Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

leekempaudioLeroy (Lee) P. Kemp, Jr. (born Darnell Freeman on December 24, 1956 in Cleveland, Ohio) was arguably one of the most successful American amateur wrestlers ever in United States history, achieving unparalleled successs at the high school, collegiate and international levels.

Lee Kemp started wrestling in only the 9th grade at Chardon High School, in Chardon, Ohio and by the end of his high school career had compiled two undefeated seasons while winning two Ohio State titles in his last two seasons. His first state title included wins over the defending state champion and the previous years’ state runnerup. Shortly after graduating from high school Lee was one of only four American Junior wrestlers that recorded a dual meet win against a tough Junior Soviet team on their Ohio stop of an eight city United States tour which resulted in 80 total matches being contested. Lee also won the prestigious Junior National Freestyle Tournament in July of that same year defeating a future 3-time NCAA Champion in the finals.

While competing for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Lee Kemp was a four-time NCAA Division I National finalist, winning the championship three times and placing 2nd, on a split referee’s decision, as a true freshman at 18 years old. Lee recorded losses to only three wreslers in his collegiate career losing his last college match in the NCAA finals as a freshman, posting 110 wins and no losses against collegiate competition in has last three years, which included the historic win over the legendary Dan Gable in November of Lee’s sophomore year, while he was still 18 years old. March 10, 2010 Inside Wisconsin Sports Article,”The Day Lee Kemp Beat the Great Dan Gable”, by Mike Beacom.

Lee Kemp was America’s first three-time World Champion, winning his first title in 1978 at age 21, establishing him as the youngest American world champion ever, a distintion he held for 30 years. Lee was a four-time World Cup Champion, 7-time United States Freestyle National Champion and was a heavy favorite for gold earning a berth on the 1980 United States Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Team, but was unable to compete because of the U.S. boycott of the Olympics.

Kemp was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 1990. Then at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where he was one of the freestyle coaches for the U.S., he became just the fifth American to be inducted into the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Lee Kemp is currently the subject of a film documentary on his life scheduled for completion in July 2013, and is the co-founder and President of FORZA Technologies, a nutritional supplement company. FORZA is the official corporate sponsor of USA Wrestling and its national teams.

Share