Photo credit to The Mat.com

Everyone loves a good underdog story, which is why Brandon Slay deserves a place on our list of past wrestling greats. Slay, a former University of Pennsylvania standout, never won an NCAA title or world championship. He never put together an undefeated season or rewrote the record books at Penn. However, Slay did do something all collegiate wrestlers dream of, but few ever achieve. He won Olympic Gold.

A native of Amarillo, TX, Slay wrestled for Tascosa High School from 1990-93. After finishing second in the state finals his freshman year, Slay went on to win three consecutive individual championships to close out his prep career before joining the Penn Quakers.

Penn was a bit of an unusual choice for Slay. At the time, the Ivy League school could hardly be considered a wrestling powerhouse. In fact, when Slay arrived on the Philadelphia campus in 1993, the Quakers were mired in a two-decade conference championship drought. But the powerful Texan helped Penn turn things around, leading them to three Ivy titles in his four seasons at the university.

Slay’s run to Olympic gold in 2000 was also unusual. He earned a spot on Team USA despite very limited experience in international competition, and after arriving in Sydney, proceeded to advance to the gold medal match against Germany’s Alexander Leipold. Leipold defeated Slay 4-0, but subsequently tested positive for steroids. The Olympic Committee later awarded the gold medal to the unheralded, unhyped Slay.

Where is Brandon Slay now?

As the Resident Freestyle Coach for USA Wrestling at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, Slay is currently responsible for identifying, recruiting, and grooming America’s next generation of grappling greats.


Note: This post is the sixth in a series of retrospectives that will examine the career highlights of some of the greatest college and Olympic wrestlers in recent history and tell you where they are now.