Lee Kemp was raised in foster homes until he was 5 years old after being given up at birth. He was adopted by a couple and raised on a farm in Ohio. As a freshman in High School Lee was introduced to the sport of wrestling and from there, his trajectory pointed significantly upward. Lee won 2 High School Wrestling State Titles at Chardon High School in Ohio and went undefeated his Junior and Senior years. After high school Lee attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he cemented his legend as one of the greatest ever. Lee Kemp is also the first African American to win 3 NCAA Titles (and a 4X Finalist).
Lee's lone Finals loss was his Freshman year, where the match was tied at the end of regulation and still tied after overtime. Though Lee scored the only take-down of the match, two of the three referees ruled in favor of Chuck Yagla (who went on to be an Olympian). At the time a referee was able to decide (by criteria) the winner of a (still tied) overtime match. It ended up catapulting him even higher.
Lee used this heart-breaking loss to fuel him for the following years in college where he won 3 NCAA Championships and then, and during his sophomore year (18 years old), Lee did the unthinkable. Lee entered the Northern Open Collegiate wrestling tournament where he could face the best American wrestler ever, 26 year old, Dan Gable who had just won an Olympic Gold medal in Munich having not surrendered a single point. Lee slayed the giant and the wrestling world took notice. Kemp later said: “I saw the first two guys he wrestled against lose,” says Kemp. “Not so much because Gable was crushing them, but because they had quit before they set foot on the mat.” Kemp had attended a seminar months before where he had heard Gable speak, and something Gable had said resonated with him: “Anybody could be beaten.” Gable mentioned, and Kemp took it to heart.
Lee missed an opportunity to win Gold in 1980 when the United States Boycotted the Olympic Games. This was another difficult test for Lee, part of a longer story that will be told in his upcoming documentary. To add to his list of achievments, Lee was selected as a Coach for the 2008 Men's U.S. Olympic Team in Bejing.
Once again, MatTime is truly honored to have yet another Olympian Coaching here. It's humbling to have the coaches we have and be able to surround our kids with both great wrestlers but also amazing people like Lee Kemp, Quincey Clark and Adrian Garcia that head up our Kids wrestling programs. To put Lee into perspective, he is arguably the greatest American Wrestler of all time.
Lee's story is one that could easily be made into a Hollywood movie. In fact, there is a full length documentary sheduled to be released this summer about Lee's wrestling journey, called: Wrestled Away: The Lee Kemp Story.
Some of Lee's accomplishments below:
Lee Kemp is a 3X NCAA Chammpion, a 3X World Champion and a 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Coach. He is also a National and International Wresting Hall of Fame inductee and he'll be coaching at MatTime. Find out more about this American legend. More Info »
Quincey was a 2000 U.S. Olympic Team member in Sydney, Austrailia. Quincey was also an All American and NCAA Finalist at the University of Oklahoma and we're honored to have him! More Info »
Coach Adrian will head up our Kids Wrestling group at MatTime. Adrian was a Div. I wrestler at U.C. Davis and was an NCAA Qualifier. Adrian does a fantastic job with the kids and we're happy to have him as part of USA Gold and MatTime. More Info »
Coach Grant Gambrall is an NCAA All American and placed 3rd at the NCAA Chanpionships while wrestling for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Grant is also the assistant coach at Del Oro H.S. More Info »
David is a 2x California State Champion, A Junior National Champion and Big 12 Champion at Nebraska. David is an outstanding kids, high school and personal wrestling coach. Find out more about David. More Info »
Mark Kamizaki has been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since 2007 and was awarded his Black Belt in 2016 by Cassio Werneck. More Info »