Gold medals inspire 2012 Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs.
By Randy York
Wrestling’s biggest walking billboard won another world championship Wednesday in Budapest, Hungary. And now, as the world continues to turn, Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs has all of 24 days to prepare for his next major milestone – his Saturday, Oct. 12 wedding in Buffalo, N.Y., to Lauren Mariacher, whose brother wrestled for American University in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. “As luck would have it, she happened to be sitting right in front of the mat that I was wrestling on,” Burroughs told me the day before he joined Nebraska coaches Mark Manning and Bryan Snyder on flights to Frankfort and Budapest.
“A world championship is important to me, but it isn’t even close to what it’s going to be like getting married,” Burroughs said. “Lauren saw me and apparently thought I was good-looking. A couple days later she sent me a message on Facebook to congratulate me on winning the NCAA. A couple months after that, I was in Buffalo doing a clinic for a local high school and had the audacity to send her a message, even though I didn’t know her. We finally connected by phone, and I told her I was going to be there for a couple days and maybe we could meet each other, hang out or do something together like a movie or dinner.”
Talk about the power of social media. “I know, it’s crazy, but she’s so awesome,” Burroughs said. “She has more energy than me. She’s been a sports writer in Buffalo for two years. While she was working, she ran a marathon and got her Master’s at Columbia University within a matter of months of each other. What I’ve done can’t even compare to what she’s done. She is an amazing woman, and getting married will be the absolute highlight of my life.”
Burroughs Proud Scherr Rescued Wrestling
A second world championship moved Burroughs to 65 consecutive wins. He went to Budapest as the only 2012 London Olympic champion competing in the 2013 World Championships. Somehow, wrestling is on the same kind of roll that Burroughs is. Nine days ago, the International Olympic Committee announced that wrestling had defeated baseball/softball and squash for a spot in the 2020 Summer Games. “Everybody had a great presentation, but we had a Nebraska wrestler making our presentation,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs viewed his Olympic gold as an achievement that represented the Nebraska Way, and he sees fellow former Husker Jim Scherr as the pivot man who saved wrestling as a viable world-class sport. Scherr was also the first Olympian ever selected to lead the United States Olympic Committee as its CEO.
“I watched his presentation from Buenos Aires on my computer, and he did an amazing job for our sport,” Burroughs said. “I was scared, and I was sweating. It felt like I was watching the most suspenseful movie I’ve ever watched. I don’t know if wrestling would have gone off the deep end if one of those other sports had beaten us out, but I do know it would have put wrestling in a dangerous place.
“When you lose something and then get it back, you’re more fired up than ever,” Burroughs told me. “What we did and what Jim Scherr was able to communicate will make wrestling more popular than it has ever been. We’ve added more weight classes. We’ve added more gender equity, and we’ve positioned ourselves to be more relevant.”
Fans Flock to Burroughs’ Twitter Account
Within 10 seconds of a worldwide announcement that wrestling was alive and well again, Jordan Burroughs tweeted the good news. Within five minutes of that tweet were nearly 1,000 retweets, so he wasn’t the only one strapped to his computer sweating bullets. Within five hours or so, the number of retweets reached 5,000.
Burroughs thinks beyond mere numbers. He’s a man of faith, and if you watch this video, produced by his fiancé, you’ll understand that she’s just as down-to-earth as he is. “We’re so excited to get married and then come back to live in Lincoln,” he said. “We just bought a house on Sheridan Boulevard. I love Lincoln, the coaches, the environment and the facilities I train in. I’m not leaving here. We have everything we want. The city’s great, the people are great, and this is where we want to call home.”
Burroughs may have struck gold in London, and he may have just won gold in Budapest, but the gold he sees and values most is right here in Lincoln.
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