

“As a young kid growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a black kid in the sport of wrestling … that really gave me a sense of what, to me, had seemed impossible.”

As Monday blossomed into the most dominant of wrestlers at Booker T., going undefeated was still no easy feat. Especially for a young black man in the 1970s.

Coaches told black wrestlers they needed to pin to win. So pin and win Monday did, and he did it often.

Monday went 121-12-2 and won a 1984 NCAA title at Oklahoma State, where Tahlequah’s Mike Sheets -- the wrestler who gave Monday the tie in Monday's 140-0-1 high school record -- became his loyal training partner.

Monday qualified for the U.S. Olympic team and went on to upset the Soviet Union’s Adlan Varaev in sudden-death for the 74-kilogram gold medal match in 1988. He also won the silver medal at the 1992 Olympics.

Take a look back at his career here:

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