How Olympic Wrestler Jordan Burroughs Became a Family Man in 2020

This article originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Men’s Health.

JORDAN BURROUGHS, the 2012 Olympic wrestling champion was ready for Tokyo, but then COVID-19 pushed the 2020 Olympics to 2021 (which even now seems … hopeful?).

That’s when Burroughs went full-blown Dad.

Wrestling gives me purpose. So it was depressing, honestly, for the first couple of months where I wasn’t with my guys daily in the locker room and in training trying to elevate myself athletically. I wasn’t being challenged daily.

I had to ultimately surrender. If things are postponed or canceled, I can’t get to the gym. I need to just take this time to relax because if I continue to try to train at a high level, I’m really putting my family and my friends at risk.

When they made the announcement to postpone the Olympics, it really just gave me a sense of peace.

The beauty and the silver lining was that I got to spend a significant amount of time with my family. I just got to be Dad and I got to be a husband. I got to wake up on the weekends and mow my lawn, make the kids breakfast every day and take them on walks and go for bike rides.

It was a simple life, but it was a meaningful one.

I really needed to connect on a deeper, more spiritual level to get through these times because it’s easy to just say, “Oh, be tough. It’ll end and everyone’s going through the same thing.”

You can’t expect people to will their way through things like this, because it’s new to everyone.

As a Black man, what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced personally doesn’t even compare to a lot of things that I’ve watched via social media, and stories that I’ve heard from friends of mine—things and experiences that they’ve had.

I’ve taken this time to learn and listen as well, because it’s easy to just automatically be thrust into this position where you’re a representative for all your people.

I pray for my kids that they have the ability to be influenced by everyone to have a loving relationship with people, all creeds, colors, socio-economic statuses, cultures, sexual preferences.

I think that when something that you’re pursuing becomes part of who you are, when it’s ingrained in you, then you never stop pursuing it, without the circumstances around.

There are so many things that we are pushovers about because we’re afraid of what people may say or may think of us. But if we operate with the listeners, we might be a little bit closer to either the light that we desire or be closer to really changing the lives of the people around us.

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