For most elite wrestlers, the path to the top is a predictable one. First, they make a name for themselves in high school by winning one or more state championships. Next, they go to a university with a top-tier wrestling program to hone their skills against the toughest competition in the country and contend for an NCAA title. Then they test their mettle in international events such as the World Championships and World Cup. And finally, with all that experience under their belt, they make a bid to represent Team USA at the Olympics.

But Henry Cejudo is not like most wrestlers. While still in high school in Phoenix, the then-17-year-old phenom accepted an invitation to live and train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He finished out his prep career in Colorado without missing a beat, racking up four state championships (two in Arizona and two in Colorado) and becoming the first high schooler to win the U.S. Nationals.

After limited participation in international competitions such as the Pan Am Games, Cejudo won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, thus securing a berth in the Beijing Olympics. There, at the age of 21, Cejudo defeated Japan’s Tomohiro Matsunaga to become the youngest American to win a freestyle wrestling gold medal.

A partial listing of Cejudo’s career accomplishments reads as follows:

  • Four high school state championships
  • ASICS National High School Wrestler of the Year
  • Two-time ASICS High School First Team member
  • FILA Junior World Team Trials championship
  • Two Pan American Games gold medals
  • Two U.S. Nationals titles
  • Takhti Cup silver medal
  • Olympic gold medal

Where is Henry Cejudo now?

Cejudo retired from freestyle wrestling after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team. At the beginning of 2013, he embarked on a career in MMA and is 5-0 through his first five matches. Cejudo is now regarded as the top MMA Bantamweight prospect in the country.