Tamyra Mensah-Stock dominates the Tokyo Games and becomes First Black Woman to Win a Gold Medal in Freestyle Wrestling
When U.S. Olympian Tamyra Mensah-Stock took gold in the women's freestyle wrestling 68 kg final at the Tokyo Games she became the first Black woman to win a Gold Medal in her sport.
Mensah-Stock joined WBGO Studios podcast SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about her historic win and her amazing journey to get there. The Olympic champion credits her faith and family for helping her persevere.
"I definitely knew that I was supposed to be in the finals match and was supposed to get gold, but at the same time, there's alway doubts. There's always the enemy creeping at your mind, telling you you're not good enough, telling me that I didn't work hard enough, that you didn't have the right nutrition, look what your teammates are doing other things, look at your personality, you're different than them. However, I made sure I had bible study every morning and I pray every morning. I talk to my husband all the time and I make sure he knows how I'm feeling. I talk to my family all the time and there's just so many people in my corner that have constantly and consistently that I can do what I'm setting out to do."
That support system includes her mom and twin sister and her sponsor.
The road to Tokyo had many hurdles for Mensah-Stock. She lost her father in a car accident when she was in high school. He was returning home from one of her wrestling matches. Tears flowed from Mensah-Stock as she walked off the mat in Tokyo, knowing that her late dad would be so proud of her.
"I started wrestling the first year (at Mortan Ranch High School in Katy, Texas) and he would love going to every single tournament and dual. There was one time I didn't even tell him about a dual and he was mad at me. I'm definitely always wrestling for him. I have a big portrait of him in my house right now and I just love looking at him. I have dreams about him all the time. He was definitely on the mat with me and for sure screaming his butt off saying "kill her". When we were in high school, he'd yell mat side "kill 'em" and I'd come off the mat saying daddy you're not supposed to say "kill", that's terrible."
Mensah-Stock is extremely proud of her heritage. Her dad was from Ghana. Ghana and Nigeria are rivals and she says it was kind of like poetic justice that she beat a Nigerian in the finals. Mensah-Stock also quickly embraced the America flag after her victory. She stresses she loves being in America.
"I would not be here today if my dad hadn't immigrated from Ghana. My dad chose America because he knew America would give him the opportunity. My dad had multiple businesses in Louisiana. He made a way for himself. That's incredible. We take being in America for granted. I just know from all my travels just how many opportunities were have here."
During the Olympic coverage in Tokyo, the smile, enthusiasm and talent of Mensah-Stock captured the hearts of Americans and the NBC Sports television crew. It's almost hard to believe that she was bullied in high school. Why did that happen?
"Cause I was different. I didn't fit into the box that I was supposed to be, my color. I was this punk girl that dressed like rock. I honestly don't know. I was bubbly, a little ditzy. They called me stupid, dumb and ugly and it wasn't right."
When her coaches heard about the circumstances they wanted to help, but the young wrestler says she was able to use her faith to push past the verbal abuse from a few kids.
One of the classmates at Mortan Ranch High School who caught her eye right away was the captain of the wrestling team, Jacob Stock. A crush started then and eventually the two would go to Wayland Baptist University and start dating her junior year. Marriage eventually followed.and she stresses she's been happy ever since.
Mensah-Stock promised her mom that she would buy her a food truck if she won gold in Tokyo. That dream has come true and with money she gets from the U.S. Olympic committee for winning a gold medal, she will be able to make that happen soon.
"I really want to thank Cruising Kitchens (San Antonio, Texas). They are going to make my mom, from scratch, her very own food truck. It's going to have everything I could not have imagined and more. I'm positively elated and excited for her. She wants to make African food and barbecue and she wants to bake."
The wrestling career is far from over for Tamyra Mensah-Stock. She may compete in the next Olympics but there's plenty of tournaments before that.
"I'm definitely going to the World Championships in Oslo, Norway in three months, so that's for sure."
She also would love to compete in the WWE in the future.
You can see the entire interview at https://fb.watch/7lgSwl1P0U/.