Most Influential Students: J’den Cox
Said Cox: “I don't want to be valued as a wrestler. I want to be valued as a person. I enjoy people that care about my wrestling and all that, but if that’s all that people see in me, then I think that’s lacking on my part. That means I’m not doing someth
May. 06, 2015
J’den Cox seemed to bounce back quickly after dropping his semifinal bout at the NCAA national championships.
Despite getting upset by Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder and consequently losing hopes for both a repeat individual title and a first-ever program title, the Missouri wrestling team’s leader kept his head up and went on with it.
“Not winning a national championship is not going to make me a failure,” Cox said following his match. “Not having fun loving what I’m doing makes me a failure.”
It seems like Cox is always in good spirits, even with something as heartbreaking as finishing No. 5 individually and No. 4 as a team, although both figures were expected to be “No. 1s.”
The charismatic Columbia native may have lost his chance to become Tiger Style’s first four-time national champion, but in his eyes, that brings no sense of despondency.
“I didn’t have the tournament that I wanted, but I can’t say that I’m disappointed,” Cox said. “I don’t really even believe in disappointment, I don’t think it’s a real thing. I just think there’s a want for more — more to be done or something different to be done. There’s too little time to stay sad or down about something, so I just don’t even make it a point. It’s just move on and get better and do more. I think that goes for everything in life.”
Last year’s 197-pound national champion is firm in this belief, emphasizing “everything in life.”
Cox has fully lost hearing in his left ear due to a hereditary issue — something that would slow most people, much more athletes, down, even halting their hopes and dreams.
Not this guy, though.
Cox has continued to not only dominate in his sport, but also find the time to excel off the mat He’s also a talented bass guitarist and singer.
The wrestling mat isn’t the only place Cox performs; he’s sung the national anthem at Mizzou sporting events, along with performing live shows.
Between school, wrestling and music, most accomplished collegiate athletes would find it hard to find the time to do much else.
Not this guy.
Cox volunteers to help with children in the community and from it, has developed a number of unique relationships.
“I don't want to be valued as a wrestler,” Cox said. “I want to be valued as a person. I enjoy people that care about my wrestling and all that, but if that’s all that people see in me, then I think that’s lacking on my part. That means I’m not doing something right.”
Most notably, he has become good friends with Brayden Deaver, a 7-year-old boy that is deaf who he met last year.
Brayden, who also wants to become a wrestler, tends to go to the majority of Cox’s wrestling meets with his parents, always cheering his pal on loudly.
Although many may see the duo’s relationship as one-sided, Cox insists it’s special.
“I know people say that he worships me or whatever, but no, it’s a real friendship,” he said. “It’s not a ‘One person’s up here and the other’s down here and they just hang out.’ No, we’re at the same level. It’s not like any other relationship I really have. It’s really cool just to hang out with him and have somebody that looks up to you and you admire him, too. I hope to continue to be his friend for a long time.”
Cox, who said he wants to “slow down and relax” after graduation, also has big goals to become a motivational speaker. He’s been practicing this plenty, most recently traveling to St. Louis to inspire a collegiate rugby team.
With two years of eligibility remaining, the jack-of-all-trades is looking nowhere but up.
Despite an undefeated regular season and accolades galore, the Tigers have yet to secure a team national championship. Cox, who will become the undisputed leader of the pack next season, will seek to accomplish just that.
“My goals haven’t changed (after not being able to win four straight),” he said. “One dream may not be able to come true, but still, another is born. I’m just going to wake up and go after the one that’s in front of me.”