Before the MMA world had heard of Kevin Randleman and his superhero like athletic prowness, he was a dominating college wrestler dominating the NCAA scene. I was wrestling in the same era as Randleman a few years behind him and could not believe his dominance on the mat. Throw in the fact that his physique was by far the most impressive in all of NCAA sports at that time and maybe ever.
I read about him as a high school senior and freshman in college in all the wrestling publications looking over his results until 1994 when I qualified for the NCAA tourney myself. It was that weekend I met him personally.
I was in the warm up area and he was in the 177lbs class and I was right below him at 167lbs. I was able to approach him to tell him what an idol he was of mine and how good it was to meet him. He responded by saying, “Thank you very much but your here now my man. Your in the game now. Your here now. Do your thing.”
That response resignated with me and I never forgot what he said. He basically told me to stop being a “deer in headlights” and get focused and it is spot on with everyone else’s experiences when meeting him.
Later on in the weekend I watched him win his second NCAA title from the stands as a spectator and he was as impressive as ever. My coach at the time(Jeff Ellis) said laughing that, “not all men are created equal… Whoever said that never met this guy”.
He finished as Ohio State’s most successful wrestler at that time finishing with 108 wins. He was unable to finish his career and did not participate in his senior season due to academic issues. He still had 4 of the 10 quickest falls in NCAA history including an 8 second fall and three big ten titles as well.
I did not follow him closely or MMA during the early days because I was doing other things and MMA was not legal in Pennsylvania so I really had no plans in competing. After reading about his MMA career and his accomplishments, it does not surprise me that he a won UFC gold and went head to head with all the top notch athletes such as Bas Rutton , Randy Couture and Pedro Rizzo. That was the class he belonged in.
RIP Kevin Randleman